133 Fremont Place


Native upstate Michiganders Martin and Hazel Houseman arrived in Los Angeles from Detroit in 1919 with their daughter Caroline, one of his brothers, Reuben, and her widowed mother, Carrie Wolcott. It appears that the couple had recently lost a child; having done well back east and poised to do as well or better once out west, Martin had the means for an impressive fresh start. He entered several business ventures, including the distribution of the automobile batteries that, more than any other city, Los Angeles could not do without. The Houseman clan bought a house, for cash, on South Kenmore Avenue, an area then just giving way in terms of fashion to more westerly developments such as Windsor Square and Fremont Place. Having observed the potential of local real estate, Martin began to invest in the land that the exploding population of his new city coveted as much as motive power. While more than most cities Los Angeles was famous for being open to attractive newcomers, the Martin Housemans appear to have had particularly speedy entrée into the upper reaches of local society; certainly the well-located but not ostentatious houses they built for themselves at 433 South Lucerne Boulevard in Windsor Square in 1920 and, then, four years later, at 133 Fremont Place signaled that they meant business in more than just car batteries.

On June 25, 1924, the Department of Buildings issued permits to Martin for a nine-room residence and garage on—as the the original "estate-size" parcels of Fremont Place were speedily cut up after 1920—the "southerly 75 feet of the northerly 115 feet of Lot 131." Apparently an error, given that two lots north there already was a #129, the permits list that same address for the Houseman project. With the address sorted and Carrie, a Christian Science practitioner, now in her own apartment and Reuben married and in his own house, Martin, Hazel, and Caroline were in #133 by New Years 1925. The family would stay there for two decades.

The full story of 133 Fremont Place will appear in due course.

Illustration: Private Collection