69 Fremont Place


After a decade's lag, the 1920s saw Fremont Place come into its own as the population of Los Angeles began to more than double during the decade and the affluent sought newer residential horizons beyond aging districts such as West Adams. Few houses—perhaps only one—were started in the subdivision during the Depression; after economic conditions eased, those few lots left unimproved since the Place opened in 1911 began to be built upon. Number 65, on the northerly portion of Lot 69, went up in 1930; its neighbor on the southerly Ninth Street corner arrived 10 years later. Linen-supply-company executive Edward C. Warner commissioned 69 Fremont Place from Clarence J. Smale, an architect known for his movie theaters—including the dazzling Loyola on Sepulveda Boulevard—but one also responsible for the Venetianesque house at #62, built across the street from Warners' lot in 1922. Moving from the southeast corner of Olympic and Burnside, Warner and his wife were in their new residence by the fall; in what appears to be her first of many such sedate gatherings in the house, Lillian Warner, whose career of volunteerism, typical of upper-middle-class matrons of the era, involved endless committee gatherings over watercress sandwiches, threw a luncheon for her sewing group on Halloween, just weeks after final tile work was completed in the house.

The Warners stayed at #69 for a dozen years; in February and March 1952 Lillian was issued building permits for a smaller house the couple had commissioned from Smale for a lot at 404 Lorraine Boulevard in Windsor Square. Following the Warners into #69 that year was advertising man Barton A. Stebbins—he was also at one point the president of the Palmer Institute of Authorship, which produced home-study material for aspiring media writers—and his wife Dewey. On January 3, 1962, the first Mrs. Stebbins died in the house after a long illness. On November 14, Barton married the former Mrs. Dana Hogan in Yuma; the newlyweds moved into #69. Though not while living in Fremont Place, Barton Stebbins died in 1999; curiously, both Dewey and Ida Hollister Hogan Stebbins, who had died in 1983, are buried next to him at Forest Lawn.

Later occupants of 69 Fremont Place included philanthropist Duke Comegys, the tireless activist and fund-raiser for gay, lesbian, and AIDS causes. He sold it to actress Angela Bassett in 1994; after she married actor Courtney B. Vance in 1997, the couple remained in the house until 2008.

Illustration: Private Collection