131 Fremont Place


Los Angeles variations of English styles—faux half-timbering, asymmetrical roofs swooping down huge gables, some in brick, some in wooden Craftsman super-bungalow guise—became the rage in the mid aughts as the city moved, somewhat belatedly, away from the Victorian age. Mission and Mediterranean designs also began to hold sway in local residential architecture, both they and the Albionic providing a sense of history for newcomers to an altogether new land; only the Greene Brothers were radicals. These European and Colonial styles came back in force in the '20s, with the decade this time belonging to the Mediterranean. Still, there were modern variations of the English, several of which appeared in Fremont Place, including #131.

A bearded and arguably much more attractive façade—before the lawn of 131 became a parking
lot about as welcoming as one at Ralphs—as captured, along with the house's living room
seen below, by renowned architectural photographer Julius Shulman in 1981.

The four Tyler brothers and their father Marcus had been active in residential building and real estate in Los Angeles since well before the turn of the century, some concentrating on construction, others on design. Having acquired a parcel of 75 frontage feet comprised of parts of Lots 125 and 131 for Tyler & Company—in which he was then partnered with two of his brothers, Arthur and Bernard—Walter E. Tyler then gave the signal to esteemed architect sibling Frank M. Tyler to come up with an eight-room house and a garage for the speculative venture. Permits to begin construction were issue by the Department of Buildings in Walter's name on August 16, 1923, specifying himself as contractor, Frank as architect, and a budget of $10,000.

It is unclear as to whom the Tylers may have sold or rented #131 before patent lawyer Leonard S. Lyon paid $42,500 for it in July 1927. His family would stay, if not quite intact, into the war years. Leonard and Agnes Lyon had four sons ranging in age from eight to less than a year when they moved in. Mr. and Mrs. Lyon made several alterations to the house, and then, long about 1937, one to their marriage. Leonard, apparently soon to remarry, left Agnes with the Fremont Place house, where she stayed, along with Leonard Junior, for six or so more years.

The full story of 131 Fremont Place will be told in due course.

Illustration: Private Collection; Getty Digital Collections