Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

419 South Lorraine Revisted

419 South Lorraine Boulevard, “Sunshine Hall” was the first home built on the development known as Old Windsor Square, now Windsor Square. (photo from Alex Elliott)

Several weeks ago, we wrote about 419 South Lorraine Blvd but we had some questions about the histories we found. Now our questions have been answered and more, thanks to the staff at the Planning Department who shared with is the Historic Cultural Monument application that was filed on the property when it was declared Historic Cultural Monument #115 on March 21, 1973.

These are the official historic descriptions of the Evans Residence, also known as “Sunshine Hall.” They do not disappoint,  offering a detailed description of the property complete with correspondence about the filing and the approval decision as well as fascinating information about the early owners.  The documents are public records available on request, but to make it easier, we’re sharing them with Buzz readers who we know deeply appreciate learning more about our local architectural heritage.

From the City’s HCM File:

Declared Historic-Cultural Monument No. 115 on March 21, 1973

“Sunshine Hall” was originally designed for Mrs. Jeanette Donvan by architect I. Eisner about 1910. The building is a rare example, for Southern California of the classical revival initiated in the east at the turn-of-the-century by firms as McKim, Mead and White. The exterior is dominated by a Roman temple portico with Ionic columns. The interior continues with heavy classical revival detail in panelling and cornices with the exception of two fireplaces, said to have come from the home of Civil War General J.E.B. Stuart’s mother in Virginia which are Federal or Adamesque in style.

The house, like other nearby houses, suggests the grandeur with which some settler of Los Angeles surrounded themselves at the turn-of-the-century.

So that establishes I. (Theodore) Eisner, as the architect, not Parker O. Wright as we reported earlier based on the image from Windsor Square Blogpost and the LA Times article from January 14, 1912. Possibly there was some connection to Wright and Eisner but design credit for the home goes to Eisner based on the HCM filings. Frank Meline was listed at the contractor.

Aside from the facts, we found a lovely essay that offers a personal perspective on the rich history of the home. The year and the author’s name are missing though it seems likely to have been written by a previous owner as it refers to the weather on the day they moved in and the reference Lorraine Rowan marriage to Senator John Sherman Cooper would indicate the frame is the late 1950s so we are guessing Mr. or Mrs Evans was the author!  Regardless, we thank the writer and the City staff for recording it as part of this history of this amazing house.

Here’s a taste of the story below,  click here for more. Enjoy!

From “Sunshine Hall”
The Evans Mansion
419 South Lorraine Boulevard:

“Sunshine Hall’ was the first house built in old Windsor Square, the R. A. Rowan tract about a mile west of Western Avenue, between Wilshire Boulevard and Third Street. Others may claim this distinction, but court records and the facts authenticate it. It is one of only four houses in the block on the west side of the street between Fourth Street and Fifth Street. At the other end of the block is the Norman Chandler home, built by Peter Janss, father of the Janss developers. Across Fourth Street is the old Van Nuys house, which was moved from a hill where it was built on Sixth Street and Loma Drive.

“Sunshine Hall’ is on Lorraine Boulevard, so named for Miss Lorraine Rowan, daughter of the developer. Miss Rowan married Prince Orsini and for years lived in a magnificent Georgian mansion in Georgetown, D. C. She is at present married to Senator Cooper of Kentucky.

The most distinctive feature of the grounds is the gigantic elm tree known far and wide by humans and birds, for whom it seems to be a landmark during their migrations. One trunk or large branch was bent to grow at right angles to the main trunk and points due south. Legend says this was an Indian trail marker. Other large trees are a pair of Cedar Deodars, very high, and a spreading Sycamore. A very tall and perfectly-shaped Italian cypress is one of an original pair. Sunshine lights the lawn in the winter and the shade of the large trees keeps it and the house cool in the summer. A semi-circle drive of flat stones leads to the house.”

According to the author, the families who lived at this gracious home entertained extensively.

“Tennis, especially on Sundays, has never stopped during the entire period of the Evans’ residence. There have been tennis breakfasts, brunches, luncheons, and suppers for tennis-playing friends from Pasadena to Santa Monica. The Marlborough School tennis team uses the court every year during a tournament, and a number of groups of friends come at regular days in the week.”

“Young Jack Donovan was interested in the films, and many parties were given that included his Hollywood friends and the society friends of his sister, Miss Catherine. Mrs. Donovan’s staff wore maroon livery, the men with knee-breeches, white stockings and silver shoe buckles. She maintained a small eucalyptus grove which provided wood for her fireplaces every evening of the year.

“The Huntingtons (said to be distantly connected to the Henry Huntingtons) filled the walls of the house with handsome 18th century portraits of their New England ancestors. Rev. Huntington was interested in making religious films. Miss Harriet Huntington was a writer, artist and classic dancer. Miss Grace Huntington was a pioneer flyer. Mr. Charles Huntington, now a businessman, when a baby, was threatened by a kidnapping plot that involved the German cook and the Japanese chauffeur. At this time a very strong system of burglar alarms was installed throughout the house and grounds.

“The Evans family acquired “Sunshine Hall’ at the time of the great depression. Gone were the days of liveried servants and large staffs, Rolls Royce town cars and two chauffeurs. However, with a reduced staff and efficient caterers, the entertaining went on. There were Hawaiian luaus around the patio pool (now filled in) and the usual tennis entertaining, perhaps accelerated.”

We hope this gives you a little more insight into this wonderful home and a greater appreciation for the value of our architectural preservation protections. Our thanks to the city’s office of Historic Resources and the Historic Cultural Monument staff who celebrated their 60th anniversary earlier this summer.


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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  1. So loved reading about 419 South Lorraine. Important to have the vocal and written histories
    of those who lived in these lovely houses and gives such insight into life at that time for the fortunate people who spent portions of their lives there.


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