Posts filed under ‘Hope Street’

Cookin' With First Congregational

When last I peeked in on Bunker Hill’s First Congregational Church, its membership was planning a halfway house for reformed prostitutes and marching to protest Los Angeles’s crib district, a hub of semi-legal prostitution in the late 1800s and early 1900s.


Now, it’s 1907, and things have been busy for First Congregational. For starters, they moved from the Hill in the early 1900s to 841 S. Hope Street.

But more exciting, the church’s Women’s Work Society has compiled a cookbook, Our Favorite Recipes, a remarkable collection of regional period recipes. Even more exciting, it’s been digitized at, along with a number of other Los Angeles cookbooks from the early 20th century.

Perhaps we’ll celebrate this collection with a helping of Harriet Burd’s Congregational Pudding:


1 cup molasses

1 cup chopped suet

1 cup cold water

3 cups graham flour

1 teaspoon soda

Flavor with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla. Steam three hours in a three-pound lard bucket covered.

Or, on second thought, maybe we won’t.

February 3, 2009 at 10:33 pm 1 comment

Christmas 1962



December 24, 2008 at 2:40 pm Leave a comment

"Otto Liebman Is Alive and Well Instead of Being Burned to Death"

George Roughton’s boarding house at 324 Clay Street was advertised as possessing a "most healthful locality" and "very fine view."  However, it’s unlikely that it appeared that way to tenants who were awakened at dawn on July 2, 1894 to find the place engulfed in flames.

The fire was caused by an oil stove explosion in the basement rooms of "a colored family named Phoenix," and destroyed the entire building within minutes.  Roughton was only partially insured for the loss, which was estimated at between $3000-$4000 ($76,000-$102,000 2008 USD), and most tenants lost all of their possessions.

After making their escape, the residents of 324 Clay did a head count, and discovered one among their number to be missing.  Otto Liebman was recalled by his neighbors as elderly and a semi-invalid who had lived on the third floor for only a few months.

When Liebman failed to turn up, and his remains could not be found in the ashes, a concerned neighbor reported his disappearance… two weeks after the fire.  Within a day or so, however, the mystery was solved.

In perhaps the greatest understatement ever to find its way into print, the Times reported, "Otto Liebman is alive and well instead of being burned to death."  It turns out that on the morning of the fire, Liebman woke up choking from smoke inhalation, and crawled down the stairs to safety.  As soon as he reached the street, he passed out until he was discovered by a friend, who carried him home.  Liebman remained in bed for a week, recovering from the shock.  After his recovery, the friend did him a solid and found the penniless and now homeless man work in a fruit and tobacco shop.

But as for the good neighbors at 324 Clay, not only did they fail to report his disappearance for two weeks, they also gave police an entirely inaccurate description, Liebman being neither elderly nor gray-headed as they’d reported.

September 2, 2008 at 9:46 pm Leave a comment

More of the Rossmere

TheRossmereWhen last week you read about the Second Battle of Bunker Hill, did you really think that that was all that’d happened at the noble Rossmere? The Corinthian columns! Those dentils! Don’t they just scream Dope Addict Goes Berserk?

hottrannymessDecember 28, 1918. Juvenille officers were called to a vacant lot at First and Hope where young toughs were blasting away at tin cans with their air rifles. The two collared ringleaders were on their way to the station house when one of the youngsters tucked a lock of long hair under his cap…he being Miss Juanita Stuart, fourteen, of the Rossmere. She protested tearfully when her mother was instructed by officers to burn the costume of khaki trousers, flannel shirt and boy’s sweater, and to keep the young lady attired in feminine apparel only thereafter.

July 1, 1927. William Barrett, Rossmerian, had been arrested at the hotel by officers on Volstead violations and entered into evidence was one large bottle of gin. At Barrett’s trial the prosecuting attorney sought to clinch a conviction by producing said bottle, but, like a reversed wedding at Cana, a police property room at LAPD will turn gin into water.


Barrett went back to the Rossmere a free man, thankful to the police for working a miracle.

deriguerSeptember 23, 1949. Lloyd E. Bitters, 82, a former shoplifter by trade, decided on September 5 of this year to stop eating. The fourteen-year resident of the Rossmere simply found life “no longer worth living,” which is reasonable enough (moreover recently-assassinated Gandhi had made fasting fashionable). But Bitters was descended upon by members of the Community Chest and the Salvation Army’s Golden Agers Club, who bundled him up and trundled him off to General Hosptial for psychiatric examination.

theFallSeptember 5, 1951. Whereas the Vanderbilt had a habit of killing children, the Rossmere saved them. Elena Bravo had warned her little Martha, seven, against playing on the third floor fire escape, but Martha didn’t listen and tumbled off, only to be caught by Mrs. Max Casados’ ground-floor clothesline. The child suffered a compound arm fracture, a less lamentable situation than another hotel would have afforded.

atleastitwasntbooszeSeptember 7, 1955. Fred H. Morales, 28, delivered a benediction of blood to six of his sleeping children. And after his sprinkler-like artery-opening anointing act, he beat down a door and chased his wife—she carrying their nine-month-old baby—and her parents into the street outside the Rossmere with a butcher knife. When the cops finally arrived at First and Hope they found Morales inside, having slashed his throat with a razor blade. He was taken to the prison ward at General Hospital.

June 22, 2008 at 5:56 pm 3 comments

A Tough Kid

Location: 336 South Flower Street
Date: January 28, 1932

Raymond Seccord, a 15-year-old Vancouver runaway, flipped out in City Hall’s juvenile court today after being busted in front of the above address. Refusing to answer any questions, he upended tables, lobbed an inkwell out the window and bit and scratched four detectives as they tried to tackle him. Seccord sneered "I’m plenty tough. I’ll probably hang for killing a copper." Suitably impressed, Judge Blake sent him to County Jail instead of Juvenile Hall, and we will hear no more of this plucky fellow.

May 24, 2008 at 4:04 pm Leave a comment

All That Glitters

Location: 360 South Hill Street
Date: June 29, 1931

Mrs. W.H. Gadd of this address (presumably a relation of manager S.J.) was driving near 12th Street and Burlington Avenue when a couple of boyish creeps hopped onto her running board, shoved guns in the window and demanded the two fabulous rings on her left hand. She obliged, and later told police the crooks had stolen paste, and gosh, isn’t it amazing how good a $2 ring looks these days?

April 1, 2008 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment


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