686 South Carondelet Street


  • Built in 1902 on Lots 10 and 11 in Block 1 of the Wilshire Boulevard Tract by St. Louis wholesale coal merchant Edward R. Feuerborn, who had recently retired to Los Angeles after frequent visits in recent years. Once taking up permanent residence in California, Feuerborn and his family lived for a time in a house owned by their St. Louis connection William Bosbyshell in today's Pico-Union district, then renting 2711 Wilshire Boulevard while awaiting the completion of 686 South Carondelet Street
  • Architect: Hunt & Eager (Sumner P. Hunt and Wesley Eager)

On January 26, 1902, the Los Angeles Times ran an illustration accompanied by an item describing
the house "that is to be erected for E. R. Feurborn on lots located on the northeast corner of
 Carondelet and Seventh streets. It will be a ten-room two story frame building with
basement and attic. The foundation will be of granite. The exterior finish of the
first story will be in sawed clap-boards; that of the second story will be
shingles. On the first floor will be found a spacious hallway, parlor,
sitting-room, dining-room, kitchen and servants' bath-room.
The second story will contain four bed chambers and
a bath-room.The house will be heated from a
furnace in the basement. It will be [lit]
by both gas and electricity.... The
house will cost between
$5000 and $7000."

  • Edward Feuerborn left 686 in 1908 to live at the Hotel Ingraham; occupying the house during that year was Frederick W. Marshall, president of a firm that specialized in "patented fixtures for apartment houses"—i.e., Murphy beds, among other furniture
  • Building contractor Charles Murray, a native Nova Scotian who probably recognized a well-built house when he saw one, bought 686 South Carondelet, apparently from Feuerborn, and was in residence with his wife Margaret, two daughters, and two sons by early 1909. With new subdivisions such as Windsor Square opening farther out along the Wilshire corridor soon after, the Westlake neighborhood (as well as older parts of West Adams) would before long lose favor among the affluent interested in single-family houses; the extended Murray clan would nevertheless remain at the northeast corner of Carondelet and Seventh streets for the next 35 years
  • The Murrays' elder daughter, Mabel, married banker George A. J. Howard at the Cathedral of St. Vibiana on August 17, 1910, a few weeks before her 25th birthday. While the newlyweds lived at first on Hobart Boulevard, they soon moved in with her parents at 686 South Carondelet and would remain there until moving to Ocean Park by 1920. Frank, the Murrays' 21-year-old elder son, married Rose Cunningham two months before the Howards' wedding; a few years after a daughter was born in 1920, the Frank Murrays divorced. He moved back in with his parents at 686 and would remain single and in the house into the 1940s
  • The younger Murray daughter, Helen, had just turned 25 when she married banker Anthony Frederick Swensen in November 1925; Fred Swensen, whose father Anton was the contractor for the Homer Laughlin Building on Broadway and is credited with building the Third Street Tunnel under Bunker Hill that enabled improved access to western districts of the city, was vice-president of The Pacific National Bank, of which he was a founder in 1923 and where Helen's younger brother Edward was also an officer. The Swensens started out in a house on Van Ness Avenue just north of Wilshire—the lure of westerly suburbs was now very strong—but by the time the 1930 Federal census was enumerated on April 8, they were counted as living back down on Carondelet Street with their son Murray, her parents, and her brother Frank

As seen from West Seventh Street circa 1905: The Feuerborn house

and its garage were part of the Gaylord Wilshire's 1895 tract, the platting
of which included the first blocks of his famous eponymous boulevard. Even the
most luxurious Los Angeles subdivisions of single-family houses were relatively short-
lived as developers chased the money with ever more upscale offerings spread over a city
bent on devouring all lands toward the Pacific. The Feurborns and, for a time, the Murrays,
had as close neighbors the lordly Hancocks, who built 683 South Carondelet across the street
in 1901, as seen above at far left. (It was moved to Magnolia and Tenth avenues in 1925.)
The Murrays would later build a filling station on their property—it would appear by
early 1932 in the same view—and not long after a larger commercial structure
where the driveway appears above. Sanborn maps from 1906 and 1950
below and the 1968 aerial view at bottom illustrate the evolution.

  • It seems that the onset of the Depression was having an effect on all of the Murrays with the possible exceptions of Edward and Mabel, who by this time were living to the west. Mabel and George Howard had just bought 601 South Windsor Boulevard in Windsor Square; Edward and his wife had been living nearby in house they'd built at 141 North Arden Boulevard (née Vine Street) in 1920. It would be Edward who would reorganize the property on Carondelet Street, taking advantage of its spacious yard along busy Seventh Street to build a filling station
  • On November 18, 1931, he Department of Building and Safety issued a building permit to Murray & Mathe, a business entity of Edward's listed at 141 North Arden, for the construction of a service station with a canopy on the southwest corner of the Carondelet property, addressed 2477 West Seventh, that would become a Signal Oil dealer. On February 25, 1932, Charles Murray was issued a permit to build a garage building at the southeast corner that was attached to the Signal operation; this would become 2451 West Seventh. The neighborhood had already become déclassé in terms of single-family residences, but it seems that the senior Murrays and the Swensens had no problem with unsightly, noisy, and odiferous trade invading their garden. It was either a deep attachment to a house or it made economic sense to them at the time, or both
  • In 1931, the Swensens were involved in a lawsuit brought by parties injured after an abandoned Julian oil well exploded on property they owned in the Athens district of South Los Angeles. The defense pleaded an Act of God; the outcome is unclear. To add to their woes, in 1933 there was a foreclosure on property at the prime northwest corner of Olive and West Eighth streets downtown that Helen's family had owned for decades. (Margaret Murray appears to have hired architect Albert C. Martin to design a brick hotel building for the parcel in 1912, which was across Olive from what was then the headquarters of the Automobile Club of Southern California; her plan to have architect A. Godfrey Bailey—another top-flight local designer—replace this with a market structure in 1923 apparently did not come to pass)
  • The Swensens had two more children while they were living on Carondelet Street. Milo was born in 1933; he would become a geographer and work for the family's real estate interests with his uncle George Howard. The happiness that came with birth of a daughter, Nancy Patricia, in March 1935 turned to sadness for the Murray-Swensen household when she died at less than 10 months. Then, on August 7, 1938, Charles Murray died in Los Angeles at the age of 79. His sizable obituary in the Times three days later was headlined "Frontiersman's Funeral Today" and described the wild-west adventures he'd had crossing to California as a young man in pursuit of his fortune
  • Despite the death of her husband and the din of cars pulling into the filling station next door during the '30s—ding ding—not to mention streetcars of the Los Angeles Railway grinding along Seventh Street—Margaret Murray and her family would stay put at 686 South Carondelet for at least the next five years. Despite their considerable means, the toll the Depression might have taken notwithstanding, a structured upper-middle-class existence appears to have meant little to them in terms of their place of residence or in terms of participation in local society or club life
  • After 35 years in Westlake, change finally came to the Murray-Swensen household as they began to leave 686 South Carondelet. Margaret Murray, as well as Frank and Helen Swensen, were still listed on 1944 voter rolls at that address, with Mrs. Murray appearing to have that year or certainly by the next moved to her daughter Mabel's house in Windsor Square. Frank Murray and Helen Swensen are, curiously, still on 1946 voter rolls as living at 686, with Fred Swensen listed at his late mother's house at 4700 South Figueroa Street. Margaret Murray died in Los Angeles on July 12, 1946, at the age of 84. By 1952, the Swensens had bought the Charles O. Nourse house in yet another fading neighborhood—West Adams's gated and once-grand Berkeley Square, all 23 big residences of which would be wiped off the map in little more than a decade
  • With the Murrays themselves having redeveloped their Carondelet Street property years before, it could be that the family retained the parcel for a time after moving elsewhere. Some apartments appear to have been carved out of the house, while larger downstairs rooms would now be converted to commercial use by a party named Mae Ruben, who was issued a permit by the Department of Building and Safety on December 7, 1945, to add restaurant equipment
  • Artists-supplies dealer Gustave Gilbert was living at 686 South Carondelet by 1948; with his operation having earlier occupied the old residence at 3033 Wilshire Boulevard, he was now enlarging 2451 West Seventh to convert it to his business needs
  • Exactly what in terms of restaurants might have occupied the house at 686 before 1956 is unclear, but by that year Swiss-born George Boccard was living there. He would operate the intimate Boccard's French Restaurant in the building until he retired in 1965. That year, Croatian sisters Helen Dragan and Eva Knezevich opened the Chez Helene Continental Restaurant at 686. Afterward moving to Santa Monica Boulevard hard by the Hollywood Freeway, the popular and informal operation remained on Carondelet until the wrecking ball finally came down on the house in 1976
  • With a three-story-over-garage apartment complex known as the Parkview Terrace slated for the entire blockfront of West Seventh Street between Park View Street and Carondelet, the Department of Building and Safety issued a demolition permit for 686 South Carondelet, as well as for 2451 West Seventh, on April 16, 1976. The filling station on the corner of the old Feuerborn-Murray property had been cleared in late 1974

The Feuerborn-Murray house, see above at center, was the last structure built as a single-family house
still standing in its immediate neighborhood. Six years after this image was made in 1968, all
 lots were cleared for the apartment house that faces West Seventh Street today.

Illustrations: Private Collection; LAT; USCDLThe Inland Architect and News Record; Sanborn Maps/LOC