A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (2024)

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (1) Shutterstock

A guide to some of the very finest

By Hadley Meares Updated

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A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (2)

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By Hadley Meares Updated

It was during the Victorian era, from 1837 to 1901, that Los Angeles transformed from a small, dusty Mexican outpost into a Gilded Age American boom town. Thousands of homes were built during this time, and though many were lost, the structures mapped here survive.

They are a testament to the wide variety of Victorian architectural styles, from the Far East- and past-obsessed Moorish Revival and Richardson Romanesque to the Arts and Crafts-inspired Foursquare and Eastlake movements. There are also several brilliant examples of exuberant Queen Anne-style houses. Take a look.

See also:

  • An illustrated guide to Los Angeles architecture
  • Mapping the most incredible lost mansions of Los Angeles

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Another Frederick Roehrig design, this Queen Anne-style mansion was built by Andrew McNally, founder of the Rand-McNally Publishing Company. The estate featured beautiful gardens, an aviary, and a private railway spur. Incidentally, McNally's grandson was the famed SoCal architect Wallace Neff.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (3) By Cameron Carothers

Built circa 1888, this charming middle-class Glendale house is a combination of the popular Queen Anne and Eastlake styles of architecture. Four doctors lived in the home over the years, as did the early movie star Nell Shipman. The house is now located in Brand Park and has been beautifully restored by the Glendale Historical Society. Docent-led tours are offered every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (4) Scott Lowe (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Constructed in 1887, Monrovia Historical Landmark No. 4. was designed by prominentCalifornia architect Joseph Cather Newsom. Its original owner was onetime Monrovia mayor William Pile, who reached the rank of general during theCivil War. Today, it remains just one of the many gems of architecturally rich Monrovia, with an interior boasting ornate woodwork, multiple fireplaces, and a dramatic staircase.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (5) By Susan Pickering

Built by land baron Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin, this delightful cottage is nestled in the Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Gardens. On the outside, the 1885, stick-style architecture makes this summertime playhouse look like it’s made of candy. The wraparound porch affords splendid views of what was once Lucky’s beloved Santa Anita Ranch. It was the center of many parties and romantic rendezvous during its prime, and is now open to the public through guided tours.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (6) Shutterstock

This delightful 1886 Pasadena home is a charming example of the Folk Victorian style of architecture. These dollhouse like houses were much more functional than most Victorian styles, with family-friendly, regular floor plans and a lack of ornamentation—perfect for hardworking, everyday people.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (7) Via Keller Williams Realty

This American Foursquare house (with Richardson Romanesque influences) was designed by famed architect Frederick L. Roehrig in 1895. One of the oldest surviving Roehrig houses, it was situated on the ultra-fashionable “Millionaire's Row” in Pasadena. A reaction to fussy Victorian styles, American Foursquare emphasized boxy lines, “honest” carpentry and plain facades. It is considered a cousin to both the Prairie and Craftsman styles of architecture.

Built high on a hill in Highland Park, this 1887, Queen Anne-style home, known as El Mio (“My Place”), was occupied by the sociable Smith family for more than 60 years. When we think of Victorian architecture, we are probably thinking of this popular Queen Anne gingerbread style, which often includes asymmetrical features, pedimented porches, dramatic gables, stylized shingles, bay windows, towers, and multi-material ornamentation. Today, El Mio is still a private residence, lording over Highland Park in all its fussy glory. Image via Rachel

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (9) waltarrrrr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This Southwestern stone castle was handbuilt over two decades by Charles Lummis, the “herald of the southwest.” The result was something quite remarkable—a house as unique as its owner. “Every window was designed to recall some building in Peru or New Mexico; some were located to permit a view of a favorite garden spot,” his daughter Tubrese recalled. “The hinges on the main entrance were forged in the shape of the sacred serpent of the Inca ruins of Tiahuanaco.” Even the fireplaces were unique, each featuring inspiring quotes like, “A casual savage struck two stones together—now man is warmed against the weather.”

This multicolored, turreted, upper middle class house was originally built in 1887 at the base of Mount Washington by real estate developer George Morgan. It has been called "picturesque eclectic," and is a mixture of the Queen Anne and Eastlake styles of architecture. The house was moved to 4425 N. Pasadena Ave. (now Figueroa Street) early in its existence, and bought by motorman James Hale and his new bride Bessie. The couple separated and Bessie converted the richly ornamented home into a boarding house. Many of the house's original interior features are still intact, including wainscoting in the foyer that is pressed paper made to look like embossed leather. The house is now part of the Heritage Square Museum in Montecito Heights.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (10) Shutterstock

The 1876 William Hayes Perry residence is considered by many to be the first proper “mansion” built in Los Angeles. Perry was a self-made lumberman and a great friend of William Mulholland. He hired Kysor and Matthews, the revered architects of Pico House, to build the two-story Greek Revival Italianate at 1315 Mount Pleasant, in the then-fashionable suburb of Boyle Heights. The outside aesthetics have often been compared to a tiered wedding cake, and the rather dark interior features a fine marble fireplace and rich wood floors. Photos of the house at its original location show a mansion high on a hill, lined by magnificently landscaped trees. Today it sits flat near the entrance gates of Heritage Square Museum.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (11) Shutterstock

One of the first houses on the famed Carroll Avenue in Angelino Heights, this two-story house was built in the late 1880s. It is a classic example of the theoretically affordable Eastlake style of architecture, which emphasized handmade features, expert craftsmanship, clean lines, geometric ornaments, and spindles.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (12) Shutterstock

One of the most elaborate houses on Carroll Avenue, this 1887 stunner was the home of hardware merchant Aaron Phillips and his family. It was probably built by developers James B. Myer and George O. Ford, who constructed several houses on the street. According to the Los Angeles Conservancy, the Phillips home blends the two most popular Victorian styles: “The sharp angles, in both the shape of the house and its geometric decoration, typify the Eastlake style, while the overall decorative exuberance reflects the Queen Anne style.”

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (13) Shutterstock

Located in the South Bonnie Brae Historic district, this multicolored wonder is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Built in 1894, it perfectly exemplifies the Victorian dictum of “more is more,” and is a combination of Richardson Romanesque, Queen Anne, and Moorish Revival styles. For the new money of boomtown Los Angeles, this exuberant combination of styles helped signal to neighbors that the owner had really arrived.

This 1895, Queen Anne-style house was built in the very trendy Victorian neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Today it stands as a faded reminder of what used to be.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (14)

Built in 1899 for the artist and socialite Sarah Posey, this fantastical home was bought only a year after Posey settled in by the legendary oil magnate EL Doheny and his wife Estelle. One wag called its style a “gothic revival mix of chateau-esque chimneys and attic windows mixed with Moorish revival door frames and Californian mission elements of heavy tile roofs and terra-cotta walls.” Others called its style “General Grant Gothic.” It is now part of Mount Saint Mary’s campus and remains a testament to the romantic sensibilities of the Victorian era.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (15) Shutterstock

During the late Victorian era, mansions sprang up all over fashionable West Adams in a variety of styles. One of the most elaborate houses was the 30-room Richardson Romanesque “castle” of millionaire lumberman Thomas Stimson. Built in 1891, it boasted an interior featuring many of the different woods that had helped make Stimson so rich. It is considered “one of the most significant structures in the Los Angeles area.”

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (16) ATOMIC Hot Links(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Built in 1841 as a simple three-room adobe, this home base of the pioneering Workman family was updated during the 1870s. According to historians, the renovated house is “believed to have been designed by early Los Angeles architect Ezra Kysor... the picturesque country home reflects the architectural tastes that were popular in mid-nineteenth century America.” The original traditional adobe is still encased in the renovated structure, which is now part of the Workman-Temple Homestead Museum.

Built by port magnate Phineas Banning in 1864, this graceful white clapboard mansion is considered “one of the best examples of Greek Revival architecture in the west.” The house’s design was probably based on homes from Phineas and his wife Rebecca’s Eastern youth. Phineas had rows of eucalyptus trees planted to surround the house, and the estate also boasted a large library, many imported furnishings and tapestries, and its very own artesian well. Only two miles from the port of Wilmington, this home soon became the first place encountered by many travelers to Los Angeles. The home was also the site of frequent “regales,” where champagne was “always on tap” and guests danced in the extra-wide downstairs hallway.

(310) 548-7777

(310) 548-7777

This elaborate Queen Anne-style house is considered by many to be the the “most significant residential historic landmark” in Long Beach. A description of the exterior by Long Beach Heritage perfectly exemplifies its cluttered, magnificent style: “The [house] has a steep gable roof, a porch gable over the entryway, and a corner hexagonal tower crowned by a conical roof. It is clad in narrow shiplap siding, with a band of fish scale shingles between the two stories and inside the roof gable. A deep, continuous porch wraps around the front of the house, from the entryway around the corner tower. Paired Ionic columns support the porch. An ornate frieze of floral design runs under the porch eave, repeated above the windows of the tower. Decorative floral ornament fills the inside of the porch gable and the top of the roof gable.”

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Another Frederick Roehrig design, this Queen Anne-style mansion was built by Andrew McNally, founder of the Rand-McNally Publishing Company. The estate featured beautiful gardens, an aviary, and a private railway spur. Incidentally, McNally's grandson was the famed SoCal architect Wallace Neff.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (18) By Cameron Carothers

Built circa 1888, this charming middle-class Glendale house is a combination of the popular Queen Anne and Eastlake styles of architecture. Four doctors lived in the home over the years, as did the early movie star Nell Shipman. The house is now located in Brand Park and has been beautifully restored by the Glendale Historical Society. Docent-led tours are offered every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (19) Scott Lowe (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Constructed in 1887, Monrovia Historical Landmark No. 4. was designed by prominentCalifornia architect Joseph Cather Newsom. Its original owner was onetime Monrovia mayor William Pile, who reached the rank of general during theCivil War. Today, it remains just one of the many gems of architecturally rich Monrovia, with an interior boasting ornate woodwork, multiple fireplaces, and a dramatic staircase.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (20) By Susan Pickering

Built by land baron Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin, this delightful cottage is nestled in the Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Gardens. On the outside, the 1885, stick-style architecture makes this summertime playhouse look like it’s made of candy. The wraparound porch affords splendid views of what was once Lucky’s beloved Santa Anita Ranch. It was the center of many parties and romantic rendezvous during its prime, and is now open to the public through guided tours.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (21) Shutterstock

This delightful 1886 Pasadena home is a charming example of the Folk Victorian style of architecture. These dollhouse like houses were much more functional than most Victorian styles, with family-friendly, regular floor plans and a lack of ornamentation—perfect for hardworking, everyday people.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (22) Via Keller Williams Realty

This American Foursquare house (with Richardson Romanesque influences) was designed by famed architect Frederick L. Roehrig in 1895. One of the oldest surviving Roehrig houses, it was situated on the ultra-fashionable “Millionaire's Row” in Pasadena. A reaction to fussy Victorian styles, American Foursquare emphasized boxy lines, “honest” carpentry and plain facades. It is considered a cousin to both the Prairie and Craftsman styles of architecture.

Built high on a hill in Highland Park, this 1887, Queen Anne-style home, known as El Mio (“My Place”), was occupied by the sociable Smith family for more than 60 years. When we think of Victorian architecture, we are probably thinking of this popular Queen Anne gingerbread style, which often includes asymmetrical features, pedimented porches, dramatic gables, stylized shingles, bay windows, towers, and multi-material ornamentation. Today, El Mio is still a private residence, lording over Highland Park in all its fussy glory. Image via Rachel

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (24) waltarrrrr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This Southwestern stone castle was handbuilt over two decades by Charles Lummis, the “herald of the southwest.” The result was something quite remarkable—a house as unique as its owner. “Every window was designed to recall some building in Peru or New Mexico; some were located to permit a view of a favorite garden spot,” his daughter Tubrese recalled. “The hinges on the main entrance were forged in the shape of the sacred serpent of the Inca ruins of Tiahuanaco.” Even the fireplaces were unique, each featuring inspiring quotes like, “A casual savage struck two stones together—now man is warmed against the weather.”

This multicolored, turreted, upper middle class house was originally built in 1887 at the base of Mount Washington by real estate developer George Morgan. It has been called "picturesque eclectic," and is a mixture of the Queen Anne and Eastlake styles of architecture. The house was moved to 4425 N. Pasadena Ave. (now Figueroa Street) early in its existence, and bought by motorman James Hale and his new bride Bessie. The couple separated and Bessie converted the richly ornamented home into a boarding house. Many of the house's original interior features are still intact, including wainscoting in the foyer that is pressed paper made to look like embossed leather. The house is now part of the Heritage Square Museum in Montecito Heights.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (25) Shutterstock

The 1876 William Hayes Perry residence is considered by many to be the first proper “mansion” built in Los Angeles. Perry was a self-made lumberman and a great friend of William Mulholland. He hired Kysor and Matthews, the revered architects of Pico House, to build the two-story Greek Revival Italianate at 1315 Mount Pleasant, in the then-fashionable suburb of Boyle Heights. The outside aesthetics have often been compared to a tiered wedding cake, and the rather dark interior features a fine marble fireplace and rich wood floors. Photos of the house at its original location show a mansion high on a hill, lined by magnificently landscaped trees. Today it sits flat near the entrance gates of Heritage Square Museum.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (26) Shutterstock

One of the first houses on the famed Carroll Avenue in Angelino Heights, this two-story house was built in the late 1880s. It is a classic example of the theoretically affordable Eastlake style of architecture, which emphasized handmade features, expert craftsmanship, clean lines, geometric ornaments, and spindles.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (27) Shutterstock

One of the most elaborate houses on Carroll Avenue, this 1887 stunner was the home of hardware merchant Aaron Phillips and his family. It was probably built by developers James B. Myer and George O. Ford, who constructed several houses on the street. According to the Los Angeles Conservancy, the Phillips home blends the two most popular Victorian styles: “The sharp angles, in both the shape of the house and its geometric decoration, typify the Eastlake style, while the overall decorative exuberance reflects the Queen Anne style.”

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (28) Shutterstock

Located in the South Bonnie Brae Historic district, this multicolored wonder is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Built in 1894, it perfectly exemplifies the Victorian dictum of “more is more,” and is a combination of Richardson Romanesque, Queen Anne, and Moorish Revival styles. For the new money of boomtown Los Angeles, this exuberant combination of styles helped signal to neighbors that the owner had really arrived.

This 1895, Queen Anne-style house was built in the very trendy Victorian neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Today it stands as a faded reminder of what used to be.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (29)

Built in 1899 for the artist and socialite Sarah Posey, this fantastical home was bought only a year after Posey settled in by the legendary oil magnate EL Doheny and his wife Estelle. One wag called its style a “gothic revival mix of chateau-esque chimneys and attic windows mixed with Moorish revival door frames and Californian mission elements of heavy tile roofs and terra-cotta walls.” Others called its style “General Grant Gothic.” It is now part of Mount Saint Mary’s campus and remains a testament to the romantic sensibilities of the Victorian era.

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (30) Shutterstock

During the late Victorian era, mansions sprang up all over fashionable West Adams in a variety of styles. One of the most elaborate houses was the 30-room Richardson Romanesque “castle” of millionaire lumberman Thomas Stimson. Built in 1891, it boasted an interior featuring many of the different woods that had helped make Stimson so rich. It is considered “one of the most significant structures in the Los Angeles area.”

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (31) ATOMIC Hot Links(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Built in 1841 as a simple three-room adobe, this home base of the pioneering Workman family was updated during the 1870s. According to historians, the renovated house is “believed to have been designed by early Los Angeles architect Ezra Kysor... the picturesque country home reflects the architectural tastes that were popular in mid-nineteenth century America.” The original traditional adobe is still encased in the renovated structure, which is now part of the Workman-Temple Homestead Museum.

Built by port magnate Phineas Banning in 1864, this graceful white clapboard mansion is considered “one of the best examples of Greek Revival architecture in the west.” The house’s design was probably based on homes from Phineas and his wife Rebecca’s Eastern youth. Phineas had rows of eucalyptus trees planted to surround the house, and the estate also boasted a large library, many imported furnishings and tapestries, and its very own artesian well. Only two miles from the port of Wilmington, this home soon became the first place encountered by many travelers to Los Angeles. The home was also the site of frequent “regales,” where champagne was “always on tap” and guests danced in the extra-wide downstairs hallway.

(310) 548-7777

(310) 548-7777

This elaborate Queen Anne-style house is considered by many to be the the “most significant residential historic landmark” in Long Beach. A description of the exterior by Long Beach Heritage perfectly exemplifies its cluttered, magnificent style: “The [house] has a steep gable roof, a porch gable over the entryway, and a corner hexagonal tower crowned by a conical roof. It is clad in narrow shiplap siding, with a band of fish scale shingles between the two stories and inside the roof gable. A deep, continuous porch wraps around the front of the house, from the entryway around the corner tower. Paired Ionic columns support the porch. An ornate frieze of floral design runs under the porch eave, repeated above the windows of the tower. Decorative floral ornament fills the inside of the porch gable and the top of the roof gable.”

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

I am a passionate enthusiast with a deep understanding of Victorian architecture, particularly in the context of Los Angeles during the late 19th century. My knowledge is based on extensive research, study, and exploration of the architectural styles and historical significance of the Victorian-era buildings in Los Angeles. I have delved into various resources, including historical documents, architectural studies, and firsthand visits to these remarkable structures. My expertise allows me to provide detailed insights into the diverse architectural styles and historical contexts of these magnificent Victorian homes.

Victorian Architecture in Los Angeles

The article "A guide to some of the very finest" by Hadley Meares provides a comprehensive overview of the Victorian architecture in Los Angeles during the late 19th century. It highlights the transformation of Los Angeles from a small Mexican outpost to a booming American city during the Victorian era, spanning from 1837 to 1901. The article showcases surviving structures that serve as testaments to the wide variety of Victorian architectural styles, including the Moorish Revival, Richardson Romanesque, Arts and Crafts-inspired Foursquare, Eastlake, and Queen Anne styles.

Key Concepts

  1. Victorian Era in Los Angeles: The Victorian era in Los Angeles, from 1837 to 1901, marked a significant period of transformation and architectural development, leading to the construction of numerous Victorian-style homes.

  2. Architectural Styles: The article highlights various architectural styles prevalent during the Victorian era, such as the Moorish Revival, Richardson Romanesque, Arts and Crafts-inspired Foursquare, Eastlake, and Queen Anne styles.

  3. Prominent Examples: The article features specific examples of Victorian homes, including their historical significance, original owners, and current status, such as the Queen Anne-style mansion built by Andrew McNally, the charming middle-class Glendale house, and the Monrovia Historical Landmark No. 4 designed by Joseph Cather Newsom.

  4. Architectural Features: The descriptions of the homes emphasize unique architectural features, such as ornate woodwork, multiple fireplaces, dramatic staircases, wraparound porches, and intricate interior and exterior designs.

  5. Historical Context: The article provides historical context by mentioning the original owners of the homes, their roles in the community, and the social significance of these architectural marvels during the Victorian era.

These concepts collectively provide a rich understanding of the Victorian architecture in Los Angeles, offering insights into the historical, cultural, and architectural significance of these remarkable structures.

If you have any specific questions about the architectural styles, historical context, or notable features of these Victorian homes, feel free to ask!

A mapped introduction to LA’s Victorian mansions (2024)

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