Monday, June 20, 2022

Wait, There Was A French School Tract?! And a Henriot Avenue?!

Modern-day Los Angeles has a number of French-language private schools. The very first is long defunct; it was founded long ago by Teresa (sometimes written as Therese or Theresa) Bry Henriot.

Teresa Bry is said to have cut her teeth teaching in Geneva, Switzerland before departing for faraway Los Angeles. Besides French, she spoke German, English, and Spanish well enough to teach in all four of those languages.

Teresa Bry was born in 1822 - not in Switzerland, as some sources claim, but in Italy (census records bear me out on that) to an Italian mother and a Swiss father. She has been described as "highly educated", but her educational background has proven elusive, along with many other details of her life.

1880 census record of the Henriots
1880 census records of the Henriots

In any case, Teresa Bry moved to Los Angeles in 1854 and married French-born gardener François Henriot four years later. She was 32, he was 27. 

I've mentioned previously that early LA's Italian community was very small and there were even fewer Swiss Angelenos. In the 1850s, the few Italians and French-speaking Swiss in LA were welcomed by, and often associated with, the much larger French population. Intermarriage, in and of itself, would not have been surprising.

Harris Newmark knew the Henriots and described their marriage thusly: 

"This matrimonial transaction, on account of the unequal social stations of the respective parties, caused some little flurry: in contrast to 226her own beauty and ladylike accomplishments, François's manners were unrefined, his stature short and squatty, while his full beard (although it inspired respect, if not a certain feeling of awe, when he came to exercise authority in the school) was scraggy and unkempt." 

Opposites attract, or so they say.

Madame Henriot would establish her French School (later the Henriot School) on San Pedro Street at First Street, about a nine-minute walk from the core of the French Colony. Directory listings tend to place the school on the western corner of the intersection. Today, it's firmly within Little Tokyo. Newspaper advertisements suggest that the school opened its doors February 2, 1874. 

In those early days the school could very well have been run out of their house - the 1875 city directory lists "Henreot Mrs T., teacher French School, San Pedro nr First" and "Henreot F, res San Pedro nr First". Several pages later, the directory lists "French School - Mrs. T. Henreot, Teacher. Average number of pupils, 28. School, San Pedro nr First." (Yes, the directory misspelled every instance of Henriot.)

Lessons were conducted in French, with optional Spanish and German classes. The multilingual Henriots both spoke Spanish well enough to have letters published in La Crónica. In fact, La Crónica favorably described Mme. Henriot (in part and translated from Spanish): 

"We know that said lady, known to everyone in our county and City of Los Angeles, is one of the most talented and appreciable teachers in California, which is why she is justly appreciated by our Hispanic-American population."

Ad for the Henriot School in La Crónica, 1874

The Henriots, Teresa more than François, had several letters published in La Crónica.

It isn't clear when François Henriot gave up gardening to become a teacher, but the Henriots eventually taught and ran the school together. In time, demand for French-language education grew enough that the school on San Pedro Street was insufficient, and a combination day and boarding school had to be established somewhere with more space.

So where did Mme. Henriot's French school go when it left downtown?

I found references to the school relocating to Pasadena, or close to it, at an unknown date. Yet, I could find no record of the Henriot School in Pasadena. To its great credit, Pasadena seldom erases its own history. Hmm.

While searching for any available information on the Henriots, I found a reference to a Henriot Avenue in a list of tax-delinquent properties.

Henriot Avenue referenced in a delinquent tax list

Newspaper ad referencing the Henriot School "near Sycamore Grove, on the Pasadena road", 1884

Newspaper announcement mentioning the school was "at Arroyo Seco", 1886

From these newspaper clippings, we can conclude three things: that there was a street named for the Henriots, that it was "near Sycamore Grove, on the Pasadena road" (hence the misbelief that it was ever in Pasadena), and that it was "at Arroyo Seco".

Street names can be a very telling indicator of who lived in an area long ago. But where was Henriot Avenue?

Street name changes, Los Angeles Herald, 1896

Street name change announcement referencing "Henriot's subdivision", 1896

So Henriot Avenue became Dayton Street. And it got a name change when Los Angeles annexed Highland Park.

A quick search pulled up Dayton Avenue in San Pedro (nope), Pomona (nope), and in Pasadena, but not near the Arroyo Seco or "the Pasadena road" (nope). So the street must have had another name change.

According to genealogist Steve Morse, Dayton Avenue became North Figueroa Street in Cypress Park. If you're starting out downtown, Cypress Park is on the way to Highland Park. And of course North Figueroa Street extends all the way through Highland Park until it turns into Scholl Canyon Road in Eagle Rock.

Sanborn maps from 1906 bear out Morse on the name change. They also show a large wooded area nearby (now gone and filled in).

Google Maps screenshot showing North Figueroa Street (formerly Henriot Avenue) intersecting with Pasadena Avenue. Very close by are Theresa Street and French Avenue. Just out of frame to the right is the Arroyo Seco.

So, Henriot Avenue became North Figueroa Street. If you're starting out downtown, Cypress Park is on the way to Highland Park. And of course North Figueroa Street extends all the way through Highland Park until it turns into Scholl Canyon Road in Eagle Rock.

The above Google Maps screenshot shows North Figueroa Street, aka Henriot Avenue, intersecting with Pasadena Avenue. Very close by are Theresa Street, probably named for Mme. Henriot, and French Avenue.

I have been scouring the internet in vain for a map showing Cypress Park in the 1880s, when the school was open. I have yet to find one. Even Sanborn maps let me down this time - the earliest one I could find is from 1906, after the campus was redeveloped.

Still, given the geographical evidence, I feel comfortable saying the Henriot School was located somewhere along Pasadena Avenue, near North Figueroa. I will continue to look for 1880s maps of the area to pinpoint a more precise location.

In a likely sign of the times (more English speakers were flooding into LA), the Henriot School eventually switched to conducting classes in English, with optional French and Spanish courses.

From this 1903 real estate transaction, we can conclude that Francois Henriot subdivided, and resubdivided, the "French School tract", presumably including the former campus, and that the tract included the former Henriot Avenue.

I found one reference to Mme. Henriot passing away in 1888, with no further details. Another source suggest it was 1898, which tracks with M. Henriot passing away in 1903 (in the French Hospital). Harris Newmark stated that they died five years apart.

Presumably M. Henriot closed the school and subdivided the campus after Mme.’s death, with it taking the name "French School Tract".

There is a mysterious footnote to all of this: one of my books states that an oil portrait of Mme. Henriot was displayed in the County Museum (now the Natural History Museum) at the time of publication. Some time ago I reached out to the Museum asking about the portrait, as I have never seen it displayed. The book didn't reference the artist, and the portrait isn't in the Seaver Center's database. The collections manager mentioned that it would be difficult to trace without knowing the artist's name, and suggested it may have been part of a temporary exhibition by the California Art Club. However, this doesn't seem likely, since the reference is from decades after Mme. Henriot's death.

Does anyone out there have any idea what happened to the portrait, or do I have to go on a mission to find it like Indiana Jones? After belongs in a museum.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

What's In a Name?

I finally got a chance to start watching Bosch: Legacy.* 

I highly recommend it, don't get me wrong, but I couldn't help cringing when the very first scene of the first episode involved multiple instances of Vignes Street being pronounced "VIG-nezz". 

There has been considerable debate over how Vignes Street should be pronounced.

Vignes means "vines" in French (fitting for a vintner from Bordeaux), and in French, "vignes" (referring to vines) is pronounced more like "veen" (I'm simplifying, but I'm sure you get the idea). 

However, French rules of pronunciation don't necessarily apply to proper names. Case in point: Taix is pronounced "Tex". 

The few references to pronunciation I can find state that Jean-Louis Vignes' surname is pronounced "vines". Frances Dinkelspiel, who is an award-winning journalist, the author of Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California, and a descendant of another prominent Los Angeles winemaker (Isaias Hellman), says it's pronounced "vines"

Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times helpfully suggested via Twitter that an older newspaper account might spell the name phonetically. In 9 years of digging as deeply into the family as I can, I have yet to see that.

(I checked again, since more old newspapers are digitized each year. No luck again, and to my consternation multiple newspapers - mostly small ones based in NorCal - mistakenly claimed that El Aliso winery was on the site of Union Station - no wonder that tired myth has hung around for so long - and a 1972 article in the Desert Sun referred to to Vignes as "young". He was, in fact, 52 when he arrived in Los Angeles. I also found a very long and detailed article about Vignes' children suing their cousins for a cut of El Aliso. Boy, did it get ugly!)

When Jean-Louis Vignes was alive, French speakers outnumbered English speakers by a wide margin (incidentally, Vignes himself was the reason for this). The Vignes-Sainsevain family was prominent enough in a town of about 6,000 people (about one-tenth of whom were French) that the pronunciation of their names was probably well known, and Vignes (who died long before English became LA's dominant language) was "Don Luis del Aliso" to most people anyway.

None of this is still the case in 2022, 160 years after Vignes' death. Most Angelenos don't even know who Vignes was.

So I'll just put this out there: Are there any Vignes/Sainsevain descendants out there who would be so kind as to clarify how "Vignes" is pronounced?

I suspect it's "vines" (for starters, I trust Dinkelspiel's expertise). Maybe it was "veen", and I've also heard "vin-yay".

But there's no way in hell it's "VIG-nezz"; what native French speaker would brutally butcher their own name like that in a city where most people spoke Spanish or French? Hearing "VIG-nezz" makes my ears bleed (and I'm a metalhead with noticeable traces of Valspeak in my speech, so THAT is saying something). So I'm hoping we can get some clarification on that and hopefully send "VIG-nezz" to go live on a nice vineyard upstate with its friends "Pick-o" and "Sepple-veeda".

*I'll let you find out for yourselves which classic detective novel was referenced in the first episode. I was also amused when one character stated that his family made their money first with gold, then steel, then aerospace - shades of the Ducommun family.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Humble Surgeon

Those of you in the medical field may have heard the name Dupuytren. 

Baron Guillaume Dupuytren, a brilliant surgeon, pathologist, and professor of medicine, had humble origins as the son of a penniless lawyer in Pierre-Buffiere, France. He attended medical school in Paris while the French Revolution raged, became Chief Surgeon of the famed Hôtel-Dieu during Napoleon's reign (supposedly treating the Emperor's hemorrhoids), and amassed a huge fortune. Eleven medical terms bear the Baron's name. He was widely disliked due to being pompous, combative, conniving, miserly, and a harsh critic, but he was such a talented surgeon and teacher that it didn't stop him from treating an estimated 10,000 patients a year (including Napoleon, King Louis-Philippe, and King Charles X).

Some of the Baron's huge fortune went to establish a chair at the ècole de Médecine and some of it went to establish a home for doctors in distress. The Baron had also offered a million francs to Charles X when he was newly overthrown and bankrupt. 

The Baron was also quite generous with his nephew.

Dr. Jean-Baptiste Pigné-Dupuytren

The Dupuytrens had been far from wealthy; the Baron attended school on charity and still had to work at the same time. His sister and her husband were struggling farmers in Limoges. Their son Jean-Baptiste Pigné was delivered in 1807 by a colleague of the Baron's, one Professor Cruveilher. 

The Baron had no son to inherit his estate or title, and legally adopted Jean-Baptiste with Napoleon's assistance, adding his own surname to his nephew's. He then enlisted Professor Cruveilher to see to the boy's education, making it as complete as possible. Jean-Baptiste attended the best schools in Paris, received a bachelor's and master's, and had the Professor as his own private tutor when studying medicine and surgery. 

After completing his medical studies in France, Jean-Baptiste was sent to Heidelberg, Germany for further studies (for which he also mastered German). After graduating, the Baron sent him to the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh for still more medical studies under English-speaking professors. 

Dr. Jean-Baptiste Pigné-Dupuytren, by now 38 years old, was put in charge of the Museé Dupuytren, an anatomical museum founded by the Baron, and was made prosector of dissection materials for anatomy students at the Hôtel-Dieu. He did not care to stay in France due to ongoing political upheaval (the 1848 Revolution was just around the corner), and left for New York, bringing all the medical equipment and furniture he would need to set up a practice. (Le Guide Francais states that as of 1932, the bed that had come over from France with the Doctor was still in the possession of his daughter Leona. Does anyone out there know its current whereabouts?)

Dr. Pigné-Dupuytren rubbed elbows with the likes of railroad barons and the owners of Delmonico's restaurant in New York, but wanted to see the rest of the United States. Armed with multiple letters of recommendation, he visited Niagara Falls, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans (a city he favorably compared to France). He attempted, unsuccessfully, to set up a practice in New Orleans. Upon returning to New York a few months later, the Delmonico brothers asked him to go to San Francisco to oversee the second restaurant they had just established. San Francisco was booming, and the restaurant would only take part of his time. The doctor accepted. 

Legend has it that Commodore Vanderbilt offered Dr. Pigné-Dupuytren a free ride around Cape Horn on one of his ships. However, another source states that he in fact sailed on the Sea Witch, which was owned by Howland & Aspinwall, and which was known to sail from New York to San Francisco via Cape Horn during and after the Gold Rush.

San Francisco's population was growing so exponentially that the Doctor's first practice was in a tent, owing to a severe shortage of office space. Or, for that matter, any indoor space at all.

Before long, Dr. Pigné-Dupuytren backed the Marquis de Pindray, Count Gaston de Raousset-Boulbon, and dozens of other San Francisco Frenchmen on a failed expedition to Arizona and Mexico, with the goal of reopening old silver mines and establishing a French colony. The people of Sonora, understandably, weren't having it, and the Marquis was killed in a raid. Most of the survivors returned to San Francisco.

Just a few years later in 1856, Dr. Pigné-Dupuytren was called to perform autopsies on James Casey and Charles Cora, lynched by San Francisco's Vigilance Committee for allegedly murdering a newspaper editor. The doctor was the founder and first President of San Francisco's prominent French organization Ligue Liberale, and doubled as editor of French-language newspaper Courier de San Francisco. He was such a prominent San Franciscan that he was one of a few residents chosen to represent the city at the 1867 World's Fair in Paris, and brought over 3,000 mineral specimens to exhibit. While living in San Francisco, he became friends with both Prudent Beaudry and the diplomat J.A. Moerenhout, who we'll meet at a later date.

In 1874, the Doctor sent his wife Isabella (née Grain, born in New York to a French colleague) and their daughter Leona to Los Angeles to establish a new home. He followed on the Orizaba a few months later, and at some point purchased a plot of land at what is now 7th and Grand downtown. And, of course, he renewed his friendships with Beaudry and Moerenhout.

One source states that Dr. Pigné-Dupuytren traveled back and forth between San Francisco and Los Angeles until permanently settling in LA around 1883, another states that he took on a smaller clientele in LA so he could spend more time on other interests. Newspaper accounts seem to place the family in both cities off and on, and one indicates that Dr. Pigné-Dupuytren's Los Angeles practice could have opened as late as 1877.

Dr. Pigné-Dupuytren served a term as President of the French Benevolent Society and had a stint as Vice President of the Southern California Medical Society.  The Los Angeles Times described the doctor, in part, as "one of the best-informed men to be found, and could talk well and to the point about any given subject, his store of knowledge on all topics being apparently inexhaustible." The doctor also doubled as an editor for two of LA's own French-language newspapers, unsuccessfully attempting to revive L'Union (which had a negative reputation for its prior owners' irregular publishing schedule) and going on to edit Le Progrés. Due to his advanced age, he resigned after one year and was succeeded by Georges Le Mesnager.

When the well-heeled surgeon died in San Diego County in 1886, his friend and colleague Dr. E.A. de Cailhol delivered the eulogy at the funeral. In part:

"The deceased has often laughed with me over the circumstance, which seemed to run counter to his modest desires, arguing that he would never bear the title for several reasons: First, because he himself was unworthy of it, having never done anything remarkable; second, because being an unflinching and determined Republican, it would be a reproach to accept an empty title." (Note: Dr. de Cailhol's use of the word "Republican" probably referred to French politics. Although Dr. Pigné-Dupuytren was a naturalized US citizen, the threat of the French monarchy's restoration had a hand in prompting him to leave France.)

True to his word, Dr. Pigné-Dupuytren had never accepted the title of baron (his famed uncle had died in 1835). He seems to have been content to be a doctor, polymath, and sometime adventurer in the Old West.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Open Letter to the Los Angeles Times

Dear Editors:

I am posting this publicly because whenever I contact publications privately regarding factual inaccuracies, they ignore me and never correct anything.* 

I’m honestly not trying to put LA’s paper of record on blast (for the record, I am a subscriber myself and read the Times every single day). I just want greater awareness of the facts.

I am writing to ask that the Times please issue two corrections to an article published on May 3rd, regarding the origin of some local place names.**

I am not in any way faulting the writer of the piece; her work is excellent and I enjoy reading it each week. However, two errors still somehow made it to print. 

Mary Agnes Christina Mesmer Griffith was not, and could not have been, a Verdugo descendant. Her parents Louis Mesmer Sr. and Katherine Forst Mesmer were both immigrants from Alsace, France.

There is no record of the Mesmer family having any ties to Jose Maria Verdugo’s native Mexico. There is no record of the Verdugo family having any ties to eastern France or western Germany (Alsace changed hands while the Mesmers were alive). I have spent considerable time exploring and there is no real indication that the Mesmers could possibly be related to the Verdugos.

Additionally, while the Mesmers were indeed land barons, they did not inherit their properties from the Verdugos. The Mesmers were very successful entrepreneurs who invested their earnings in land. 

Mrs. Griffith did inherit a significant amount of real estate, but it had belonged to Andre Briswalter, a friend of her father’s. Briswalter was also from Alsace.

As to the second correction, Mrs. Griffith was not blinded in one eye. The bullet destroyed her eye and what was left of it had to be removed. The veil she wore for the rest of her life also hid scarring from gunpowder burns (Griffith shot her from approximately two feet away).

Again, I am not faulting the writer of the piece. I happen to know that someone else is entirely to blame for spreading the myth of the Alsatian-born Mesmers somehow being descendants of an early Californio family.

Mary Agnes Christina Mesmer Griffith went through quite enough when she was alive and has mostly been forgotten. I believe we owe it to her to be as accurate as possible when mentioning her life.



*Sole exception thus far: the good people at Mental Floss, who promptly corrected an inaccuracy regarding the number of generations between Louis XIV and Louis XVI.

** May 10, 2022 - one week since the errors ran and no correction has been made. This is why I post the facts!

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Romaine Grand and the Brick Victorian

1030 East Cesar Chavez Avenue is tucked away in an odd little pocket of industrial Los Angeles fenced in by the 101, the 10, some rail yards, and the river. Is it Boyle Heights? Is it Lincoln Heights? Is it Aliso Village? Sources disagree. Heck, Zillow thinks it's in "North Alamo".

That odd little pocket is mostly made up of auto shops and auto parts vendors. The presence of a nightclub and a high-end linen store on the same block hint at the possibility of encroaching gentrification. 

Halfway down the block, 1030 hides behind a mature tree and a black brick-and-metal fence. This house, a very rare single-story brick Victorian built in 1890, has been Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #102 since 1972. It was landmarked not for its long-ago owner, but for its architectural significance.

The house's long-forgotten owner was Romaine Grand, a French blacksmith born in 1844. By 1875, the city directory listed him as both a blacksmith and a wagon maker on New Aliso Street (or at 106 Aliso, later at 476 Aliso). Romaine Street bears his name, and it's hinted that he may have been the namesake for Grand Avenue.

Romaine, sometimes written as Romain, Roman, or Ramon, was married to Gracieuse (sometimes written as Gracious or Grace) Bayonne, a French speaker from the Basque provinces. It's rumored that the Grands had a longer, Basque surname and changed it, but I have not found conclusive evidence of this.

Romaine's letters and advertisements in La Crónica indicate that he could speak Spanish well enough to cater to Spanish-speaking customers. 

Advertisement for Romaine Grand's wagon works in La Crónica, 1883.
Side note: in modern Spanish, "carroceria" means "bodywork".

In 1890, the little brick house went up at 1030 Macy Street. No, it didn't move - the street name changed in 1994.

The house isn't big - 5 bedrooms and one bathroom in 1736 square feet. The oldest Grand children were already young adults when it was built, and census records suggest at least one was living in a boarding house. It's rumored that the Grands originally intended to build a two-story house, but ultimately only built the ground floor. A single-story Italianate house is highly unusual for Los Angeles, and it is one of only a few surviving brick Victorian houses in the city.

There are a few other residential buildings on this block, but all of them date from the early 20th century and don't have the same charm.

1030 Cesar Chavez Avenue, Google Maps, January 2022

Comments on an old Big Orange Landmarks post suggest that the house's current owner intended to convert it into apartments, which conflicts with the house's landmark status. The house, as you can see from Google Maps, is currently fenced off and not in the best repair. Blogger Floyd Bariscale's photos of the house, taken in 2007, show it in much better condition.

I wonder what Romaine Grand, who owned a successful carroceria, or wagon works, would think of his house being surrounded by modern-day carrocerias - body shops - and auto parts stores. Grand passed away in 1900, before Los Angeles became overrun by automobiles.

If anyone out there has current information on Romaine Grand's poor little house, please let me know. It pains me to see this house facing such neglect.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

The Barn is Back!

The Le Mesnager barn, long closed to the public, is finally reopening.

The stone barn, built long ago by Georges Le Mesnager, was converted into a house after it was damaged by a fire and a flood in the 1930s. Members of the Le Mesnager family lived in the converted barn until 1968.

The barn has been adapted into a nature center, and will reopen on March 19.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Little Houses on Bernard Street

Bernard Street is in Chinatown. That is, the short block of Bernard Street that concerns today's entry is in Chinatown. 

Bisected by the 110, Bernard has another short block in Elysian Park, and lends its name to an angled extension of Yale Street (shades of Bauchet Street). Many years ago, this was Jean Bernard's brickyard, which he subdivided into the Bernard Tract.

It's quiet in this upper corner of Chinatown. Despite its proximity to both Chinatown Central Plaza and Cathedral High School, the only sound is the soft whooshing of cars - on one end, getting on or off the 110; on the other, driving up or down Broadway. On the south side of Bernard Street, the neon-trimmed Royal Pagoda Motel (reportedly closed at the time of writing) reassures you that yes, you're still in Chinatown and didn't wander into a time warp. This is the side of Bernard that made a cameo appearance in "La La Land" - probably the only time most Angelenos have ever seen Bernard Street.

Sitting in the dark watching the film for the first time, I crossed my fingers, silently begging for the camera to pan to the north side of the street to show the little houses. It didn't.

"La La Land", which shows an incredible (if geographically improbable) checklist of locations in Los Angeles County, didn't show viewers the little houses on Bernard Street. But I will.

Fritz Houses on Bernard Street

Philip Fritz, born in France* in 1844, built three of these little houses between 1886 and 1892 to house his family - himself, his mother, his wife Louise, and their three teenage sons Philip Jr., George, and Fred. Two of the houses remain. The missing house, number 417, was moved to Wilshire and Normandie long ago, and the last time I checked, there were no Queen Anne cottages in Koreatown.

The Fritzes were from Alsace, which ceded to Germany in 1871. Tired of political upheaval and not interested in answering to the German government, hundreds of thousands of French speakers left the Alsace-Lorraine. Philip went ahead in 1873, secured work as a carpenter, and was able to send for his family ten years later.

411, 415, and 417 Bernard Street. Detail from 1894 Sanborn Map.

Philip became a railroad carpenter, working for Southern Pacific's Buildings and Bridges department, and eventually rising to the rank of Superintendent . Where Bernard dead-ends at Broadway (then called Buena Vista Street), a parking facility separates the street from Los Angeles State Historic Park, formerly "The Cornfield" (so named for volunteer stalks of corn that sprouted from loose corn kernels that fell out of freight cars). This was the home of the first Southern Pacific Railroad depot, and explains the Fritzes living a mile away from Frenchtown proper. In the 1880s, Chinatown was still Sonoratown.

When Philip and Louise became US citizens in 1888, land baron Louis Mesmer, who was also from Alsace-Lorraine, swore to their residency, moral character, and principles.

Philip Jr., also a railroad carpenter, was arrested in 1887 for resisting arrest in a riot (several unruly drunks had been throwing explosives to frighten horses), and suffered a seizure near Spring and Temple while being escorted to the police station. Instead of calling for a doctor, the police carried him the rest of the way. Per the Herald, "This started the cry that he had been killed, and cries of 'he's killed, shoot the officers,' arose and for a time it appeared as if there was danger of a serious riot." A few days later he was arraigned, but released, with the Herald noting that he was "considered a good boy" and chalking his arrest up to being in the wrong company. Another account indicated that he had in fact been pushed against the officer and did not deliberately assault him. Two months later, Philip Jr. suffered another seizure on Spring Street and was taken to the city jail for treatment.

Was Philip Jr. "a good boy"? Well...

In 1891, Philip Jr. was arrested for fighting with coworker Pat Murray (the newspaper indicated that one of them broke a cane over the other's head). In 1892, he faced battery charges twice. He was fined $10 after kicking a newsboy into the middle of the street for pestering him to buy a newspaper. His excuse was that he wasn't feeling well that day. The other battery charge was brought by a girl named May Clausen and bail was set for $100 (about $3000 today).

Philip was arrested for insanity in Goshen (Tulare County) in 1894. When it was discovered that he had been drugged and robbed, he was sent to the county hospital to recover, but remained afflicted for some time.

Philip Jr. had married Delphine Belaude, the English-born daughter of Alsatian immigrants, in 1890. Their daughter Louise, born in 1891, was raised by her grandparents at 411 Bernard Street. As for Philip Jr., he was only 27 or 28 when he passed away in 1896.

Middle brother George Fritz, who lived in the lost house at 417 Bernard Street, became a railroad engineer and was considered one of Southern Pacific's most trusted employees. One day in 1904, he was working in the roundhouse and was crushed between two locomotives. George was rushed to Sisters' Hospital, but died from his injuries hours later. He was just 32 years old. 

Fred, the youngest Fritz brother, was also a railroad carpenter. He married for the first time at age 45 - to a 21-year-old bride named Pansy. They had a son, Walter, and the 1920 census shows them living at number 417. By 1930, Fred was divorced and living in the house alone.

411 and 415 Bernard Street, with 417 long gone.
Detail from 1950 Sanborn Map.

Louise Fritz - Philip Jr.'s daughter - lived in number 411 until she married her first husband, Clyde Henry Stone, in 1917 and moved to number 415 next door. Their son Philip Stone died mere days after his birth, and when Louise sued for divorce in 1924, it was on the grounds of adultery and extreme cruelty. 

Louise then married firefighter Louis Vernon Parker, continuing to live at 415 Bernard Street. Unfortunately, Louis was a habitual - and violent - drunk. Their divorce was finalized in 1935. 

In the 1930s, when the Arroyo Seco Parkway onramp was built, the street had to be widened. 411 and 415 were moved 15 feet. The lost house, 417, was moved to Wilshire and Normandie, where it was used  to model housing modernization in a program co-sponsored by the Federal Housing Administration and the LA Times.

By this time, Old Chinatown and portions of the Plaza area had been demolished, displacing Chinese Angelenos, who began to move into Sonoratown. At a time when many Angelenos still didn't care to have Chinese residents living nearby, Louise got along well with her Chinese neighbors and often patronized Chinese restaurants. One story claims that when two Chinese children were not permitted to keep two cats in their boarding house, they asked Louise to take care of the cats (she reportedly did). 

Angels Walk stanchion with photo of Louise Fritz Whiting

Angels Walk stanchion with picture of 411 Bernard Street

Louise married for the third and final time in 1937, to letter carrier Otta Ira Whiting. He passed away from natural causes in 1950. 

Philip and Louise Sr. had both passed away by this time (Philip in 1932 and Louise in 1941), and Louise moved back into number 411. She lived in the house until her death at age 100 in 1992.

The Chinese Historical Society bought the property from surviving relatives of the Fritz family in 1994, turning the little houses on Bernard Street into the Chinatown Heritage Center. As with the French Hospital several blocks away, an Angels Walk stanchion outside references the property's history. In total, the Fritz family owned the houses for 108 years.

Time marches on. Cars whoosh by. Chinatown continues to gentrify. The Cathedral High School Phantoms play on athletic fields built over Old Calvary Cemetery. Shutterbugs take pictures of downtown from Los Angeles State Historic Park, posting them to Instagram and Reddit. Somehow, the little houses are still quietly standing on Bernard Street.

Chinese Historical Society at 411 Bernard Street

*Some sources, including Philip's passport application, list his birthplace as Germany. Preuschdorf, the commune (township) where Philip was born, was part of France until the Franco-Prussian War and is well within its current borders. Despite the German-sounding surname, the Fritzes were native French speakers. It's not a coincidence that some DNA tests don't distinguish between French and German ancestry.