Friday, September 23, 2016

Blended: The Larronde/Etchemendy Family

237 North Hope Street
(can you believe this was torn down for a DWP building?!)

Some people believe that single parents and stepfamilies are a modern phenomenon. That simply isn't true. For most of human history, it was far more common for children to lose a parent to illness, accidents, war, etc. than it is today.

Were there blended families in Frenchtown? Of course. Jean-Louis Sainsevain is known to have married at least twice and had two stepchildren in addition to his two sons from his first marriage.

But we've covered the Sainsevain brothers. Today we're going to meet a different blended family.

Our story begins in the Basses-Pyrénées in southwestern France. Pierre Larronde was born there in 1826; Jean Etchemendy was born there in 1830. Although the two men did not know each other early in life, they both lived in South America, mined in the California gold rush, and moved to Los Angeles to raise sheep.

Juana Egurrola was born in Marquina, Spain, in 1835, emigrating to California with her family as a child. In 1865, she married Jean Etchemendy.

Jean owned the Rancho San Pedro, raising sheep there until the day he died (the rancho's museum is said to still have samples of wool from his sheep). He was quite successful at it, and got into real estate.

Jean and Juana had three daughters - Mariana, Madeline, and Carolina. Sadly, Jean died in 1872. He was only 41.

It wasn't long before Juana caught the eye of Pierre Larronde.

Like Jean Etchemendy, Pierre Larronde had made a good amount of money mining gold in Northern California before coming to Los Angeles to raise sheep (there is some evidence that, like Jean, he may also have raised sheep at Rancho San Pedro). He married Juana in 1874.

Juana and Pierre had three more children together - Pedro Domingo, John, and Antoinette.

When the land boom hit in the 1880s, Pierre liquidated his sheep empire to invest in real estate. He had so many business dealings that by 1892, the city directory simply listed his occupation as "capitalist".

By 1887, Pierre had built the Larronde Block, a two-story brick building with one of the rarest things in Los Angeles - a basement! Stores, offices, and a tailor shop could be found on the ground floor, with apartments upstairs.

The Larronde block stood on the northwest corner of Spring and First Streets. Le Guide reported that the land was still owned by the Larronde/Etchemendy family. However, not too long after Le Guide was published in 1932, the Larronde Block was demolished to make room for the Los Angeles Times building.

In 1888, construction began on a large and beautiful home for all eight members of the Larronde/Etchemendy family. The house, located at 237 N. Hope Street, was three stories high and, appropriately for Bunker Hill, in the Queen Anne Revival style.

Pierre lived to be 70 years old, passing away in 1896. Juana died in 1920 at the age of 84.

The six Larronde/Etchemendy children stayed in the house on Hope Street, with only two of them choosing to move away.

Pedro Domingo Larronde became one of the principals of the Franco American Baking Company. Antoinette Larronde got married and had a family of her own.

Of the remaining siblings, John Larronde served the city as president of the Fire Commission. He died in 1954, as did Madeline Etchemendy. Mariana and Carolina Etchemendy lived into the 1960s, and only moved out of the house when the demolition of Bunker Hill forced them to do so.

The Larronde/Etchemendy family lived at 237 N. Hope for nearly 80 years. The house was demolished in 1957. Today, the Department of Water and Power takes up the entire block.

Jean Etchemendy, Pierre Larronde, and Juana Larronde are all buried at Calvary Cemetery - beneath one large pedestal topped by an angel statue. I can only presume that Juana wanted to be buried with both of the men she loved when she died.

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