Monday, September 18, 2023

Clementine Lamer Did It Her Way

Clementine Lamer wasn't meant to live an ordinary life. How many Angelenos throughout history could accurately claim that they were born in the oldest brick house in the city?

Clementine was, in fact, one of her middle names. Born in 1859 to French immigrants Michel Clement and Marie Bon Clement, she was originally dubbed Marie Jeanne Clementine Clement (some records reverse her first two names) and had an older brother named Michel Victor (who also went by his middle name). 

Michel was a farmer and vintner (newspapers indicated that he owned land next to the El Aliso vineyard), but later sold his winemaking business to his brother-in-law J.B. Bon. It isn't clear when the elder Marie Clement passed away, but Michel remarried in 1864, when Clementine was five. 

Michel passed away when Clementine was thirteen. She attended the Sisters' School run by the Daughters of Charity.

In the meantime, a Qu├ębecois blacksmith by the name of Amable Lamer came to Los Angeles. Clementine married him when she was eighteen. 

Amable soon went into the vineyard business himself, which led to a farm in Burbank. But Clementine pursued a passion of her own - real estate.

An 1884 newspaper account references a parcel jointly owned by Clementine and Victor. That parcel, along First Street east of the river, had previously been part of their father's land holdings. Three years later, a different newspaper gives notice of that parcel being sold by Clementine, Victor, their stepmother Jennie, and Amable. That parcel would later become the site of the Salt Lake train depot.

More news blurbs (too many to post) indicate Clementine's real estate transactions, sometimes with her brother, sometimes with her husband, and over time, mostly by herself.

Clementine was also a mother of six: Edward, Victor, Emma, Florence, Marie, and Louis. Tragedy struck in 1892 when 9-year-old Edward died. 

1894 news blurb noting Clementine Lamer's purchase of bank-owned acreage

1895 mortgage record naming Clementine Lamer and Leonard Labory 

The above mortgage record names a transaction between Clementine Lamer and Leonard Labory - namesake of Labory Lane in Frenchtown. Note that the property is in the Aliso tract. By 1895, El Aliso was long closed, the winery had been converted into a brewery, and some of Jean-Louis Vignes' original property had been subdivided and developed.

In 1919, Clementine bought a bungalow at 553 Angeleno Avenue in Burbank. This wasn't one of her usual transactions, it was for her own family, and they moved in a month later.

Details of Clementine Lamer's real estate deal

1924 article about a valuable real estate deal involving Clementine Lamer's property at 9th and Figueroa

In 1925, the Sisters' School held an alumni reunion. The Daily News photographed the school's oldest and youngest former students together - namely Clementine Lamer and 14-year-old Marjorie Kenny.

1925 photo of Clementine Lamer at Sisters' School reunion with youngest alumnus Marjorie Kenny.

1927 news blurb about Clementine Lamer's trip around the world

Amable passed away in 1926. In 1927, Clementine went on a trip around the world, cabling her daughter Marie at home in Burbank to inform her of the travel group's safe arrival in Honolulu.

Clementine's trip also went to Europe, with the above article snippet indicating she had left Brussels for London.

Clementine Lamer passed away in 1928. She was 69. The Lamers are buried at Calvary Cemetery. Lamer Street runs through Burbank to this day.