Set your GPS: The location of
St. James Park
AS WITH MANY EXCLUSIVE REAL ESTATE developments in Los Angeles, there have always been those nearby that have hitched their wagons to the originals—think of the phrase "Beverly Hills adjacent" in some offerings of houses actually in West Hollywood, for instance—and St. James Park was no exception. The broader area to the park's north and west were often promoted as being "in" St. James Park, including properties above 23rd Street and in the Ellis Tract west of Scarff Street on the map above. Perhaps because St. James Park was older than it neighbor, Chester Place, and not dominated by one family as was that Doheny stronghold, its air of preeminence was greater. (Borrowed prestige was also now combined, true of Berkeley Square, among other West Adams neighborhoods.) For our purposes here, however, we will confine ourselves to those residences—15 houses and two genteel, now-combined apartments buildings—that, by our powers of blog authorship, we deem the addresses claiming a legitimate St. James Park imprimatur. "St. James Park," we so decree, is within the polygon, boldly numbered, centered on the actual open space of the same name, and outlined in red on the map above. Just below is a composite of Sanborn insurance maps that further display the buildings we are covering.
You will notice that "St. James Park" comprises not just its central square and the roadways on its west and north sides but also the street between Adams Boulevard (née Adams Street) and 23rd, as well as the divided east-west roadway—originally designated as part of West 25th Street—between Chester Place and Scarff Street. As the rapacious Dohenys acquired as many of the original Chester Places lots as they could, they also bought more property along 25th/St. James Park and annexed it into their domain. Gates were placed approximately 225 feet to the east of the north-south St. James Park roadway leading from Adams; by the spring of 1902, the east-west street had been divided between the two developments, underscoring their rivalry for social renown. (To be noted is that one house built before the gating, the 1888 Victorian extravaganza of Walter Scott Newhall that many decades later became, in an art director's rendering, the home of television's The Addams Family, had its address changed at this time from 735 West 25th Street to 21 Chester Place.)
In later years, the roadway leading from Adams would be designated St. James Place. The streets surrounding the park itself were later identified in city directories as, oddly, St. James Park South, and the east-west street, St. James Park West. Today, the roadway at the east side of the park and all of its houses are gone, replaced by buildings of the Frank D. Lanterman High School. All that remains of the original architectural ensemble of St. James Park are the storied 1900 Stearns-Dockweiler house at #27; #13; #17; #19; and #44, the now-combined structures of the two original apartment buildings at Scarff Street.
Illustrations: Historic Map Works; Proquest; Google Street View