Nathan Marsak


  1. Castle dweller
    June 8, 2010 @ 5:13 am

    I have often commented about how photos of the old Bunker Hill tend to be of buildings without the context within which they existed. While looking at them and enjoying them for what they are, I often wish that the photographer had just turned down the street and taken another photo which would give us the context. Well, who know that George Mann was that photographer? I am especially greatful for the the photo of S. Bunker Hill Ave. showing the east side of the street across from the Castle and 333. I grew up on this block, living at 310 as a young child.

    Gordon Pattison, aka Castle Dweller


  2. babylon baroque
    June 10, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

    Once again I am amazed.

    I am in no way a scholar on LA or it’s taste in architecture, but LA seems to have had it’s very own twist on Queen Anne/ Aesthetic Movement architecture. The Mystery House with it’s Indo-Moorish- Aesthetic influences a true novelty; it’s a marvel. The only “house” that I can compare it to would be Brighton Pavilion. I will make the assumption that it is now long gone.

    Romantic tales work best if they hurt, LA is full of ’em.

    Roman @ Babylon Baroque


  3. nathan
    June 18, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

    The mystery house has been discovered, and it’s a better tale than one could have ever hoped for. 

    The great Rick Mechtly, of course, contacted me to say that there was another image of the structure, by Reagh at the LAPL.  While I knew that it was exactly the kind of place Reagh would’ve shot, in my haste (and stupidity) I went through more Reagh at Sacto than here at Central.   Shazam:


    As you can see, it’s become a Subud House.  And dang’d if the fates were kind enough to include the street sign!  Belmont and Kent.  Which no long exists, really, but no matter, a little digging and scratching and poking at the 1906 Sanborn, and:

    sanbornseggy And that’s when my jaw dropped.  Segnogram, eh?  Segno!  I knew I’d seen that house before.  Or, more accurately, that Institute.  In fact, it’s been pictured before, right here, on OBH’s earlier incarnation, the 1947project.  

    Of Victor Segno there’s much to be said — here’s a taste:



    …I’ll let the great Larry Harnisch tell you more about him here and here.

    The corner of Belmont and Kane (later renamed Clinton) is improved in the Summer of ’04:


    The architect is one G. E. Voelkel, either this George E. Voelkel, San Franciscan who moved to Los Angeles and got quite busy, or just another G. E., perhaps the son.  In 1902 G. E. was awarded patent 0710307 for a fireproof house.  Fireproofing involved concrete; he designed concrete houses on Raymond in Pasadena; a twelve-room, two story concrete house at 1236 W. 4th, one at 1409 St. Andrews Place; plus some concrete warehouses and commercial structures around the city.  He also put up frame houses, possibly concreted, at 756 Ruth Ave., Wall at 11th, Michigan and Boyle, Maple at 11th, Maple at 17th, Orchard at 30th, Monte Vista and 50; the last mention of Voelkel is in 1911, for a 20-room frame apartment house at 1249 Crown Hill Ave., etc.  From what I can garner, nothing of his work remains, with the possible exception of the W. 30th near Orchard, though that’s not very precise, and modern apartment buildings lurk about.  

    It’s in May of ’04 that the patented fireproof concrete American Institute of Mentalism is announced, it of "early Spanish Renaissance" design.

    Note the globe atop.


    The interior coutyard, looking toward the entrance:


    Check out the other structure of theirs, their printing plant, up Kane/Clinton:


    Reagh shot that, too.


    Let’s go to Inspiration Point and visit the house now!


    Zoinks!  What happened?  In 1973 the Allyn E. Morris-designed Lago Vista Condominiums, that’s what.  Buy one now!

    The vintage pix of the Institute are from the Echo Park Historical Society‘s amazing page on Segno, and for a gaggle of images designed to thrill and possibly kill, go here.  


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