Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses - apartment houses

Designers: Fitzhugh, Thornton, Architect (firm); Thornton Fitzhugh Sr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1906-1907

3 stories

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40 South Saint James Place
South Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90007

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IN-born Architect Thornton Fitzhugh designed the Mayfair Apartments in 1906 to appeal to wealthy Los Angelenos who wanted some of the benefits of hotel living with none of upkeep requirements of a single-family house. An office/bell boy was being hired in 05/1907 indicating that the apartments maintained some sort of staff to assist residents. (See Mayfair Apartments Classified Ad, Los Angeles Times, 05/12/1907, p. IV2.)

Building History

Mrs. Virginia H. Macon and her daughter, Addison C. Macon, "refined, educated Virginians," owned the Mayfair Apartments, located in the posh Saint James Park tract in South Los Angeles. The Macons commissioned architect Thornton Fitzhugh (1864-1933) to design an "Italian style" apartment building "...for Los Angelenos who prefer a high class apartment residence, with the best of hotel accommodations." The building contained apartments with suites of two to seven rooms, each with the advanced technological features of the day, including an electric elevator, telephone and steam heat. The Macons marketed the building as a luxury establishment. Each suite had polished floors and beamed ceilings, and the floors were covered in "genuine oriental rugs." The Macons sought only to established city residents: "The apartments are being leased by the year to permanent Los Angeles residents, and in no sense are they intended for tourists." (See "The Most Modern and Artistic Apartment House in Los Angeles," Los Angeles Times, 11/11/1906, p. v21.

The architect included an unusual amenity in the Mayfair Apartments: separate servants' quarters in the same building. The Los Angeles Times advertisement/article stated: "One of the most unique and appreciated appointments is the servants' quarters. On the top floor of the building in the rear are special servants' quarters, with baths, permitting the employment of servants without the necessity of having them live in one's immediate apartments." (See "The Most Modern and Artistic Apartment House in Los Angeles," Los Angeles Times, 11/11/1906, p. v21.) This maximized the sense of privacy and living space available in relatively small apartment confines.

Building Notes

The stucco-sided apartment building was of "frame expanded metal lath and cement construction." Fitzhugh was an expert in reinforced concrete design, having worked for railroads designing various types of utilitarian buildings and structures.

The building stood three stories tall, its arched windows trimmed with florid ornamentation. Ornate wrought iron balconies projected off the front and side elevations. Fitzhugh appointed the roof to be an outdoor living area. His presentation drawing indicated that that the roofline had an open arcaded section on one side of the front facade and a pergola-covered living area on the other.

PCAD id: 10005