AKA: Doheny, Edward Laurence, Sr., and Estelle, House #1, Chester Place, West Adams District, Los Angeles, CA; 8 Chester Place House, Chester Place, West Adams District, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Eisen and Hunt, Architects (firm); Neff, Wallace, Architect (firm); Rosenheim, Alfred Faist, FAIA, Architect (firm); Theodore Augustus Eisen (architect); Sumner P. Hunt (architect); Edwin Wallace Neff Sr. (architect); Alfred Faist Rosenheim (architect); Charles Marion Russell (artist)

Dates: constructed 1898-1900

3 stories

8 Chester Place
Chester Place, Los Angeles, CA 90007-2518

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Building History

The Los Angeles architectural firm of Hunt and Eisen originally designed the house at 8 Chester Place for mining engineer Oliver P. Posey (1845-1930), his wife, Sara (born 06/1860 in NJ), and their family in 1898-1900. The Poseys moved to Los Angeles in 1893 from CO, and settled into a house on Figueroa Street. When it came time to build a new residence, they consulted a neighbor, Theodore A. Eisen (1852-1924), a well-established local architect. Posey served as President of the Nevada Copper Mining Company as well as six other mining interests, responsibilities that forced him to work long hours and to travel. They lived in their new house at 8 Chester Place only a very short time. The 1900 US Census indicated that on 06/14/1900 he and Sara lived there with their two sons, John (born 09/1880 in WI) and Oliver W. (born 07/1883 in WI), his mother-in-law, Sara A. Vangieson (born 11/1830 in NJ), and two servants. A note on a California Index card at the Los Angeles Public Library indicated, however, that "Oliver P. Posey...sold the house--without having lived in it--to Doheny. Reason given by the Posey son was that his mother did not want to live in so large a house alone when her husband was way." (See LAPL California Index, "Residence--Los Angeles--Doheny, E.L." Los Angeles Times, 12/15/1899 pt. II, p. 3. Accessed 12/10/2011.) It's possible that Oliver traveled for much of 1900 and did not actually reside there, although his family did. Dissatisfied with the dwelling, the Poseys sold it and its furnishings to the oil baron, Edward Laurence Doheny, Sr.,(1856-1935) on 10/24/1901 for the then-absurd sum of $120,000. While Edward Doheny liked the house, his second wife, Carrie Estelle Betzold Doheny (1875-1958), did not, and he gave her carte blanche to renovate it to her liking. She repainted the house's exterior a pale green and re-landscaped the grounds before moving in during 1902. The renovation became newsworthy, particularly after the national popular homes magazine, House Beautiful, published an article on it. The noted Western artist, Charles M. Russell (1864-1926), executed murals in the Doheny House. 8 Chester Place was later occupied by Mount Saint Mary's College; the school used it for faculty housing.

Building Notes

This house was located in Chester Place, an exclusive 20-acre enclave within the West Adams District, that contained home sites for 12 very wealthy homeowners. The Posey House was one of the Chester Place sub-division's two earliest residences and contained 22 rooms laid out on 3 stories.

The wealthy enclave had its own police patrol, called the "Chester Place Night Watch Service," commanded by John S. Hendrickson (d. 1916) between 1902 and 1916. The service had an office in the back of No. 10 Chester Place. Hendrickson captured a wanted criminal named David Canary, who attempted to break into the house of E.L. Doheny on the evening of 11/09/1904. Canary, who had previously killed a police officer in Oakland, CA, exchanged fire with Hendrickson in front of the Doheny residence; two of the bullets wounded Canary, and one shot off one of Hendrickson's vest buttons. Hendrickson's luck ran out in a gun battle in front of the West Adams entrance to Chester Place on the night of 01/24/1916. He surprised two young bandits armed with revolvers who exchanged shots wih Hendrickson, hitting him in the chest. He died en route to a nearby hospital at age 52. (See "Officer Slain in Night Fight on Chester Place," Los Angeles Times, 01/25/1916, part II, p. 1.)


In what was an eight-sided patio, Los Angeles architect Alfred Faist Rosenheim (1859-1943) added the "Pompeiian Room," a lavish entertainment room, lined with art glass by the Los Angeles Art Glass Company and topped by a gold favrile glass dome designed by the firm of Louis C. Tiffany; Rosenheim began this remodeling job in 1906; in 1909, the architects, Walker and Son, designed a ballroom in the attic story of the Doheny House, costing $6,000; according to Gebhard and Winter, An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles, (2003), p. 283, Rosenheim also made several additions and alterations (most visibly to the front entry) to the building in 1913; architect Wallace Neff (1895-1982) and the interior designer, Horace Mann, structurally reinforced and renovated the interior of the house repairing damage caused by the Long Beach Earthquake of 1933; they remodeled the interior in the French Rococo Style at this time. The Doheny Estate donated the Chester Place house to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles around 1958; Mount Saint Mary's College altered the Doheny House shortly after receiving it from the Archdiocese, using it as the focus of its Mount Saint Mary's College Doheny Campus;

PCAD id: 1975