AKA: Maier, Edward, House, University Park, Los Angeles, CA; Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet Convent, University Park, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Brown, Carroll H., Architect (firm); Carroll Herkimer Brown (architect)

Dates: constructed 1890-1891

3 stories

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2421 South Figueroa Street
University Park, Los Angeles, CA 90007

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This flamboyant essay in the usually more sedate Richardsonian Romaneque Style was erected for a Michigan-based lumberman, T.D. Stimson, who retired to Southern CA. One of the city's most expensive residences when built (costing about $150,000), the Stimson House was designed by Carroll H. Brown, a notable, young architect working in Los Angeles, CA, during the 1880s-1910s. Brown also designed a large commercial office building for Stimson in Downtown Los Angeles at about the same time.

Building History

Architect Carroll H. Brown (1861-1920) designed this residence for the NY-born lumber magnate Thomas Douglas Stimson (1828-1898) in 1890 and supervised its construction in 1891. Stimson started building his timber empire in the State of Michigan. In the early 1850s, Stimson, alone and in partnerships, began to purchase extensive acreage of pine lands, first near his home in Big Rapids, MI, in the northwestern portion of Lower MI, then in the area around Muskegon, MI, and later throughout the state. Much of this was bought as timber land, to supply lumber mills in Big Rapids, MI, (begun in 1858) and the Muskegon area (established in 1880). He also had an ownership stake in several railroads, including the Big Rapids and Western Railroad, developed in part to move his cut timber from forest to mill. The family used trains and their own steamships (they owned four in 1884) to move lumber.

By 04/1869, he was established enough to become one of Big Rapids's first alderman when the city incorporated. He continued to maintain a residence there with his wife, Achsah Jane Spencer Stimson (1834-1904), and their six children, Willard Horace Stimson (b. 1854), Olive Jane Stimson Fay (1855-1907), Charles D. Stimson (b. 1857), Ezra Thomas Stimson (1861-1924), Frederick Spencer Stimson (b. 1867), and Jay D. Stimson (1870-1900) in 1880. By the early 1880s, T.D. Stimson and his sons extended their business interests to Chicago, IL, and to Seattle, WA, by 1889. Between 1886-1891, T.D. Stimson directed operations of his growing business empire from Chicago, where he purchased a house at 3132 South Calumet Avenue in an exclusive neighborhood surrounded by wealthy businessmen.

Soon after arriving in Los Angeles, Stimson began buying commercial property in Downtown Los Angeles as an investment. Carroll Brown also designed the T.D. Stimson Building at Spring and 3rd Streets in Downtown Los Angeles, CA, in 1893. Stimson had a hard time staying idle during his retirement. He invested in the city's Citizens Bank and became a vice-president of the its Chamber of Commerce.

Brown designed an extravagant essay in the Richardsonian Romanesque Revival Style, the exterior clad completely in costly red sandstone. It had a number of eye-catching and eclectic stylistic features, including its expansive front porch, steep chimneys (Chateauesque in flavor), Flemish stepped gable, and a castellated corner turret. The third floor even featured a Palladian window (sometimes called a "serliana.")

A blackmail plot resulted in an explosive's detonation at the Stimson House on 02/18/1896. The suspect, a supposed private detective, Harry Coyne, had a grievance with the lumberman. The San Francisco Call reported in its issue of 02/19/1896: "About three months ago Coyne was engaged by Mr. Stimson to accompany a son of the millionaire to the City of Mexico. This son was unruly and ungovernable, and the millionaire desired to get him away from the city. When Coyne returned to Los Angeles he found that his office furniture had been attached by a constable to liquidate some of his indebtedness. A few days after his return, Coyne went to Stimson and apprised him that he [Stimson] was in danger of this life. He notified [Stimson] that there were three men in the scheme to either blow up the Figueroa-street mansion, set fire to his lumber-yard or stab him in the back. He made the proposition both to Mr. Stimson and the Chief of Police that if he was paid $250 he would so arrange it that they could capture the men in the act, but he stipulated that he should be one of the men who would make the capture." "(See "Dynamiter at Los Angeles," San Francisco Call, 02/19/1896, p. 4 and "Coyne Was out for Coin," Los Angeles Herald, 02/29/1896, p. 4.)

Following Thomas Stimson's death in 1898, Achsah remained in the house for six years. In 1901, she lived there with a relative on her own. With the two women sleeping in the Stimson House on 08/15/1901, a masked burglar ransacked the residence looking for money. Although many items of value were there to be stolen, the thief wanted only untraceable cash. Unfortunately, all he could find was 70 cents. He then went on to burgle the Crouch House on West Adams Street the same evening. (See "Burglar in Stimson House," Los Angeles Evening Express, 08/17/1901, p. 1.)

The Stimson Family then sold the house and property to the surveyor and civil engineer Alfred Solano (born 05/02/1857 in Los Angeles, CA-d. 11/14/1943 in Los Angeles, CA) and his first wife Ella Brooks Patterson (born 03/27/1852 in Dunkirk, NY-d. 01/21/1932 in Riverside County, CA). The Solanos lived nearby at 2306 South Figueroa Street before 1904 and were acquainted with the Stimsons socially. The Los Angeles Times said of this 2306 South Figueroa Street house in 1932: "The house, when Mrs. Solano lived there, was the scene of many brilliant functions, for she was one of the city's acknowledged social leaders...." (See "Auction to Recall City's Society of Early Days," Los Angeles Times, 04/32/1932, p. 16.) Alfred Solano worked in the Solano-Reeve partnership, an established surveying company in Los Angeles, that obviously prospered enough for him to afford this grand mansion. In 1910, the Solanos occupied the dwelling with three others (either friends or relatives), and a staff of six servants. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: Los Angeles Assembly District 71, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T624_82; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 0201; FHL microfilm: 1374095, accessed 10/31/2022.)

The Solanos resided here until 04/1919, when they sold the "Stimson Castle" to the wealthy German-American brewer Edward Maier. Maier purchased the house for about $75,000, about half of what it cost to be built in 1890. In 1919, the house had a lot 146 by 400 feet in size. (See "For Big Price," Los Angeles Times, 04/13/1919, vol. XXXVIII, sect. V, p. 2.)

Building Notes

This massive Richardsonian Romanesque house featured a wrap-around front porch and corner turret. A hipped-roof carriage house stood detached in the back yard. Two bay windows projected on the house's southwest facade. Its visual weight provided a stark contrast to the platform-framed wood houses in its vicinity.

WIllard H. Stimson and Ezra T. Stimson lived with their parents at 2421 South Figueroa Street in 1893. (See Los Angeles, California, City Directory, 1893, p. 734.)

In 1895, Willard H. Stimson lived next door to T.D. Stimson at 2426 South Figueroa Street. (See Los Angeles, California, City Directory, 1895, p. 1312.)

In 1896, the Sabichi House adjoined that of the Stimson's on Figueroa Street. (See "Coyne Was out for Coin," Los Angeles Herald, 02/29/1896, p. 4.)


Following Thomas D. Stimson's death in 1898, his widow, Achsah remained in the mansion until she died in 1904. The Stimson Estate then sold the house to Edward R. Maier (1883-), who, along with his brother J. Frederick (d. 1909), owned the Maier Brothers brewery in Los Angeles, CA. After Maier's death, the residence fell into the hands of University of Southern California fraternity which did not take the best care of the building. A private owner bought the house from the frat and then deeded it to Mount Saint Mary's College, who utilized the residence as a dormitory. The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondolet founded Mount Saint Mary's in 1925, establishing the first campus at Slauson Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard. Another campus, the Chalon Campus, was created in the Santa Monica Mountains in 1928, and the order took over the former Edward Laurence Doheny, Sr., House #1 (and the Oliver Posey House #1 in Chester Place) as another location in 1962. The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet later repurposed the Stimson Residence, transforming it into a convent.

Los Angeles City Historical-Cultural Monument (Listed 1979-05-16): 212

National Register of Historic Places (Listed 1978-03-30): 78000690 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 4736