1950 N. Edgemont Street 90027 - J. W. Blank Residence
1950 N. Edgemont Street 90027 Los Feliz USA
Historic-Cultural Monument, Spanish Colonial Revival
“J. W. Blank Residence”
Harry Hayden Whiteley, architect.
Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #1068 declared 5/13/2014.
Click here for Los Angeles Department of City Planning Recommendation Report, which has additional details on the property’s architectural and historic significance.
The J. W. Blank Residence was one of the earlier homes built in the Los Feliz Square subdivision, which was one of several tracts laid out in the area South of Griffith Park by the Janss Company, which had bought the land from department store magnate, Arthur Letts, whose spacious estate was immediately to the West of the Square, which is legally known as Tract No. 3907. The Janss Company had also recently subdivided Windsor Square and would later develop the community of Westwood.
The large Spanish Colonial Revival house was designed by the architect, Harry Hayden Whiteley. Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture is indigenous to Southern California as a revival of the architecture of Spain that predominated in the early history of the area. The Blank residence is of particular note as it exemplifies the best aspects of the style with its use of high quality design, materials and workmanship.
The house was one of the early homes in “Los Feliz Square”, which was a development subdivided in 1920 by the Janss Family, along with the real estate mogul, Arthur Letts, who had originally planned on using the 60 acre subdivision site as a part of his estate, which was located just to the West. The tract was marketed as an exclusive area and the Blank Residence was the type of high quality home that was to be built in the subdivision.
John Karl William Blank was born in Andreastal, Stolp, Germany on March 9, 1855 and came to Baltimore Maryland with his father and brother 14 years later. He became a United States citizen in 1892, just before he married Willmina Anna Stewart, a native of Kansas City, Missouri on June 29th of that year. The Blanks lived in Emporia City Kansas, where John worked as a wholesale produce agent and a real estate agent before moving to California. They had three children, Karl Edwyn Blank (1894-1980), Helen Wilhelmina Blank (1897-1996) and Pauline Elizabeth Blank (1903-2003), all born in Kansas, The Blanks only had Pauline still at home when they came to California to retire.
John Blank had made plenty of money in his work and commissioned Harry Hayden Whiteley to design their dream retirement home. By this time, Pauline Blank was attending UCLA, which may have been partly what brought the family to Los Angeles. It here that she found her calling as an artist, She graduated in 1926 with a degree in education, then earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree at Columbia University after studying art in Paris.. Upon returning to California, she started teaching in public schools, but then taught briefly at UCLA, followed by her permanent position at Los Angeles City College, where she taught art in ceramics. It was most likely at UCLA that she met fellow ceramic artist Laura F. Andreson. By 1940, Andreson had moved into the Blank house. Andreson was born in San Bernardino, where her grandfather had founded the towns first bank, on October 7, 1902
Pauline Blank had begun teaching art at UCLA in 1933 after graduating from the university summa cum laude in 1932. In 1933 she established the ceramics department at the school. With little experience and limited equipment, she taught herself the ancient art of making pots from cast and hand-built forms., She took some time off to earn a Master’s Degree in painting from Columbia in 1937. After her return to UCLA she decided that it was ceramics, rather than paint, that she would specialize in. The art of hand-made pottery had died out after the Industrial Revolution and she decided that it was time to bring it back. It also gave her a fertile area for exploration and experimentation. She learned along with her students how to make the most of the low-fire earthenware clays that were then available. In 1944 she learned to use a potter’s wheel from Viennese expatriate Gertrud Natzler and through some of her students, Carlton Bell, who they had studied under at Mills College, in Oakland. Her work specialized in the Modern area, taking cues from both the Bauhaus-style Modernism and Scandinavian design. She was one to experiment and then use new discoveries, such as the stoneware clays that were discovered in California in 1948. She was also a pioneer in the use of porcelain as an art form. Her first exhibition was held at the Rene Rosenthal Gallery in New York in 1937, followed by dozens of other shows at venues such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Honolulu Academy if Art.
Upon her retirement from UCLA in 1970, the university presented a historical survey of ceramics celebrating her contributions to the field. The university hosted an exhibition of her work, along with many pieces that she had collected in 1982.
John Blank passed away in 1942 and his wife in 1953. Pauline Blank inherited the property and continued to live there with Andreson, eventually putting the ownership into a trust in both of their names. Besides creating their own work, both women were avid collectors of the work of other artists. Their home became an off campus place of study for UCLA art students, even after their retirements, Laura Andreson passed away at home on August 16, 1999, at the age of 96. In 2001, Pauline Blank made a $100,000.00 endowment to the UCLA Art School. She passed away on August 8, 2003, at the age of 100. The Blank Residence was sold to the present owners the following March, which was the first time it had been sold since it was built, having been in the Blank Family for 76 years.
The architect, Harry Hayden Whiteley, had a long and productive career. Born Bakersfield, California on March 26, 1890, He began his architectural career in Los Angeles just before World War I and it grew considerably. One of his early commissions was for the design of the library building at Barlow Sanatorium (HCM No. 504) in 1921. He later designed the buildings for the Black-Foxe Military Institute, which included the McDonnell Residence (HCM No. 618).
By the time he was hired by John Blank, Hayden was a well-established young architect in Los Angeles, specializing in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style. Eventually so much of his business was in the San Diego area that he relocated there from his home in Beverly Hills. Eventually he made the move to Las Vegas for similar reasons, becoming one of the main designers of hotels along the Strip and other building throughout the fast growing City. He passed away in Las Vegas on February 24, 1970, at the age of 79.
The J. W. Blank Residence was built at a time of rapid residential development in Los Angeles and the Los Feliz Area. Los Feliz was developed as an upper-middle class neighborhood adjacent to Griffith Park, which had a greater variety in housing options – from small bungalows to elaborate two-story homes. The style of Los Feliz was various revival styles, from Italianate, American Colonial Revival, Mission, Tudor and – in the case of the J. W. Blank Residence, the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The Los Feliz area was originally developed as an upper middle class community with most of the homes being custom designed by many of the best local architects of the day, utilizing various revival styles. The Blank Residence was a custom home, commission by its owner and designed by Harry Hayden Whiteley.
The J. W. Blank Residence is an L-shaped two story house designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style with an asymmetrical front facade, utilizing a traditional plan and stucco cladding, reminiscent of the Spanish and Mexican adobes that preceded it. The main facade of the house has a transverse roof gable with open eaves and is constructed of wood frame and stucco cladding. A secondary gable extends to the front of the structure on the North end. A garage located at the left rear of the property is designed in a similar style to the main house. There is also a swimming pool to the rear of the house that was constructed in 2005 and is not considered a historic part of the property.. Traditional details carry through the interior of the house including a curved tile staircase which is located at the rear of the spacious entry foyer of the house, with a sunken living room and a secondary maids staircase at the rear of the house.. The staircase is joined near the top by a maid’s staircase that goes to the kitchen.
The J. W. Blank Residence retains a strong association for historians and the neighborhood and the historic Los Feliz community as a Spanish Colonial Revival residence.
Home of Laura F. Anderson, Associate Professor of art at UCLA. She was appointed to the Municipal Art Commission for a term ending July 1, 1957 by Mayor Norris Poulson on October 15, 1953. A nationally known ceramist, Miss Anderson has taught at UCLA since 1932. (Source: Daily News, 10/15/53)
1950 Edgemont Street (Value: $28,000): 1) John W. Blank, owner and head of household; 76 year old white married male; married at age 37; born in Germany; parents born in Germany; speaks German; to US in 1866; a naturalized citizen; not working. 2) Anna W. Blank, wife; 60 year old white married female; married at age 23; born in Missouri, father born in Tennessee, mother in Missouri, not working. 3) Pauline E. Blank, daughter; 25 year old single white female; born in Kansas; a public school teacher.
1950 Edgemont Street (Value $15,000): 1) John W. Blank, head of household; white married male 86 years of age; born in Germany; not working. 2) Anna W. Blank, wife; white married female 70 years of age; born in Missouri; not working. 3) Laura Andersen, lodger; white single female 37 years of age; born in California; teacher, pottery manufacturing; state university; earns $2,400. 4) Pauline Blank, daughter; white single female 37 years of age; born in Kansas; art teacher, junior college; City College; earns $2,750.
Type: Historic-Cultural Monument Sold
Area: 4,014 sqft
Year Built: 1928