4784 W. Cromwell Avenue 90027 - William W. Welfer House
4784 W. Cromwell Avenue 90027 Los Feliz USA
Historic-Cultural Monument, Spanish Colonial Revival
“William W. Welfer House”
Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #1117, designated in 2016.
A. F. Leicht, architect.
Click here to see Los Angels Department of City Planning Recommendation Report, which has additional details on the property’s architectural and historic significance.
Statement of Significance for HCM:
The Welfer Residence was built in 1923 in the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style, which was important to the development of Los Angeles because it was one of a handful of indigenous styles that found their beginning in Los Angeles. The style evolved from the earlier Mission Revival that had its roots in the original late 18th and early 19th Missions that were built in California. However, there were other early Spanish Colonial buildings in the Southwestern United States that served as patterns for the design.
The style came in many manifestations, many heavily influenced by the Mediterranean Revival that also made its mark immediately after the First World War. The romance of Hollywood also had an impact on these Iberian designs. The Welfer Residence also has a strong Mission Revival influence with its parapets and tiled roof drainage system. The structure has a unique shape, designed by an architect whose career started in Queens New York in the mid-1880s. Leicht’s work in New York and New Jersey is frequently cited in architectural books on the late 19th and early 20th Century periods with his later California work cited for its unique quality of design. Leicht’s own home was located at 462 N. Vermont and in later years he used it as his office as well. The house was removed by the construction of the Hollywood Freeway in the late 1940s.
Leicht is frequently credited with the design of Aimee Semple McPhearson’s Angelus Temple in Echo Park. However permit records show that it was designed by the architect William H. Wheeler. Leicht may have had a hand in its original construction and he definitely did work on it later, designing a school addition for the building as well as several other un-built additions. He also designed several “Gospel Lighthouses” for Mc Phearson. However a dispute over payment for his work on a mansion that he designed for Mc Phearson caused Leicht to take the evangelist to Court to capture his fee. He suddenly abandoned the fight and had his case dismissed with prejudice in 1929. No explanation has been found for Leicht’ s dropping his suit.
An original rendering believed to be of the proposed mansion has been found and the design is very similar to, but more elaborate than the Welfer Residence. He remained in Los Angeles for at least a year, and then returned to West Orange, New Jersey, where he passed away on July 31, 1933 at the age of 70. Little has been found on William W. Welfer, the owner-builder of the house or his wife, Fame. Their daughter, Vantia, is listed city directories as a clerk. They had one son, Harry, who is listed in the 1922 City Directory as an “assistant motion picture director”. The elder Welfer was born in 1861 in Pennsylvania and worked as a grocer before the family moved to Los Angeles, where he was a farmer in 1910. By the time he built the house on Cromwell, he was retired. Both their son and daughter were still living with their parents in 1930. By then, both were listed as clerks. William Welfer passed away in 1932 and Fame died on June 22, 1942. Harry and Vantia sold the house to Albert J. and Muriel Desmond in 1949. Desmond was an engineer and was the one who braced the chimney in order to prevent it from falling in an earthquake. Although it is during the Desmond period that the rear window change outs occurred, it is unknown if they were before or after Albert’s 2003 death, although the aluminum design indicates the 60s, 70s or 80s. The Desmond’s daughter, Kathleen, sold the property to its current owner in 2006.
The unique design of the Welfer residence, coupled with the design being by the architect, A. F. Leicht of bi-coastal fame. The Welfer Residence was included in the Los Feliz Historic Resources Survey in 2001. The Welfer Residence had previously been nominated for Historic Cultural Monument status in 2013, but was declined with a 2 to 1 vote in favor of designation when one commissioner dissented due to the rear window changes. The current owner retained Revival Arts Restoration and Kevin Kuzma has begun the process of restoring the original window designs to the house, utilizing the architect’s original plans to replicate the missing casement windows.
Click here to read “A.F. Leicht in Los Feliz, A Man Apart” by Rich Magram, Los Feliz Observer, p. 10, Fall 2015, LFIA.
Listed at $1,699,000 in July, 2006. (Source: real estate flyer)
4784 W. Cromwell Avenue: (Value: $34,000): 1) William W. Welfer, owner and head of household; 69 year old white married male; married at age 24; born in Pennsylvania; parents born in Germany; not working. 2) Jane S. Welfer, wife; 64 year old white married female; married at age 19; born in Pennsylvania; parents born in Pennsylvania; not working. 3) Harry A. Welfer, son; 44 year old single white male; born in Pennsylvania; an assistant Director in the motion picture industry. 4) Hantia Welfer, daughter; 37 year old single white female; born in Pennsylvania; a bookkeeper in the oil industry.
4784 Cromwell Avenue (value $8,000): 1) Harry Welfer, head of household; white single 55 year old male; born in Pennsylvania; Assistant Director in motion pictures. 2) Fannie Welfer, mother; white 75 year old widow; born in Pennsylvania; not working. 3) Ventea (Hantia ?) Welfer, sister; white single 49 year old female; born in Pennsylvania; bookkeeper in an oil company; earns $1800.
Type: Historic-Cultural Monument Sold
Area: 3,267 sqft
Lot Size: 9,580 sqft
Year Built: 1923