5470 W. Los Feliz Boulevard 90027 - Clifford Clinton Residence
5470 W. Los Feliz Boulevard 90027 Los Feliz USA
Historic-Cultural Monument, Spanish Colonial Revival
“Clifford Clinton Residence”
Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #997, declared 5/18/2011
Click here for Los Angeles Department of City Planning Recommendation Report, which has additional details on the property’s architectural and historic significance.
Significance Statement for HCM:
The home of the founder of Clifton’s cafeteria, the house was designed in 1928 by the architect Arthur W. Larson for its original owner-builder.
Clinton arrived in California in Los Angeles from San Francisco in 1933 and bought what became Clifton’s Brookdale Cafeteria on Broadway. Four years later, he was appointed to the Los Angeles county grand jury where he soon made a name for himself as a foe to the corruption that he saw in the city government. He was soon at odds with Mayor Frank Shaw and police chief James E. Davis. The investigation he took on was the expose the corrupt underbelly of the city and would bring about the political downfall of the mayor and police chief as well as usher in a new city charter after the successful recall of Shaw in 1938, accompanied by the election of Judge Fletcher Bowron as the new mayor.
An ally to the mayor’s office, Clinton became a major political player well before his 40th birthday and remained such for years.
Development of Los Angeles because he was one of the most influential individuals behind the scenes in Los Angeles politics at a critical times when the city was racked by corruption at the highest levels.
Clinton served on the 1937 Los Angeles grand jury and used that capacity to investigate corruption of high ranking city officials who allowed illegal activities to flourish through bribery, etc. He work was to ultimately bring down the Mayor, Frank Shaw, and let to the ouster of the police chief, James E. Davis, and the drafting of a new city charter.
Clinton was born in Berkeley, CA on August 3, 1900 to Edmund J. and Gertrude (Hall) Clinton. His parents had worked as Salvation Army missionaries in China and were to install a strong sense of Christian morality in their children. Clifford was the second oldest with eight sisters and two considerably younger brothers born to his stepmother, Rose. In 1910, the family returned to China, where his youngest sister, Grace was born in 1911.
After their return to Berkeley, his father got into the cafeteria business, managing and later buying seven in the bay area. Clifford was married to his wife, the former Nelda M. Patterson at 19 and was soon running his father’s business, which he took over before he was 30.
In 1931, he bought several operations (missing text). In 1931 (missing text) to grand jury.
A number of effort were made to show that Clinton was a fraud and only grandstanding to promote himself and his cafeterias, but the corruption was undeniable in the long run. By 1938, the row resulted in a Clinton-orchestrated recall of Shaw. The Los Angeles Times endorsed Shaw, but the electorate voted to thrown him out of office and elected superior court judge Fletcher Bowron, a Clinton ally, to the mayor’s office. Both men were known as “reformers” and Bowron went to work cleaning up the system. Clinton was instrumental in drafting a new city charter which was voted in to place in 1939.
During this time, Clinton also hosted a radio spot on KEKE for fifteen minutes on weekdays at 9:30 am He frequently had guests on the show that were knowledgeable about the corruption and reformers such as future mayor Fletcher Bowron on the show.
Clinton’s effort also resulted in the ouster of Davis who had been at the helm of LAPD since 1926, as well as many of his top aides. The corruption that was in the department was harder to get rid of and was not finally crushed until the early years of Chief William Parker’s tenure in the 1950s.
Clinton joined the US Army in 1942 where he was in charge of the commissary at Pt. Benning, Georgia. He had previously served with the tank corps in WWI. He ran for mayor in 1945 but placed second behind Bowron.
After the war he helped underwrite research to find ways combat hunger, resulting in the invention of meal-like protein residue that was known as a “multipurpose food” (MPF). He then spent a year working with the UD Government and the United Nations to promote MPF. In 1946 he established “Meals for Millions: as a nonprofit corporation.
The large house at 5470 Los Feliz Blvd had originally been built in 1928 by contractors Walter B and W. Lloyd Lauman, who were known for hiring architects to design large custom spec houses. The large house was designed for the Laumans by Los Angele architect Arthur W. Larson. They then sold the house to John E. Lauck, a retired manager from US Tin Plate Company in Pittsburgh PA. Lauck passed away in 1931. His wife, Katie, transferred the property to Clinton in 1937. Later that year Clifford Clinton hired the engineer Pascal P. Paddock to design and build a large elevated swimming pool and bath house over the existing driveway.
The Clintons were to remain in the home until 1949 when he sold it to Lillian E. Schramm. After Schramm passed away in 1955, it was sold by Security Bank, the heirs of her executor, to Jorge Hoyos. The Hoyos family retained ownership until May 14, 2010 when the estate sold to the current owners.
Click here to read article on Clifford Clinton, written by his son Don, published in the LFIA Observer in 2010. Scroll to page 6.
L. Katie Lauck, grantor to Nelda M. and Clifford E. Clinton 02/03/38. Clifford and Nelda Clinton to Lillian E. Schramm 01/25/49. (Source: LA Block Book Co.)
Original owners lost house to foreclosure. A realtor set up his office in the living room. In 1935 C. E. Clifton and family were first residents . Prior to the Clintons’ residence , (Source: Clinton’s daughter and heir to Clifton’s Cafeterias, Jean Clinton Roeschlaub.)
Clifford Clinton was the last entry in the Cafeteria Hall of Fame. Clinton, a descendent of New York Governor, DeWitt Clinton, was born in Berkeley of parents who were both captains in the Salvation Army. He was a missionary in China, returning to enter the restaurant business with his father. With $2,000 in capital, he opened his first cafeteria. (Source: Heustell, Bruce, “Sunshine and Wealth in Los Angeles in the 20’s and 30’s,” 1984.)
This was the home of Clifford E. Clinton, founder of the Clifton Cafeterias in 1931. In 1935, he received an unusual request from County Supervisor John Anson Ford who asked him to review the food purchasing at County General Hospital. That investigation led the supervisor to nominate him to the County Grand Jury in 1937, where he discovered rampant illegal gambling and prostitution being protected by the police and pay-offs that were being funneled through the mayor’s office. These revelations led to wire-tapping, harassment and threatening calls at the house, and finally, at midnight on October 28, 1937, a bomb went off in the kitchen. The bomber turned out to be LAPD Captain Earle Kynette who was sentenced to San Quentin for 10 years to life. This led a recall of Mayor Frank Shaw and the Chief of Police along with about 40 high-ranking officers and patrolman, who had been taking bribes and kickbacks. (Source: Donald Clinton, 2010).
Account of bombing of the house in “A Short History of Los Angeles,” Gordon DeMarco, 1988, p.137.
Arthur W. Larson, architect.
5470 Los Feliz Blvd (Value: $82,500): 1) John R. Lauer, owner and head of household; 68 year old married white male; married at age 28; born in Virginia; father born in Kentucky, mother in Virginia; not working. 2) Lukatie Lauer, wife; 62 year old white married female; married at age 19; born in Kentucky; father born in Ireland, mother in New York; not working. 3) William R. Grove, servant; 40 year old married Negro male; married at age 20; born in North Carolina; parents born in North Carolina; a servant in a private family. 4) Gertrude C. Grove, servant; 41 year old married Negro; married at age 21; born in New York; father born in New Jersey, mother in New York; a servant in a private family.
5470 Los Feliz Blvd. (Value: $30,000): 1) Clifford E. Clinton, head of household; white married male 39 years of age; born in California; proprietor/buyer for a restaurant; earns over $5000. 2) Nelda M. Clinton, wife; white married female 38 years of age; born in California; manager of a restaurant; earns $2,600. 3) Edmund J. Clinton, son; white single male 18 years of age; born in California; in school. 4) Jean Marion Clinton, daughter; white single female 16 years of age; born in California; in school. 5) Donald Clinton, son; white male 13 years of age; born in California; in school. 6) Fred A. Patterson, father-in-law; white married male 68 years of age; born in Iowa; caretaker in a private family; earns $600. 7) Dora B. Patterson, mother-in-law; white married female 65 years of age; born in Missouri; housekeeper in a private family; earns $360. 8) Nora G. Gilkey, maid; Negro single female 32 years of age; born in Arkansas; servant in a private family; earns $660. 9) Eleanor Cantwell, lodger; white married female 42 years of age; born in New York; waitress in a restaurant; earns $780. 10) Stephen E. Patterson, lodger; white divorced male 33 years of age; born in California; not working.
Type: Historic-Cultural Monument Sold
Area: 5,866 sqft
Lot Size: 14,840 sqft
Year Built: 1929