While taking the tour, enjoy some insight into the history of Mar Vista!

The beautiful craftsman home at 3658 Mountain View was built circa 1914.  In 1907 the lot on which it sits was purchased by Freeman G. Teed, the Los Angeles City Auditor from 1886-88.  After his promotion to City Clerk in 1889 Teed became embroiled in an infamous sweetheart deal in which a sewer that was to be built on land owned by Anderson Rose – the man after whom Rose Avenue in Mar Vista is named – at an outrageous price to the tax payers and the great profit of Rose.  The contract was supposed to be submitted to and singed off by the mayor, but was instead endorsed through the back door by Teed.  The underhanded deal was exposed and the contract nullified.  Teed survived the scandal to become president of the Los Angeles City Council from 1892-94. 

Just across the street from 3635 Grand View is a roomy, well-preserved craftsman home built in 1911 by John L. Fleming, one of the most prominent pioneers of Mar Vista.  Fleming began practicing law in 1900 and became a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in 1914.  He was appointed advisory counsel to the original Mar Vista Chamber of Commerce, organized in October 1924, and two months later he opened the first known gas station in the community, near the northwest corner of Grand View and Venice – today roughly the site of the Grand View Cleaners and the liquor store next door. In 1923 Judge Fleming tried a divorce case involving legendary silent screen star Barbara LaMarr, the most scandalous actress of her time.  During an age when a divorce could brand a woman scarlet, Barbara went through five husbands before her drug-induced death at age 29.  This Hollywood jezebel seems to have broken up a few marriages as well: in the divorce proceedings in which she appeared before Fleming she was “the other woman”.
          The judge was no stranger to controversy himself.  In 1931 he resigned as bank president during a receivership scandal.  And charges of professional impropriety were leveled against him several times during his 19 years on the bench.  In 1933 he was recalled from office for wielding improper influence in a trial involving Pauline Starke, another Hollywood silent starlet.

The oval shaped neighborhood surrounding 11819 North Park Avenue was, until 1909, a lima bean field owned by John J. Charnock. Designed by eminent landscape architect Wilber David Cook, the oval opened to the public in 1912 as Palm Place, a "suburb of refinement and distinction" where "culture predominates." Contrary to wide-spread belief, the oval was never a race track. Watch for the wild flocks of birds overhead. Parrots? Parakeets? Read this article by Roseann Herman and photos by Stephen Boskin and then see them for yourselves and tell us what you think!

photo by Stephen Boskin

photo by Stephen Boskin

         Rancho La Ballona, the 14,000 acre Spanish land grant given to the Talamantes and Machado families in 1819, was a nearly square tract of land whose approximate boarders were Pico Boulevard on the north, the Pacific Ocean on the west, Jefferson Boulevard on the south, and Hughes/Manning Avenues on the east.  At almost the exact center of the former Rancho is the intersection of Centinela Avenue and Venice Boulevard.  It was around this intersection that Mar Vista sprouted up in a 15-month frenzy of subdivision activity that began in the summer of 1904 – a full year before Abbott Kinney’s Venice of America opened to the public July 4, 1905. Check out the many gardens around 3440 Cabrillo these are part of the old Mesa Ballona tract, laid out in 1904. This area was planted with crops until the late 1940s.  

Mar Vista Carrot Fields 1927 - photo courtesy of Mar Vista Historical Society

In 1947 the eastern-most 5.5 acres of this field was purchased by the L. A. School District, which built Beethoven Elementary School on the site. The first classes were held on December 1, 1947. The following year the other 14.5 acres of the field were bought up and Mark Twain Middle School opened on September 12, 1949.  There is something wonderful about land that was once home to fields of lima beans now coming full circle to be a home to so many edible gardens.

       The original version of the house at 3406 Keeshen Drive was purchased in July 1956 by a couple named Almon and Florence Dibble.  Florence has been given credit as Mar Vista’s first librarian.  She opened one of two small library sub-stations in her home at 12425 Gilmore Avenue in 1927, a time when that area was still considered Mar Vista territory.  The other sub-station was also established in 1927 in the Busby Building, today the home of Floyd’s Barber Shop at Grand View and Venice.  The Dibble home was modified into its current look in 1979-80.

       Historical information was provided by the Mar Vista Historical Society. The Mar Vista historical society provides walking tours of two of these historic neighborhoods – Ocean Park Heights and Venice View Heights (Mormon Hill).  For information about these tours and to make reservations, visit our website at www.marvistahistoricalsociety.net and click on walking tours.