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Old Posted Mar 10, 2015, 1:38 AM
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Mrs. Shepherd and the 1st Street cut

Originally Posted by tovangar2 View Post
Another question: Sarah Bixby Smith writes in "Adobe Days" that her second Los Angeles home was the "Shepard house", in the same neighborhood as the Bixby's third home at Court and Hill. She said that the lot in front of the Shepard house "was very steep, with zig-zag paths and terraces." The house ended up "...on top of the precipice made by the cutting of First Street between Hill and Olive". Harrison Gray Otis, I think, also lived in the Shepard house at one time (he had cousins named Shepard). Can anyone tell me more or provide a photo? Thx
Ms. Bixby Smith made a common spelling error, but, yes, T2, there was a Shepherd (not Shepard) home.

The 1888 LA City Directory is the last to show Shepherd occupancy of the home, which was north of 1st Street between Hill and Olive:

Mr. Charles J. Shepherd did not own the property; his wife did. Mrs. Shepherd was a daughter of Los Angeles pioneer William Wolfskill:

June 8, 1876 Los Angeles Herald
Library of Congress --

Likely taken between 1888 and February 1889, this photo looks west at the 1st Street hill beyond Broadway and Hill St. The three-story Highland Villa (R. B. Young, 1886) is at the NW corner
of 1st and Hill. The Shepherd home is behind the trees above and to the right of the Highland Villa. Atop the hill in the middle of 1st Street are a fire alarm tower and electric light mast:


This is the 1888 Sanborn, looking at 1st Street between Olive (top) and Hill (bottom). At upper right is the Shepherd home. The home at left, with the arbor lattice at rear, is 1 S. Hill Street:


Here's a c. 1889 photo looking NW. Hill Street runs along the bottom. The Highland Villa is at far right. The home above/northwest of the Highland Villa, with the long fence in front of it,
is the Shepherd home north of 1st Street. The home SW of the Highland Villa, on the hill above the large flat area, is 1 S. Hill Street on the south side of 1st Street:


This is a closeup of a photo you posted, also c. 1889, looking SW. You can see 1 S. Hill Street's zig-zag path leading down to Hill Street. If you follow the fence from the back of the
Highland Villa to the top of the hill, then look to the right, you can see a bit of the Shepherd home, framed at left, top and right by trees and at bottom by the roof of a home on Hill Street:


Work on the 1st Street cut between Hill and Olive began in February 1889. On March 22, 1889, Mrs. Shepherd obtained a temporary restraining order that stopped the project, claiming her
property would be injured being atop the roughly 70-foot precipice that would be created by the cut, and she would have to protect her property with an expensive retaining wall.

Although work could continue on 1st Street west of Olive Street, Mrs. Shepherd obtained a permanent injunction against "grading, cutting, blasting, or digging" on 1st Street between
Hill and Olive on April 6, 1889. The abrupt end of the work left a large gash on the west side of the hill by Olive Street. The injunction was modified on December 11, 1893, to allow the
city to work on the south side of the 1st Street cut, leaving the north side of the right-of-way as a buffer for Mrs. Shepherd's property above.

Perhaps in anticipation of such an eventuality, M. L. Wicks, the owner of 1 S. Hill Street, above the SW corner of 1st and Hill, moved his home around to 1st and Olive. This Los Angeles Times
article from August 28, 1893, confuses the Wicks home on the south side of 1st Street with the Shepherd home on the north side:


Now here's the 1894 Sanborn, again showing 1st Street, with Olive Street at the top and Hill Street at the bottom. The Shepherd home at upper right hasn't moved. But the home that
was facing Hill Street in 1888 -- albeit a tad altered -- is now facing Olive Street. The arbor lattice behind the home has also been relocated:


Skipping ahead to 1914, here's the former 1 S. Hill Street now at 104 S. Olive, with the four-story Gladden to the left and then the north side of the 1st Street cut:


The difficulties associated with completing the 1st Street cut were reviewed in an October 4, 1895 Los Angeles Times article, which said, “The chief of these difficulties has been the occupancy
of the north side of the hill by Mrs. Shepard [sic], a lady of very positive ideas and much misdirected determination, who has persistently opposed the opening of First Street through the hill in
any shape.” After work on the cut resumed on December 16, 1893, dirt came down from the north side of the hill, and Mrs. Shepherd sued the city for $50,000 in damages. Here's a map that
accompanied that October 4, 1895 article; the Parke property on the corner is the Highland Villa:


The 1st Street cut was opened to traffic in March 1896, although it was only half the width of the street's right-of-way, or about 30 feet. Mrs. Shepherd's lawsuit against the
city for $50,000 finally came to trial in February 1897, but she lost, the finding being that the cut had increased the value of her property, rather than decreased it. But in early
April 1897 she appealed her case.

At this point Mr. Shepherd, who must have been getting no small ration of grief because his wife was holding up an important civic improvement, stepped in to propose a solution:
If the city would, at its expense, slope the portion of his wife's property that fronted 1st Street, she would drop her lawsuit. By this time Mrs. Parke, the owner of the Highland Villa, had also
sued the city for damages related to the 1st Street cut. She agreed to the compromise, and offered to have the Highland Villa lowered to the new grade of 1st Street at her own expense.

The LA City Attorney was ready to sign off on the compromise as well, but on April 29, 1897, Mrs. Shepherd "suddenly changed her mind and refused to sign any stipulation." Mrs. Parke
resolved her suit against the city by settling out of court in 1898. Work on the cut that began in the fall of 1898 may have been related to that settlement. An October 22, 1898,
LA Times article describes work on the cut commencing at the behest of the owner of the Highland Villa, who is misidentified as Mrs. Shepherd.

This undated photo looks east from the 1st Street cut. In the background I can make out the LA Times building and the bank building on the NE corner of 1st and Spring, but no other
landmarks in that narrow view. The 1894 Sanborn notes a 40-foot vertical bank along the south side of 1st Street between Hill and Olive, but that looks to have been mostly cut down by
the time of this photo. Also, the grade of 1st Street looks to be about level with the first floor of the Highland Villa, which was later left high above 1st and Hill. Consequently, I'd guess
this photo was taken c. 1895-1900:

Seaver Center --

Here's a closeup from an 1899 panoramic photo (compare with similar view six images up). The home at 1 S. Hill Street is gone, and you can see evidence of the 1st Street cut between the
home's former location and the Highland Villa:

Shorpy --

In December 1900, the south side of the 1st Street cut was sloped to reduce the landslides that had been occurring, but no work was done to the north side. A March 1903 LA Times article
described 1st Street between Hill and Olive as a "narrow passageway" in a "half-finished condition," without sidewalks or curbs. The Highland Villa is described as "projecting far out over the
sidewalk line." In 1904, the high dirt promontory at the SW corner of 1st and Hill, the former site of 1 S. Hill Street, was cut down and the dirt used to fill the site for a building on Grand Avenue.

The 1906 Sanborn, with 1st Street at the bottom, shows how the Highland Villa projected out into the 1st Street right-of-way. The lines showing the hill's upper line and foot line are
there but somewhat faint:


This c. 1910 photo looks mostly west and is centered on the Highland Villa. The grading for the Hill Street tunnel north of 1st Street further compromised the Highland Villa's precarious position,
and in June 1910 a large landslide occurred on the Hill Street side. The Highland Villa was condemned shortly thereafter. The north side of the 1st Street cut looks a little unkempt:


LA Times articles in 1912 and 1914 mentioned Mrs. Shepherd's alleged willingness to drop her injunction in exchange for the city excavating and terracing her lot at its expense,
but by this time there were other ideas for 1st Street. There were various tunnel proposals:

LA Times, June 22, 1913

And there was also what was called the "open cut" design:

LA Times, September 5, 1915

A November 1919 LA Times article described how the LA City Attorney believed the city could work on the north side of 1st Street, in spite of Mrs. Shepherd's injunction. According to
the City Attorney, the Street Improvement Act of 1913 permitted any damage to Mrs. Shepherd's property to be "estimated, awarded and assessed to property within the district." This may be
related to the breakthrough that occurred the following year.

Mrs. Shepherd's injunction expired (or was lifted, depending on which article you read) in 1920, and work on the north side of the 1st Street cut between Hill and Olive finally resumed in
February 1921, almost 32 years after Mrs. Shepherd had stopped it in March 1889. This photo ran in the February 27, 1921 LA Times, and looks west down 1st Street toward
Hill Street and the hill above the NW corner of 1st and Hill. There appears to be a streetcar on Hill Street, crossing 1st:


Mrs. Shepherd expired not long after her injunction, in May 1923.

Here are some later views, starting with a 1939 photo of the NW corner of 1st and Hill; the hillside has sloughed onto what's left of the Highland Villa's former perch above the street,
but it's still visible:

This photo looks east down 1st Street, with Hill Street in the lower right corner, c. 1949:

CA State Library --

Looking SW at 1st and Hill from LA City Hall, 1953. The Shepherd home is long gone, but 104 S. Olive, formerly 1 S. Hill, is still there:

CA State Library --

Looking NE from the 1st Street cut, c. 1950:

CA State Library --

This c. 1955 photo, showing the LA County Courthouse under construction, looks to have been taken from almost the same spot as the previous photo:

CA State Library --

Finally, this looks NW at the corner of 1st Street and Hill Street and the completed courthouse, c. 1959:


Last edited by Flyingwedge; May 5, 2015 at 7:35 AM. Reason: last tweak I promise -- really!
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