John L. Welsh Obituary

Restoration Diary,

Oh, our poor neglected blog! We have moved our restoration efforts upstairs and are currently camping out downstairs. We are sleeping on the pull out sofa bed and have turned the dining room table into a make shift closet, piled high with clothes. Everything is in such a disarray. I can’t find anything that I may be looking for, including the time to post on the blog.

I am also helping co-ordinate the remodel of a very cute late 1920′s Spanish style bungalow.

I know I often complain of feeling “burnt out and SO over” the restoration of our house, but there are things that still get me excited. I love that there always seems to be something left to discover or another surprise waiting to be revealed.

Yesterday, I recieved an email from someone living in our neighborhood who provided additional information about the the John Welsh family, the family who built our home. Not only did I have complete house envy when I saw pictures our neighbor’s home, but I learned that John Welsh had another daughter! I hadn’t turned up any information about her in my research. It seems that this other daughter has quite a story which I will share once I learn more.

I was also forwarded John Welsh’s obituary from May 30, 1932:

Welsh. May 30. John L. Welsh, beloved husband of Katherine Welsh; father of Mrs. Don F. Catudal and Mrs. Walter Hempel. Funeral Wednesday, 8:45 a.m., from the Frank D. Weber Mortuary. Mass at Holy Name Church at 9:30 a.m.

I want to say thank you to our neighbor, Danny, who found this information about the Welsh family. I am so excited!

Comments { 1 } July 27, 2007

Our House In The 1940s

We get to see wedding photos taken at our house

Restoration Diary,

Photo of our house in the 1940's
Photo of our house in the 1940′s

Mrs. O. sent us some wonderful old photos of our house. She didn’t include a date but I am guessing they were taken in the mid to late 1940s. The front porch was enclosed with glass window panes. Several houses in our area still have their front porches enclosed in this fashion. I have to confess that I like the way it looks. It reminds me of a greenhouse.

After I first met Mrs. O. a year ago last spring, we shared a phone conversation in which she asked if the “little picket fence” was still outside the upstairs bedroom window? That had been Mrs. O’s bedroom when she lived in the house. I got excited because there is no “little fence” now but I had seen a few on houses in our area. I couldn’t exactly picture how it would have looked and wondered if it was an original feature of the house or something added later? After seeing these pictures I am convinced it was original to the house because it matches the porch railing in style and proportion.

Mrs. O. on her wedding day coming down the front steps of our house
Mrs. O. on her wedding day coming down the front steps of our house

This photo clearly shows the “little picket fence” outside the upstairs bedroom window. The house had been painted white but did not yet have asbestos shingle siding. It also shows more detail of how the front porch was enclosed. That is Mrs. O. coming down the front steps on her wedding day!

Mr. and Mrs. O.
Mr. and Mrs. O.

This is a photo of Mr. and Mrs. O taken on their wedding day in our front yard. She wrote on the back of the photo that the little flower girl lived in the apartments across the street. You can also catch a glimpse of Mrs. O’s dog in the lower right hand corner.

The little bungalow and palm trees in the background are no longer there. The little bungalow has either been torn down and replaced or altered beyond all recognition by an unattractive peach and cream stucco style track house.

Comments { 11 } July 6, 2005

Contact With The Original Family

Restoration Diary,

It has been a very exciting week for us. Through our website we were contactd by the great granddaughter of John L. Welsh, the man who built our house.

Spending so much time restoring the house and peeling through all the layers to learn about it’s history, I thought a lot about how the house was when it was originally built. It was natural that this would develop into a curiousity about the family who lived in this house 92 years ago. Who were they and what were they like? What happened to them after they sold the house?

Of course, we would LOVE to see some old pictures of the house and the family. Sometimes I hope that maybe the Welsh family or John L. Welsh himself are looking down at us and glad that we are working so hard to restore the house.

I think that a house is more than a place to live. To me a house is about family roots, beginnings and endings, a context for our lives.

Comments { 5 } October 9, 2004

Surprise in the Mail

Restoration Diary,

We received an Easter greeting from Mrs. O’Connor. She is the daughter of the Santos, the second family to own our house. We sent her a quick note thanking her and updating her on the work we are doing on the house. Today.s mail brought the sweetest letter from her. She is such a lovely woman. I’ll post some of the letter here:

Dear Heather,

I was glad to hear from you, I hope these few lines find you and your husband in very good health, in company of your two corgis.

We all here are fine. I wanted to tell you first of all about the Oil Rights you have on that land (my father way back 55 years ago used to receive $50 a month for oil rights). You can call me any time, I will tell you more about it. As soon as I get copies of the old photos I will send you some. You will have to visit me and my family one of these days and I will show you a lot of pictures of the house and of course us with it.

That house has a lot of good memories I will never forget, they were the best years of my life and I loved that house. My mother and father, two brothers and I had a lot of good times. Even though there was a war on, those times will never be forgotten.

It feels good to know that there was so much love and a happy family living in our house.

Comments { 2 } April 21, 2004

Second Owners Drop By

A blast from our house’s past

Restoration Diary,

I was working in the yard today when I was surprised by the daughter of the Santos, the second owners of our house. I was thrilled to meet her, her son, son-in-law, daughter and granddaughter. They had come from a restaurant in the area and she had asked them to drive by the house.

All of her childhood memories are wrapped up in this house. She lived in the house until she was married. That fact was interesting to learn because I had been told by neighbors that the Santos had rented out the house and never lived here. She shared a few amusing stories about her childhood, her family and the neighborhood.

She thought her family had purchased the house in the 1940′s. She recalled that this area was considered one of the elite neighborhoods in Los Angeles during that era. She seemed saddened by the current state of this area and not entirely convinced when I told her that things were getting better and that people were buying these old homes to restore them.

She told me that when she was young the house was painted white and that later her father put on the asbestos siding. I just smiled. Her family had enclosed the front porch with glass.


Comments { 1 } February 28, 2004

Racial Covenant

Banning people of from living in the neighborhood because of the color of their skin

Restoration Diary,

“Whereas, we the undersigned, are the owners of the following described lots and parcels of lands in the Charles Victor Hall Tract of land, as per Map Book 26 at page 65 of Miscellaneous Records of Los Angeles County, California, and whereas, we the undersigned, are desirous of prohibiting the use, or occupancy and possession of the lots and parcels of lands of the said Chas. Victor Hall Tract as aforesaid, by any person or persons other than of Caucasian or white race.
- August 22, 1924”

520 signatures were signed in agreement. J. L. Welsh, the man who built our home, was one of 20 who personally appeared before the notary public as the document was signed and notarized. The Declarations of Restrictions was to be in effect until January 1, 2023.

In its heyday, between 1900 and around 1920, West Adams was a center of fine living for Los Angeles and became a district of architect-designed mansions and charming bungalows. Residents included an oil magnate, a millionaire wine maker, and socialites as well as lawyers, doctors, and businessmen who filled in the smaller streets. Architects Charles and Henry Greene, Frank M. Tyler, and Alfred and Arthur Heineman built homes for clients living in West Adams. In 1948 racial covenants were outlawed and by the 1960′s West Adams was primarily made up of people who were “other than of Caucasian or white race.”

The idea that my husband who is Asian American could not have owned our home is very troubling to me. David is less bothered by the racial covenant. I asked him why and he said because it was a different time.

Comments { 1 } December 2, 2003

The Body-Sized Hole

Why is there a huge hole underneath our house?

Restoration Diary,

Not a photo of the actual hole underneath our house, but this is the way it appears in my imagination.

Our home inspection turned up many things, none of them good, but the strangest discovery was, to quote my husband, “a body-sized hole” in the crawl space underneath the house. I never actually saw the hole but made my husband describe it to me several times in detail. The hole was as wide as a man’s shoulders and at least 6 feet deep. How did David know it was that deep? Because the building inspector crawled over to the hole and poked a long stick into it. They didn’t discover a body, just some discarded rubble.

All old houses hold their mysteries but a body-sized hole wasn’t exactly one we wanted to know more about. Lying in bed that night, David and I speculated why anyone would dig a big hole underneath their house? Being a secret fan of true-crime murder novels (a guilty pleasure) and Court TV’s Forensic Files (a morbid fascination), all kinds of wild thoughts sprang to mind. The home’s present owner, Mr. Jolly, said he inherited the house from his grandmother and his uncle. Did we really know what happened to them? Plus, who has the last name of Jolly anyway? Maybe it was an alias or an attempt to hide a darker side? What if there were bodies buried under the house?


Comments { 2 } October 5, 2003

John L. Welsh Descendants

Learning more about the family who built our home

Restoration Diary,

Ida K. Welsh was born on August 12, 1872, in Pennsylvania. That would actually make her 4 years older than what she reported to the census takers in 1920. She died on May 1, 1962, in Los Angeles. Her maiden name was Boll and the “K” in her middle name may have stood for Kuhler, her mother’s maiden name.

John’s Daughter and Son-in-law
Upon further research I’ve discovered that John L. Welsh’s son-in-law Don Catudal, of 91345 Mission Hills, Los Angeles, CA, born on May 26, 1896, died in November of 1976. John and Ida’s daughter, Mary “Magdalen” Welsh Catudal was born on December 2, 1897. She died on December 14, 1957 at 60 years of age.

John’s Grandsons
Ray Catudal died in September of 1986. His birth date is listed as December 30, 1925. Roy F. Catudal died on November 9, 2002, just two months after we closed escrow on the house. His last residence was listed as 96051 Lakehead, Shasta, CA. The odd thing is his birth date is listed as October 6, 1924. In the 1930 Census both boys were listed as age 5 so I had assumed they were twins. Being born 14 months apart may have felt almost like being twins? Another interesting fact is that their social security numbers were 1 digit apart so they were obviously applied for at the same time.

It saddens me a little to discover that all the people who first lived in our house have passed on, along with their memories.

Comments { 5 } October 3, 2003

John L. Welsh and Family

Restoration Diary,

Something about living in this old, neglected house makes me wonder about who lived here before me? What were they like? Were their years here happy ones? Maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of HGTV’s “If These Walls Could Talk”?

Their original building permit was applied for by Henry Gatz, who is also listed as contractor, on November 23, 1911. The house was completed in 1912. The entire cost of the building is listed as $1950, about what we pay for our mortgage every month. The home was built for John L. Welsh. He lived on our street at 2938 Hobart Blvd at the time this house was being built. I wonder if the 2938 Hobart house was an earlier home that John Welsh had built or if the family was renting?

In 1916, a sleeping porch was added by extending the present dormer on the rear of the house. That work was done by H. V. Wright of 3933 S. Hill St. John L. Welsh applied for a permit to build a private garage with a dirt floor and a paper roof in April of 1919. He is listed as the contractor and architect. The garage is no longer standing so we can’t see his handiwork.

Those are the facts but they don’t shed much light on the personalities of our house’s original family. I can get a sense of their preferences or at least the prevailing tastes of their day by peeling through layers of old paint and wallpaper to the home’s original color palette. They chose fairly dark, masculine colors: a dark orange-brown color that looks like the spice cinnamon for the living and dining room walls with a dark, dark brown-black mission stain on the douglas fir woodwork. The den was a medium orange, terra cotta color with a similarly colored wallpaper ceiling that has hand painted silver designs on it. It’s still intact but badly damaged and more than likely unsalvageable. The kitchen, in 1912 a woman’s domain, was a more feminine salmon-pink color – at least on the ceiling.

I get the feeling of a strong male presence having lived and left his mark in this house. Maybe because John L. Welsh’s name was the only one listed on the paperwork we received when we purchased the house, that’s who captured my imagination? I wonder if he would have approved of the choices we are making?


Comments { 4 } September 22, 2003