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Old Posted Jun 20, 2010, 3:04 PM
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GaylordWilshire GaylordWilshire is offline
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Location: NYC
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From the Pyrenees to Hollywood

Militant Angeleno
131 S. Boyle Avenue


Los Encinos State Historic Park


I seem to keep running into actress Sharon Gless. While I knew she was a native Angeleno, with forebears figuring in the history of L.A.--there is a Gless Street on the east side of the river--I wasn't aware of just how illustrious her extended family was in terms of that history. She grew up on Muirfield Road in Hancock Park (in the house her mother, daughter of entertainment lawyer Neil McCarthy, grew up in); nearby in Windsor Square and frequently mentioned in architecture guides is another Gless house, this one designed by Arthur Heineman and built by her great grandmother at 627 S Ardmore before being moved to the southwest corner of Plymouth and 6th in the '30s, where it still stands. (I can find no vintage image of it to post.) Researching the origins of this house led me to Boyle Heights and the discovery of Los Angeles's newest Cultural-Heritage Landmark: yet another Gless house, this one at 131 S. Boyle Avenue, seen at top.


Los Encinos State Historic Park
Simon and Juanita Amestoy Gless--their wedding photograph.

Simon Francois Gless, Sharon's great grandfather, built the Boyle Heights house soon after inheriting the property from his uncle, Gaston Oxarart, who died in 1886. Gless farmed the land for a while; the family retained the property until 1916, when it became part of the Hebrew Shelter Home and Asylum. Included in the legacy from Uncle Gaston was a bonus--the Rancho Los Encinos, which Uncle Gaston had acquired from Eugene Garnier (of the Garnier Block at the Plaza), who had gone bankrupt. Gless married Juanita Amestoy in 1889, and, preferring the Heights of Boyle, sold the ranch to his father-in-law, Domingo Amestoy...later, of course, the ranch became that jewel of the San Fernando Valley, Encino. Anyway, it seems that after Simon died in 1903, Juanita tired of Boyle Heights and commissioned Arthur Heineman to build 627 S Ardmore. She later sold it to department-store magnate John G. Bullock, who a few years later moved it to Windsor Square next door to one he'd just moved from 3200 Wilshire Boulevard (check it out here). By all accounts the Glesses and Amestoys were close, but if one is in a noirish frame of mind while reading the history of the Valley--so fraught with Chandler/Mulholland/Chinatown intrigue--it's hard to shake the idea that the Amestoys might have had ulterior motives in allowing Juanita to marry Simon. Were they after the Encino property all along? It was conveyed to them within months of Juanita and Simon's marriage, and Simon declared bankruptcy about 10 years later. In any case--even if indirectly--he left Juanita enough money to build an architecturally significant house even if she only lived in it a few years.

Interestingly, the Glesses, the Oxararts, and the Amestoys were apparently all French Basques who emigrated first to Argentina, and then, so the story goes, all arrived in Southern California on the same ship.

Last edited by GaylordWilshire; Jul 9, 2013 at 12:41 AM.
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