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The Story of the Sacketts of Hollywood

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Apr 26th, 2015
2015
Apr 26

HOLLYWOOD PIONEERS

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Above: The extended Sackett family in front of the Sackett Hotel, in 1898. From left to right: Betsy Otis, H.D. Sackett‘s aunt; Mrs. Sackett; Lyman Hathaway, cousin of Mary Sackett; William H. Sackett; unknown; Mary Sackett; Zella Sackett, married to George Dunlap; unknown; Lilly ? ; Dora Miller. (LAPL)

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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Horace David Sackett, whose family came to America from England in 1831, was born in Blandford, Massachusetts on December 29, 1843, the son of Leverett and Mary Culver Sackett. When he was eighteen years old, he went to Suffield, Connecticut and started a flourishing general merchandise and farming business that lasted for several years.

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On January 15, 1873, Sackett married Ellen Minerva Lyman (b. July 24, 1848) and became the parents of five children, Mary Mariah (b. July 8, 1875), William (b. June 22, 1876), Warren Lyman (b. August 30, 1882), Zella Myra (b. June 11, 1883), and Emily (b. March 1885).

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Sackett was a squat, spare, busy man with a short beard. He was cheerful and kindly but firm in his convictions. In 1887, with $10,000 in his pocket, he left Connecticut with his family and moved to Los Angeles. There he heard about land in the North Cahuenga Valley being subdivided for business and residential purposes. This new development called Hollywood was without lights, telephones, paved streets or other modern improvements.

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The developer, Harvey Henderson Wilcox and his wife Daeida was looking for men willing to build up the area and attract new residents. Sackett’s daughter Mary recalled that her family was one of the first families in the area. “Mr. Wilcox subdivided his 160-acre ranch and named it Hollywood,” Mary recalled years later. “Both our families settled down there in May, 1888 when I was 12.”

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Each lot was going for a fixed price of $1,000 each. But Wilcox gave Sackett, free of charge, three sixty-five foot lots facing the assigned business area at Cahuenga Avenue and the southwest corner of Prospect (now Hollywood Boulevard), if Sackett made certain improvements before the dummy line (the old steam engine with the open car) reached Wilcox Avenue.

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By 1888, the railroad was functioning, and Sackett built on the corner a three-story hotel building (above) of wood with a mansard roof, consisting of a corner store, and Prospect Avenue lobby and parlor. Behind that was the culinary department. The stairway from the lobby led to the two stories with their eighteen rooms and a bathroom. Behind the hotel was a barn and corral, and surrounding the store and lobby front was a cypress hedge and two-year-old pepper trees planted by Wilcox, which gave the place a very cozy appearance.

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Here the Sacketts ran the first hotel in the Cahuenga Valley and the second general merchandising establishment within the corporate limits of Hollywood. He also kept a few horses for his clientele and to work the blocks east and south of the store, where he had a garden to sell produce in his store.

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He later bought the lot south of the hotel and also two lots facing west on Wilcox Avenue, and south of the two northern lots in the row. Here he ran an overnight and breakfast place for city visitors from the north and the bachelors’ roost for the young single men of the village. At his store, Sackett sold butter and eggs, crackers and cheese, overalls, jumpers, boots and shoes, ribbons and yardage, and canned goods that were then becoming popular.

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Another Hollywood pioneer associated with the hotel was Dr. Edwin O. Palmer, who later wrote a history of the area. Upon his arrival in California, he rented a room and an office for his medical practice.

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Sackett’s daughter, Mary and her siblings, attended the old Temple Street School through grade school but didn’t go to high school because it was downtown, and they couldn’t get there on time. Later, Sackett added another store, where in a corner nook constituted Hollywood’s post office; Mary became Hollywood’s first postmistress, running her practiced eye over the little rack of boxes. For her duties, Mary was paid as high as $5 per month.

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Tragedy hit the Sackett family in 1899 when his son, William died unexpectedly at 23 years of age and was buried at Rosedale, as there would not be a cemetery in Hollywood for another two years.

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Due to competition from the new Hollywood Hotel, built two years earlier at the northwest corner of Prospect and Highland, Sackett closed his hotel in 1905. He sold the property to Henry Gillig, but it remained unoccupied for the next five years except for one store room on the first floor.

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In 1907, Sackett built a six bedroom house on property he had previously bought at what is now 1642 Wilcox Avenue. Later that same year, in the reception hall of their home, Sackett’s daughter Zella married George Dunlap. He was the mayor of Hollywood at the time, and the city’s last as Los Angeles annexed Hollywood in 1910.

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In 1910, J.P. Creque, one of the wealthiest men in Hollywood, bought the former hotel property for $28,000 from the estate of Henry Gillig, who was now deceased. Creque razed the abandoned hotel and erected a fireproof two-story cream brick structure that cost approximately $30,000. The Hollywood National Bank leased a portion of the new building; there were three other stores facing on Prospect. The second floor had offices with wide hallways and tile flooring.

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The J.P. Creque Building being built in 1911 on the site of the Sackett Hotel

at the southwest corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga.

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In 1931, the Creque Building was enlarged by adding two stories; the Art Deco building at 6400-6408 Hollywood Boulevard, is still on the site.

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The Creque Building as it appears today on the site of the Sackett Hotel.

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Now retired from the mercantile business, Sackett devoted himself to the management of his private interests and several properties that he owned. He took an active part in the public affairs of Hollywood and Los Angeles for many years and was a man of ability and worth. He was a staunch democrat and was interested in politics, especially in local matters.

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It was in their Wilcox Avenue home that Horace Sackett died in 1918 and was buried next to his son at Rosedale. In 1929, his wife Ellen followed him in death at the age of eighty from heart disease.

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At the time of Ellen’s death, the area around Hollywood Boulevard and Wilcox was mostly commercial, and land was being bought for business purposes. Mary Sackett was living in the family home, but instead of demolishing the house, she sold the property in 1929 but moved the house to the San Fernando Valley which was mostly residential.

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Remarkably, the old Sackett house is still standing at 10739 Kling Street in North Hollywood. The 1908 residence looks somewhat out of place next to the small bungalow homes built mostly in the 1930s.

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The altered, but original Horace Sackett home, once located at 1642 Wilcox Avenue

in Hollywood, is now at 10739 Kling Street in North Hollywood.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a private residence. DO NOT DISTURB the occupants.

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On Wilcox, a row of storefronts still stands in place of the old Sackett homestead.

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Mary Sackett never married and in her old age claimed that she never touched liquor, tea or coffee. “I’m an old maid and proud of it,” she insisted to a reporter in 1950. “I’ve never worn a bit of make-up, yet I had three proposals. Men have taken me out but usually with a chaperone. I wouldn’t let them kiss me good-night and to this day no man has ever been allowed to put his arm around me.”

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In 1954, at the age of 78, Mary appeared on an episode of the  You Bet Your Life television show with host Groucho Marx and laughingly ruffled the comedians feathers. She asked Groucho to put away his trademark cigar, either lit or unlit, and he grudgingly complied.

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Mary Sackett, 74, spars with comedian Groucho Marx on “You Bet Your Life.”

Click HERE to watch the episode. Mary’s segment begins at 18:45

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When asked if a man might yet come along and sweep her off her feet, Mary replied, “Not a chance. I’m too set in my ways. I don’t want any man cluttering up my house.” When Mary died on January 31, 1969 at age 93 in Rosemead, California, she was the last remaining Sackett. She was buried in the family plot at Rosedale Cemetery.

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The Sackett family grave marker at Rosedale Cemetery.

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Hollywood: Then & Now–Rollin Lane house; now the Magic Castle

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Apr 11th, 2015
2015
Apr 11

HOLLYWOOD: THEN & NOW

Rollin P. Lane house; now The Magic Castle

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7001 FRANKLIN AVENUE, HOLLYWOOD

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The Magic Castle website

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