For sure, there is a ton of questions I should have asked. But at age 16, I hadn’t honed my interviewing skills whatsoever. Nor did I take notes as I’m sure Mrs. Freeman shared with me a lot more information than I remember now. Harriet Freeman lived into her 90’s, passing away in 1986.
This is a scan from the Sunday November 17, 1985 San Diego Union article written by Kay Kaiser.
A site I remember exploring with my mom and dad in 1966 or 1967. La Jolla was a favorite place for us to explore back then. Still is.
To view larger version of any image or scanned text, just click on it.
Built in 1953 as the Big Donut Drive In this Los Angeles landmark is an example of programatic/thematicÂ architecture that was once a rage in Southern California. An architecture related to roadside convenience for freeway laden modern society. There’s a great bookÂ by Jim Heimann and Rip Geoges about this type of architecture titled California Crazy – Roadside Vernacular Architecture. Chronicling the times when architecture was allowed to be distinctive and fun.
It was a building inspired by a vision of the 21st century depicted in an 1888 novel. Then 94 years later was depicted in a film vision of the 21st century.
Image: Creative Commons
The street view doesn’t quite reveal the characteristics of a future vision. The building’s facade is clearly an Italian Rennaissance Revial, Romanesque Revival design of its time (1894).
Image: Creative Commons
You might walk by without ever knowing what lies beyond the arched entry.
Image: Creative Commons
But the inside – that’s another story. It was the shared dream of two men. Lewis Bradbury who had a specific philosophy and ideas of what he wanted built. And the young man whom Bradbury met – they shared that philosophy and those ideas. He was George Herbert Wyman – who wasn’t even an architect, but draftsman by trade. Their common vision stemmed from a futuristic novel called Looking Backward 1887 – 2000 by George Herbert Wyman.
Image: Creative Commons
Bellamy’s futuristic structures in Looking Backward were described as “vast halls filled with light.” The Bradbury building has a glass roof which baths the entire central portion of the interior in daylight. The railings, balconies and supporting columns are made of iron. The resulting effect is a suspended, floating illusion of interior elements.
It stands as one of the most distinctive and remarkable interiors of any office building ever constructed.
Images: Creative Commons
The Bradbury interiors inspired by a Utiopian future depicted in Looking Backward by Edward Belamy.
The building not only attracted the producers of Blade Runner. There have been dozens of other Film, Television, and Commercial productions that have used the Bradbury Building as a set.
Image: Dan Soderberg
Louis Bradbury died before his building was complete. His dedication to creating his lasting legacy notwithstanding, even he likely wouldn’t dare imagine how the building would continue to inspire and fascinate well into the 21st century.
The Bradbury Building is located on Broadway at 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA
Girard’s was located on the third floor of the building atÂ at 65 Ellis Street occupied on lower levels by the historic John’s Grill, established in 1908.Â Image Source: cable-car-guy.com. The only trace of Girard’s today are the retail-sold salad dressings.
1939 ad from the Golden Gate International Exposition Guidebook.
Thursday June 8, 1939. “Downtown with Zella Reilly. Bought drapes and rods for the living room. Lunch at Girards.”
“A drink at the Sky Room. Lots of window shopping. Nite: Sam and I walked in the the park.”
Friday June 9, 1939 “Got the drapes hung. Nite: met Marc, Bessie, and Streets at the Blue Fox Room for a couple of drinks. Then to see Ice Follies at Winterland. Swell show! After to Jacopetti’s, Cafe Diablo’s, and then home at 12:30. Rene over to see Jeanne.”
Saturday June 10, 1939. “Quiet day. Home mostly. Sam worked all day. Picked him up at 5:30. Home for dinner. Nite: read and to bed early. Fog.”
Sunday June 11, 1939. “Sam and I walked to the beach in the A.M. Seal Rocks were covered with seals. Marc, Palmer, Murphy, Doni over. We went to Doc’s Ranch at Walnut Creek. Stoped at Palmer’s place in Alameda. Got cat. Hot in the country. Fog in our distance.”
I tried digging for information about Doc’s Ranch. Not much there. Here’s a note from the Contra Costa County Historical Society:
Monday June 12, 1939. “M. stayed here last night. Lazy day. Felt the cold. Took kitten and Bijou to meet Jeanne after school. Little Jimmy called up – also F. this afternoon, surprise. Picked up Sam at 5. Bed early.”
Tuesday June 13, 1939. “Lovely afternoon. Nice walk in the park. Quiet evening.”
“Saw the baby Buffalo. Foggy. Nite: to the library. Half day at school for Jeanne. Took Sam down to do work at the plant. Home 12:30”
Thursday June 15, 1939. “Rather sleepy this A.M. Lazy day but cooked nice dinner. Tony and Phil over in early evening – slight rain tonite. Sam and I up late drinking Tom Collins.”
Â An ongoing series illustrating the diary of my grandmother Helen Hussey. Current entries: The San Francisco Sojourn 1939-1940.
Wednesday April 5, 1939. “Jeanne and I to the RKO Golden Gate to see Rogers + Astaire in the Castle picture.”Â The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), would be their final RKO film together, although they would reunite in 1949 for MGM‘s The Barkleys of Broadway. The film was unique for Astaire and Rogers.Â The characters in it are more realistic than usual in an Astaire-Rogers film, it is the only Astaire-Rogers musical biography, the only one of their musicals with a tragic ending, and the only one in which Astaire’s character dies.
The RKO Golden Gate Theater.
Built in 1920, the Golden Gate Theatre was a movie theater for over 50 years until it closed in the 1970â€™s. By the time it was shuttered, the Golden Gate Theatre had already been converted into a two screen theater in the 1960â€™s, with the balcony theatre known as the Penthouse Theatre. With the twinning it suffered little permanent damage as it was restored to a single auditorium by the Shorenstein Hayes Nederlander group.
When it was finally renovated and reopened in 1979 into a performing arts center, the original detail and look of the theater was restored as well. Although the neighborhood has remained a little seedy, the theater is still very grand, with a marvelous Art Deco vertical sign that is nearly 4 stories high. Today, the Golden Gate Theatre is still a premier venue for travelling broadway shows and a visual journey into San Franciscoâ€™s gilded past. Contributed by Juan-Miguel Gallegos. Cinema Treasures. org
“Afternoon walk in the park. Jose over and took Jeanne for Tea at Japanese Tea Garden. Nite: Took Sam to the library. Wrote to Irene. It was a beautiful day.”
Mom took me for my first trip to San Francisco in 1967. I remember she made a point of visiting the Japanese Tea Garden. One other note.Â Sam Hussey never drove; Helen did all the driving.
Friday April 9, 1939. “Jeanne and I to the fair. We won telephone calls. Jeanne phoned Mercedes, but not home. I called Irene + talked to her. We went to listen to the marimba. Home about Ten P.M.”
Friday April 8, 1939. “Met Sam and we all went to the Fair. Saw many exhibits. Drank at Happy Valley. Saw Carlos and met most of the marimba players. Back to Izzy’s-fiesta, etc. Got a ride home with the Italians. Hazy ending to the day.”
Sunday April 9, 1939. “Easter Sunday. Went to Oakland for dinner with Gen and Jess. Drove to Berkeley and Alameda. Saw an interesting big house, also an old home on Central Avenue. Home about 6:30” Certainly similar interests through the generations in this family!
I’m not sure what my family’s connection with the house is. Whether it belonged to family or family friends. But Helen Martin was there in 1923 to take this picture for her scrapbook.
Surprisingly the house is still there with new infill all around. A large apartment built right up to the side.
The other building seen in the historic photo however are gone.
An ongoing series illustrating the diary of my grandmother Helen Hussey. Current entries: The San Francisco Sojourn 1939-1940.Â
Helen in Santa Rosa where she grew up. This photo was taken in 1923. Helen was then married to Val Martin (Jeanne’s father); they lived at 913 Cherry Street, Santa Rosa.Â Later that year they moved to Southern California to work in the film industry. Mom was born Jeanne Delano Martin on September 22, 1923 in Long Beach, CA.
Today Cherry Street is a Historic District in Santa Rosa.
“Also saw Healdsburg, Guernville, and Armstrong woods. It was a beautiful day, and the country was green and luscious. Arrived home in San Francisco about 5:30.”
Monday April 3, 1939. “First day of Jeanne’s vacation–slept until 8. At 1 P.M. we walked to the beach. Took the tram home. Went shopping on Clement Street. It was a foggy day.”
Tuesday April 4, 1939. “A lovely day and night. Jeanne and I went to the Fair. Went to the phone exhibit and saw kids there from Los Angeles.”
“Then went to El Salvidor. We met boys from Guatemala.”
“To Brazil for coffee. We were introduced to various people. Carlos and Jose drove us home.”
Thursday March 16, 1939 “Walked to the beach and back. Took a nap. Then met Jeanne after school and rode to the beach and got cones. Came back and shopped and had a good dinner. Sam called on E. Hurt, the Russian artist. It was very hot today.”
Monday March 20, 1939 “It was a grand day of interest. I went to The Fair alone. Saw Eleanor Roosevelt arrive. In the afternoon I heard her speak–most charming. Went to several exhibits. El Salvidor-coffee and marimbas. To Greenwich Village. Home about 9.
Thursday March 23, 1939 “Sam came home in the afternoon. Feeling sick. He went to bed early. Nite: I went to Tony’s, and with eight women went to dinner at Vagabond House. Then to the Curran Theater to see Irene Rich in ‘Broom for the Bride.’ Enjoyed it.”
A page from Mom’s crumbling scrapbook. I’m in the process of moving photos from it to archival pages. She indicates the Brazil Pavilion is “the best place in the fair” (lower right). Brazilian flag upper left. A partially used ticket book from 1940, And the El Salvador Pavilion napkin. And Duke. I don’t know what happened to him. Maybe got tossed after she got married.
Saturday March 25, 1939 “Sam feeling much better. The Doctor was here. Says he can get up Monday. Then go to work on Tuesday. Today was Rainy. Jeanne went to the fair.”
“Best Place in The Fair.” The photo caption reads “Pavilion of the United States of Brazil. It occupies 10,000 of its 25,000 square feet of the ground. The products displayed are representative of the country’s ever increasing potentiality and includes coffee, rubber, matte, vegetables fibers and oils, timbÃ³, guaranÃ¡, etc. and manufactured products. Visit the CAFE BRAZIL with its tropical patio and try a cup of PURE Brazilian coffee.”
A name that begins to appear in Helen’s diary is Carlos. He became a constant friend in both San Francisco and Los Angeles for years to come. Apparently they met at the Brazil Pavilion where he sang.Â The Photo shows him in the rotunda ofÂ that pavilion–silhouette ofÂ The Exposition Tower “Spire to the Sun” in the background.
The already mentioned Palace of Fine and Decorative Arts
Sunday March 12, 1939 “Jeanne, Sam, and I with Paul, Ruth Marc + Nancy to the Fair. Marc, Ruth, + Nancy left early but we stayed”
The Palace of Fine and Decorative Arts is one of the few surviving buildings from The Fair. This is a Historic American Buildings Survey photo done in 2003.
The building predated the fair itself, and was constructed inÂ 1938 as an aircraft hangar for Pan American World Airways and their trans-Pacific Clipper services. It was later modified for the 1939-40 Golden Gate International Exposition.
The building retains itsÂ George W. Kelham and William Peyton Day designed Art Deco Streamline Moderne features.
The interior was adapted for the exposition by adding curving temporary plaster walls to house a $20 million collection of artwork, designed by Dorothy Wright Liebes and Shepard Vogelsang. The space was extensively subdivided into small galleries.
Dorothy Wright Liebes worked closely with Frank Lloyd Wright. She talks about her relationship with the Wrights in her papers.
“After The Fair we had dinner in Chinatown. Then the car went blewey. Stuck for a long time. Paul stayed over again.”
Monday March 13, 1939 “Didn’t get up until after 11 a.m. The car started OK. Later Jeanne and I rode through the Presidio. Shopped. Then home to clean up the mess. To bed early.”