A while back I got a message from someone telling me about a house in the Point Fermin area that had a famous past. I made a mental note of it, but when I reached the area, I couldn’t find an email, comment of facebook message that said anything of the sort. I did remember something about the color being purple and you don’t get more violet than this bungalow on 40th. I’m a lot braver than I was when I started SPBXB 9 months ago, so I decided to at least knock on the door and ask the question. Lucky for me the homeowner was reading the morning paper by her front window with the door open so all I had to do was call out ‘yoo-hoo’ to catch her attention. She smiled and waved to me and came out to meet me at her front gate. I inquired about the house’s history and she confirmed that this was the house I guessed it was.
The house was built in the 20’s as a dressing room for Mary Pickford who was doing a lot of filming in the area. Mrs. Smith, the homeowner, told me that the house was originally located on Bluff Place near the beach, but that it was moved sometime later. She doesn’t know much more than that and told me that she has been thinking about the story of her home lately so its funny that I should stop by like this. I told her I could help her try and find some information on it so we exchanged phone numbers. I got a call from Mrs. Smith yesterday. She told me it was her daughter who had sent me the note about her mother’s house.
Ayres Castle is the final house on John R. Kielbasa’s ‘Historic San Pedro Homes’ page that I had yet to discover. I don’t know who you are Mr. Kielbasa, but thank you for posting the information, it was like he left easter eggs for me all over town. It’s been a blast finding them and learning their wonderful histories. Here is the story on the Ayres Castle in Mr. Kielbasa’s own words.
“Ayres Castle was built in 1925 by Vern Ayres. It was inspired by the classic Scottish castle. Vern Ayres was a World War I veteran who flew biplanes during the war as a member of the Canadian Royal Flying Corps. He was an early stunt aviator and one the first Alaskan bush pilots. In the early 1920s he was a barn stormer and flew stunts with famous female wing walker, Miss Elfleda. Ayres married Miss Elfleda and they moved to San Pedro in 1925, where they built their castle on the highest peak on Peck Avenue with a spectacular view of the harbor and breakwater. Later, he flew Catalina Flying Boats to Catalina. William Wrigley and Cecil B. DeMille were frequent passengers. The Ayres Castle has been converted to a 6 unit apartment building. Small cannons adorn the center rampart of the castle”
I found this article on Mr. Ayres in a newspaper from Nebraska in 1958.
Once upon a time this house was dubbed Mavar Castle. I saw a picture of it being built at the historical archives and another of it finished with the owner in front of it. It was a News-Pilot original and the caption called it Mavar Castle. It’s a pretty massive building and it’s super fancy. There’s all kinds of interesting details that you just don’t see in Southern California architecture.
I think this might be the only non-school/church building in San Pedro to have latin on the facade. I’m not sure what it means. Moon something is alone? Do we have any latin scholars in the house?
It has a lot of faces on it and a crest too, that’s really cool. The M on the gate kind of brings it all together.
The Atchinson House, built in 1905 by Captain Mike Duffy, is the twin of the Pons House on 7th Street. The houses were moved from Nelson St in the 20’s when the block was cut down for commercial use. Since we’ve recently learned about Sanborn Maps, let’s see what Nelson Street looked like a couple of years after the houses were built.
It’s clear exactly where the twinsies sat on the east side of the block, side by side. Above them, where the court house stands now, is the old 5th Street school.
This house on 17th is called the Widow’s Walk house because of a balcony that isn’t there anymore. Mr. Kielbasa says the house was built in the late 1800’s or 1906, but ZIMAS says it was built in 1920 so I don’t know who to believe. I do know that a sketch of the house is on the original dust jacket cover of Henry P. Silka’s San Pedro: a pictorial history. Here’s a scanned picture from the copy my Mom got me for Christmas.
This is the description of the Muller House on SanPedro.com.
“Originally located on 19th Street, this two-story Colonial Revival house was built in 1899 by a local shipbuilder. It was owned by the Mullers from 1906 to 1963, when they donated it to the San Pedro Bay Historical Society, who refurbished it and now operates it. Furnished as a family home to reflect the style of the 1920’s, it features changing exhibits in its library. Open the first three Sundays of the month, from 1 to 4 PM and by appointment. Admission free. “