Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Kaspare Cohn Hospital and the Mt. Sinai Hospital and Clinic, Part Five

Editor's Note:  We come to the end of this very interesting and informative post by Boyle Heights Historical Society Advisory Board member Rudy Martinez on the eastside origins of one of the signal medical care facilities in Los Angeles, including a fascinating politicized issue over a fresco mural at the Mount Sinai Home for the Chronic Invalids, the later history of that institution in Boyle Heights and its 1950s move and merger, two decades later, with Cedars of Lebanon to create today's Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.  Thanks to Rudy for his continuing excellent work in sharing the diverse history of Boyle Heights and please check back for future posts.

In 1937, Myer Shaffer, an up-and-coming 23-year-old Jewish muralist, occasional art columnist, and a Boyle Heights resident, was commissioned by the Federal Arts Project, a New Deal program during the Great Depression, to paint a mural, his second for the project, in the auditorium of the Mount Sinai Home for the Chronic Invalids. Shaffer studied fresco painting in 1932 under famed muralist, David Alfaro Siqueiros at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. An ardent Communist, Siqueiros painted in the aesthetics of socialist realism, a style that greatly influenced Shaffer. That same year, Shaffer also joined other Siqueiros proteges from the art institute as a member of the “Bloc of Painters” collective who assisted Siqueiros with all three of the seminal murals he would paint in Los Angeles in 1932.  These included "Street Meeting" at the Chouinard Institute; "Portrait of Mexico Today" at a private residence in Pacific Palisades; and his acclaimed America Tropical, a politically charged work done for the summer Olympic Games held in Los Angeles on the side of a building on Olvera Street that was whitewashed because it did not celebrate the United States.  The mural, however, was restored and has been available for public viewing at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Park.   

In 1936, Shaffer completed a provocative mural entitled "The Social Aspects of Tuberculosis" at the Los Angeles Tuberculosis Sanatorium, widely known today as the City of Hope, in Duarte. In July of the following year, Shaffer completed his much larger, 400 square foot fresco for the Mount Sinai facility called "The Elder in Relation to Society."  In an interview that year with the Hollywood Citizen News, the artist said the fresco’s biblical figures of the youthful warrior Judas Maccabee and of David, the elder, Judean king, demonstrated that “age does not incapacitate.” The fresco also included a small, clearly multiracial group of people, plus a single figure representing death, in the upper portion of the painting. It might suggest Shaffer wanted to acknowledge the shared mortality of all human life, as well as the reality of a multi-ethnic society, as exemplified in Boyle Heights, at a time when American culture mostly emphasized a largely white, homogenous self-image. Further revealing his attitude about his work, Shaffer wrote in an art column two months later that, “a fallacy in numerous murals is the disregard of the truth for historic events. An example of this is the Spanish colonization of the west. None show the failure of the Spanish settlements.” It seems a fresco with a racially inclusive statement, and the image of a leader of a Jewish-led revolt against their oppressors, should not have been a surprise coming from this Siqueiros-influenced Boyle Heights artist.  

Hollywood Citizen-News, 16 July 1937.

But sometime in early 1938, Shaffer’s fresco, like America Tropical, was completely painted over with no official explanation ever given by the Mount Sinai administrators. They, too, might have been expecting a more city-friendly booster image, but the fresco’s progressive statement was actually more in line with many of the hospital’s early, working-class, supporters. These latter, however, were not like the growing class of affluent patrons, and their Hollywood connections, that were now dominating the fundraising activities for the Mount Sinai Home, especially during the depression years. According to the Los Angeles Examiner of March 11, 1938, Shaffer sued Mount Sinai for painting over his work and damaging his artistic reputation, although it’s uncertain if the dispute was ever resolved. 

Moreover, Shaffer's "The Social Aspects of Tuberculosis", deemed to be too Communist, was also whitewashed the same year by the Los Angeles Tuberculosis Sanatorium. The artist died in 1973 and, although he was a significant Works Progress Administration (known as the WPA) figure during a period of radical, leftist public art in Depression-era Los Angeles, Shaffer’s legacy, like his artwork, has been eradicated from the city’s cultural history, where he is hardly known or mentioned today except for an informative 2010 essay about his work by art historian, Sarah Schrank.

Los Angeles Herald, 11 March 1938.

The closing and relocation of the Kaspare Cohn Hospital in 1930 essentially left the Mount Sinai Home for the Chronic Invalids in the role of caretakers of public health for the Boyle Heights area. But the Belvedere neighborhood facility was mostly for long-term convalescence care and rehabilitation. By the end of the decade, with admissions already at full capacity, its administrative board decided to step-up its fundraising efforts in order to double the size of the 50-bed facility. More significantly, there was also the will to build a much-needed, comprehensive outpatient clinic in the heart of Boyle Heights. To that end, several meetings took place at the Folke Shul on Soto Street with delegates from various Jewish-aid organizations attending to form a coalition to help establish an affordable and easily accessible clinic for local residents.  

Money was raised for the proposed annex and community clinic, as usual, with the stalwart support of the local community, as well as the now-common celebrity-filled events, compliments of film studio heads, like charity balls, concerts, and baseball games.  There were, though, a few new wrinkles, such as a bathing beauty contest, a raffle for a 1938 Master Chevrolet (showcased in front of the National Theater on Brooklyn Avenue), and a picnic bazaar on the grounds of the Mt. Sinai Home, hosted by popular comedian Milton Berle. 

B'nai B'rith Messenger, 26 August 1938.

In January of 1940, the new annex was opened on the campus of what was now officially called the Mount Sinai Hospital, bringing the total number of beds from 50 to 102. At the same time, after the Conference of Jewish Organizations bought the property at the corner of Breed Street and Michigan Avenue from the Catholic Church the year before, the Mount Sinai outpatient clinic was already under construction. 

The street-packed opening dedication ceremonies for the newly built, two-story Mount Sinai Medical Clinic was held on November 8, 1940. Located at 207 North Breed Street, at the end of the block from the Breed Street Shul, the clinic’s mission was described by the B’nai B’rith Messenger, the local Jewish newspaper, as a “non-sectarian institution devoted to the service of the needy sick without regard for race, creed, or color.”  This signified the progressive principles of the surrounding community that helped establish the full-service free clinic for all Boyle Heights residents. By 1950, the local press would refer to the eastside-based Mount Sinai organization as “an institution with heart.”

B'nai B'rith Messenger, 8 November 1940.

 As the second charity institution in the Boyle Heights area, Mount Sinai benefited from ongoing appeals over the next two decades for financial support along with the occasional celebrity sighting, such as a 1952 visit by comedian Jack Benny.  But in the postwar years, the Jewish community of Boyle Heights started to disperse to the suburbs west of downtown Los Angeles and to the less urban and developed areas of the San Fernando Valley. It was only a matter of time before the Mount Sinai medical institutions would make the move as well.

In 1950, the Emma and Hyman Levine Foundation purchased property near the intersection of Beverly and San Vicente boulevards on the west side and donated the parcel for the construction of the new Mount Sinai Hospital, with the foundation’s contract mandating that the facility should remain affordable, based on “one’s ability to pay what they can.” Not yet looking like the affluent area of today, the surrounding property was home to a dozen oil derricks, an Arden Farms Dairy and its grazing cows, and a small children’s amusement and pony ride park.  

B'nai B'rith Messenger, 13 June 1952.

Financed totally by public subscriptions, the new, concrete-steel-and-glass, eight-story, 253 bed, Mount Sinai Hospital opened in June 1955 at 8712 Beverly Boulevard. The Mount Sinai medical facilities were now three entities, the long-term care hospital on Bonnie Beach Place, the Boyle Heights clinic on Breed Street, and their new, state-of-the-art facility.

Consolidation of the trio began in 1960 with the closure of the Mount Sinai Clinic on Breed Street, as a new clinic was now operating at the westside hospital. The former clinic building is still standing and has been in continuous use by various health and social-welfare agencies that assist the now predominantly Latinx residents of Boyle Heights. The rehabilitation hospital on Bonnie Beach Place closed in 1966, transferring the last 66 patients to other health-care facilities. As late as 1983, the building was occupied by the Chicana Service Action Center, a non-profit job training and placement agency for women in the eastside. The former hospital building is gone now, and since 2009, has been the site of the William R. Anton Elementary School.

B'nai B'rith Messenger, 12 August 1966.

One final act of consolidation remained to be played out, and that took place in 1976. After several years of negotiations, the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital on Fountain Avenue, formerly the Kaspare Cohn Hospital on Whittier Boulevard, (1910-1930), and the Mount Sinai Hospital, formerly the Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital on Bonnie Beach Place (1920-1966) and its auxiliary clinic on Breed Street (1940-1960) officially merged at the Beverly Boulevard location. Combining their names, the single facility was officially named Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The merger also served as a conclusion to a journey that was initiated with the founding of both hospitals, over one hundred years ago, in East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights, where both institutions received sustaining support during the critical early years of their existence.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Kaspare Cohn Hospital and the Mt. Sinai Hospital and Clinic, Part Four

Editor's note:  Sorry for the delay in getting this fourth part of this great post by Boyle Heights Historical Society Advisory Board member Rudy Martinez published.  This part involves the later ownership of the former Kaspare Cohn Hospital property and introduces us to the early history of Mt. Sinai Hospital.  The fifth and final part of the post will, hopefully, be issued next week, bringing a close to this remarkable history.

In 1933, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Boyle Heights-based Los Angeles Baptist Theological Seminary (LABTS) agreed to purchase the former Kaspare Cohn Hospital building for their growing seminary school. Established in 1927, the seminary had been sharing limited space at the Calvary Baptist Church at Second and St. Louis streets. After less than a decade, however, the LABTS moved back to Boyle Heights to take up residence in 1942 at their newly built headquarters at 2115 E. 6th Street, across from Hollenbeck Park. Two decades later and outgrowing their Boyle Heights facility, the seminary relocated to a 27-acre campus in Placerita Canyon in what is now Santa Clarita. Known today as Master’s University, the school is recognized as one of the largest Christian liberal arts colleges in the nation.

The Whittier Boulevard parcel was purchased by the County of Los Angeles in 1938 and, nine years later, Laguna Park was finally established on the property that was once occupied by a charity Jewish hospital, an experimental cancer clinic, and a Baptist seminary school over more than three decades. As described earlier, the park, badly needed for the eastside, was renamed Ruben Salazar Park in September 1970, in honor of the journalist, columnist, and television news station manager who was struck and killed by a fired tear gas canister during the Chicano Moratorium protest the prior month.

Los Angeles Times, 4 June 1933.

Just as some of the affluent mid-city Jewish families stepped up to support the founding of the Kaspare Cohn Hospital in 1902, the Jewish working class of Boyle Heights also organized local community support to establish another eastside medical institution in 1918. Named the Mount Sinai Hospital (after undergoing several name changes) it moved to the westside in the late 1950s and then merged in 1976 with another former eastside medical facility, Hollywood's Cedars of Lebanon Hospital (formerly the Kaspare Cohn Hospital, to form today’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

In traditional Jewish communities, the sick and ailing poor are often assisted with moral and material support by the Bikur Cholim Society, with the Hebrew bikur cholim translated to "visiting the sick." During the flu pandemic of 1918, Russian-born Los Angeles mortuary owner and Jewish community leader Charles Groman began operating the Bikur Cholim sanatorium in a small, two-room bungalow, with one flu-stricken patient. 

B'nai B'rith Messenger, 25 July 1919.  From the archives of that paper.

But the Bikur Cholim Society hoped to provide its charity services to the indigent sick and terminally ill in a more spacious dwelling. In 1919, the organization hosted its “first annual picnic,” including games, refreshments, and dancing to a jazz orchestra, on the grounds of the Selig Zoo Park, a combination public zoo and film studio in Lincoln Heights. An apparent success, Bikur Cholim relocated in 1920 to a two-story, nine-room frame house on five-and-one-half acres at 831 N. Bonnie Beach Place. Located on an incline in the northern hills of East Los Angeles, which was then called, Belvedere, it was just below the hilltop boundary of City Terrace. The change also brought a new name to the hospice—the Mount Sinai Home for the Incurables. 

Unlike the support for the Kaspare Cohn Hospital, with its generally more subdued appeals to affluent supporters, the smaller, community-based Mount Sinai hospital was supported with more fervent, public pleas to the working-class residents in the Boyle Heights area. It was an ongoing effort as property taxes needed to be paid and the facility maintained and with the 15 beds usually filled, funds were needed for building modifications, along with more beds, linen, and staff. 

Mt. Sinai Home for the Incurables from the White Plague in L.A. website.

Although benefiting from steady support from orthodox institutions like the Breed Street Shul, Mt. Sinai also garnered support from women’s auxiliary groups, which were especially effective fundraisers, hosting luncheons, dances, Russian tea parties, raffles, and bake sales. The community’s determined effort paid off in 1925 when the facility—already caring for about 30 patients—was licensed by the Los Angeles Public Welfare Commission and commended for its good work. Nevertheless, the growing need for the hospital to offer its patients more wide-ranging medical services made the current building inadequate. The idea for an ambitious campaign to replace the two-story framed house with a new medical facility by the end of 1926 was now the center of the society's plans. Beginning in 1925, a year-long blitz of fundraisers took place, such as benefit dances at the Ocean Park Auditorium, picnics at the Selig/Luna Park Zoo, and shows at the Orpheum, featuring vaudeville stars, “juvenile danseuses” violinists, and “golden-tongued orators.”   

Since 1920, much of the communal support was organized and supported by an array of Boyle Heights-based mutual-aid and fraternal organizations, such as the Baker’s Union Local 453, the Workman’s Circle, the Women’s Consumers’ Educational League, and the Folke Shul Center on Soto Street. Advocates for a strong, Yiddish-centered culture, they also shared ideological roots in socialist principles, such as fervent participation in trade union activism—a radical stance in the aggressive, open-shop (non-union) environment of Los Angeles. The success of the intensive fundraising activity led to the unveiling in February 1926 of architectural plans for the new building, with construction taking place soon thereafter. 

Images of the Mt. Sinai facilities from the archives of the B'nai B'rith Messenger.

On November 7, a formal opening dedication was held for the new, 50-bed, one-story brick and concrete building that featured a long outdoor porch, a spacious corridor bisecting the building and which divided the men's and women’s wards, a kosher kitchen, a physician’s laboratory, a small auditorium, an audio paging system, and a room equipped to perform minor surgery. As could be expected, maintaining a publicly-supported charity hospital demanded constant appeals for financial support, with local community backing insufficient to cover the facility’s increased expenses.  

In 1928, the hospital board elected Peter Kahn (1878-1952) as the president of the Mt. Sinai Home for the Incurables. Before arriving in the United States in the early 1900s and becoming a locally successful produce distributor, the Ukraine-born Kahn was an active socialist with the revolutionary Labor Jewish Bund.  With that organization, he organized trade unions and labor strikes in defense of Jewish workers in Poland and Russia, earning him several stints in jail. This kind of activity, however, was not an entirely unusual background for the number of Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jews arriving in Boyle Heights after 1910.  

The Mt. Sinai Hospital from a history of Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

In 1929, under Kahn, the hospice again changed its name to the slightly-less grim-sounding Mount Sinai Home for the Chronic Invalids. It was also a period when “old money” patrons from the Jewish westside started to play a more prominent fundraising role in support of the Mt. Sinai Home.   This was exemplified by a 1929 star-studded fundraiser at the Shrine Auditorium, featuring film stars Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer and renowned singer and comedian Sophie Tucker.  Four years later, there was a large outdoor event called the “Oklahoma Stampede and Thrills of the Air Show” staged at the  Rose Bowl in Pasadena and sponsored by the Central Labor Council. The participation of big-name entertainers continued with a 1936 all-star baseball game at Wrigley Field (one of several) featuring such major celebrities as Bing Crosby, George Burns, Eddie Cantor, and George Raft. 

But in the following year, the work of a local Boyle Heights artist would also reveal the seemingly philosophical divide between the working-class supporters of the Mount Sinai Home, and its “old-money” patrons, over what kind of image they wanted to project to the broader community.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Kaspare Cohn Hospital and the Mt. Sinai Hospital and Clinic, Part Three

Editor's note:  This third part of this excellent post by Boyle Heights Historical Society Advisory Board member Rudy Martinez takes us into the move and renaming of Kaspare Cohn Hospital to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in East Hollywood, as well as the fascinating and timely controversy involving a purported cancer treatment trial supported by cereal titan Will Keith Kellogg and involving local institutions, including one at the former Cohn site as well as at White Memorial Hospital.  Part four of this post will appear a week from today so check back then.

By 1924, the Kaspare Cohn Hospital was only fourteen years old, but, for the administrators of the facility, the demand for a more comprehensive institution offering a wider degree of health services was undeniable. With a large number of needy and ailing patients, the hospital was struggling with 30 percent overcrowding and day-long waits by patients, while the facility was often forced to deny admissions. There was also a need to have an institution that could provide internships and teaching opportunities that were unavailable at other hospitals due to widespread anti-Semitism in the medical field.

There was also a desire to relocate the hospital from the current eastside location to an area where it could still be accessible to the Boyle Heights community as well as to the growing Jewish population living in the Hollywood/Westside area. Considerably more acculturated and affluent than the Orthodox, working-class Jews in the Eastside, the latter were also the hospital’s primary donation base, especially for its next phase. By the mid-Twenties, finding a suitable area to build a new, state-of-the-art hospital was already a priority.

The Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in East Hollywood, ca. 1920s.  From the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

In 1923, the Federation of Jewish Charities of Los Angeles was established to efficiently administer the endowment funds from various charitable organizations under a single network. In that same year, the organization kicked-off a “One Million Dollar Fund Drive,” with an event held at the Ambassador Hotel, this being the most ambitious fundraising campaign ever undertaken by the city’s Jewish community. The goal was to underwrite four immediate projects: the Jewish Orphans Home (today it is the Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services), two Boyle Heights-based projects - the Congregation Talmud Torah, better known as the Breed Street Shul, and a proposed Jewish social center at the corner of Soto and Michigan streets – as well as a new facility, at a site yet to be determined, to replace the Kaspare Cohn Hospital. 

Along with the successful One Million Dollar Drive, funding for the replacement of the hospital was also aided by generous contributions from the motion picture industry, and a $150,000 donation from Ben Meyer, a former president of the Kaspare Cohn Hospital, and Milton Getz. Both were not only senior executives of Union Bank (formerly the Kaspare Cohn Commercial and Savings Bank), but were sons-in-law of the late founder.    

A newspaper photo of White Memorial Hospital, Boyle Heights, 1930.

With contributions still coming in, property was purchased for the new hospital at 4833 Fountain Avenue, situated one block south of Sunset Boulevard in the East Hollywood area. The opening dedication for the completed Art Deco-styled hospital was held on May 11, 1930. It was an occasion that also introduced two new features: the admission policy was now officially “non-sectarian,” meaning that the new hospital would be open to all, while the other was the inauguration of the hospital’s new name: Cedars of Lebanon. 

A modern and comprehensive medical, research, and training facility for its day, the eight-story hospital had over 500 patient rooms, including a children’s and infants’ ward. It also featured a roof-top sun deck, a 300-person capacity auditorium, and a separate nurses' residence. Continuing its charitable mission, the hospital also featured an entire floor dedicated to patients with no means to pay. But over the years, the well-equipped institution was just as well-known as the hospital of choice for numerous celebrities; Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley were treated there, and Mexican screen icon Jorge Negrete died at the facility in 1953.     

Los Angeles Times, 11 February 1930.

In 1976, Cedars of Lebanon left the Fountain Avenue location to merge with the Mount Sinai Hospital, another former eastside hospital, and form Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. But the former Cedars of Lebanon Hospital still stands today as a singularly, distinctive-looking structure. The following year, the entire medical campus was sold to the Church of Scientology to serve as their official, “Pacific Area Command Base.” The building was painted completely blue, with Scientology spelled out in sixteen-feet tall letters, along with an eight-pointed cross, at the top of the building.

In 1930, the same year the Kaspare Cohn Hospital closed its Whittier Boulevard location, the facility soon emerged, with different tenants, as the site of one of the most controversial medical episodes in American medical history. Early that year, the medical establishment was stunned when two San Francisco doctors, Walter B. Coffey and John. D. Humber, announced they were conducting clinical trials with a “potential cancer vaccine” that they described as a “potent extract” and “highly promising.” Obtained from the cortex of the adrenal glands in sheep, the doctors injected the “Coffey-Humber extract,” into patients with late-stage cancer. Insisting it was not a “cure for cancer, yet” the doctors, nevertheless, announced early trials showed a “high percentage [of patients] seemed to be free of the disease.” Nationwide excitement and anticipation ran high as, mostly, William Randolph Hearst-owned newspapers ran sensational stories that reported a cure for cancer was almost imminent, just as the country entered into a paralyzing economic depression. 

Times, 5 May 1930.

Enter, Will Keith Kellogg, the wealthy, Michigan-based cereal magnate, and philanthropist, known locally for establishing the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center in 1925 on the grounds on what is today, Cal Poly Pomona. Intrigued by the potential promise of the Coffey-Humber clinical trials, Kellogg established the W. K. Kellogg Research Foundation in early 1930. On February 21, the Los Angeles Times reported the foundation was providing a $500,000 endowment to the San Bernardino-based College of Medical Evangelists to conduct and expand the Coffey-Humber trials.


In 1930, the College of Medical Evangelists, founded by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, operated the highly-regarded Loma Linda teaching hospital near San Bernardino, the Glendale Sanatorium, and White Memorial Hospital in Boyle Heights, the latter being where a clinic for the Coffey-Humber trials had just opened. On March 24, the Times reported the Kellogg Research Foundation was leasing the former Kaspare Cohn Hospital buildings on Whittier Boulevard. With new medical equipment and renovated rooms to observe patients, the aim was to open the facility on May 15 and establish it as the “permanent headquarters” for the Coffey-Humber clinical trials. 

Doctors Coffey and Humber with wealthy supporter Grace Hammond Conners on the cover of Time magazine, 25 May 1931.

All this took place while the medical establishment publicly debated the efficacy of the Coffey-Humber trials, sounding eerily familiar to current debates about public health and the effectiveness of unproven vaccine treatments.  As early as February 1930, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) wrote that they “regretted the publicity on a cancer cure.” Noting the sensational claims by the lay press, the JAMA declared it was, “criminal for newspapers to arouse the hopes of cancer sufferers and to expend the limits of their funds to make the journey to California.” Nevertheless, shortly after the facility opened, desperate and hopeful patients from all over the country, “rich and poor,” suffering from late-stage cancer, began arriving at the former Cohn hospital site, as well as at the White Memorial Hospital clinic on Michigan Avenue in Boyle Heights, to participate in the Kellogg Foundation-sponsored cancer vaccine clinical trials.
 
The debate about the clinical trials was also highlighted on the front cover, with an accompanying lengthy article, in the May 25, 1931 issue of Time magazine. But the future of the trials took a critical turn that same month when the doctors were denied permission by the State of New York to conduct clinical trials at the Long Island estate of Grace Hammond Conners, a wealthy, 31-year-old widow, who was an enthusiastic supporter. Basically, the powerful and influential New York medical establishment emphatically voiced the growing consensus that the Coffey-Humber trials, which furnished little supportive data, showed no value as a treatment.

Times, 10 August 1931.

But soon thereafter, the results from their trials made it clear the extract was ineffective. On August 10, 1931, the Times reported that the Kellogg Research Foundation started to take steps to officially terminate its financial support for the Coffey-Humber trials and close all participating clinics, including those at the former Cohn Hospital site and at White Memorial Hospital. In November, the JAMA published a report on the trials by Dr. Rowland H. Harris, one of the foundation’s medical observers based at the Cohn hospital site. After observing 415 patients, Harris concluded that the treatments were not only ineffective, but often harmful to the patient.   

The site of the former Kaspare Cohn Hospital at the lower left of this aerial view taken in 1930, about the time the Kellogg Research Foundation leased the property for the Coffey-Humber cancer clinical trials.  From the University of California, Santa Barbara Aerial Photograph Collection.

To further cancer treatment research, the W. K. Kellogg Radiation Laboratory was established at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena in 1931, though the lab abandoned medicine a few years later to develop the facility into a world-renowned center for nuclear physics. But it also appears the Kellogg Foundation’s early support for the Coffey-Humber cancer trials has been completely erased from its public record and nothing about this episode is found, including in the published history of the foundation.    

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Kaspare Cohn Hospital and Mt. Sinai Hospital and Clinic, Part Two

 by Rudy Martinez

Editor's note: The second part of  this post by Boyle Heights Historical Society Advisory Board member Rudy Martinez takes us to the move of the Kaspare Cohn Hospital from Angelino Heights to what was later called East Los Angeles [Lincoln Heights was the original East Los Angeles.]  This part covers about a decade during the early part of the 20th century and we'll return next Tuesday with part three.  

With a growing population of Jewish immigrants in Los Angeles and no adequate hospital to serve them, the order of the day was to finally build a culturally familiar medical institution that was modern but large enough to accommodate their needs. In 1909, the Kaspare Cohn Association paid $5,000 for a 5-acre parcel at the southwest corner of Ditman and Stephenson Avenues for the construction of the new hospital. To comply with a 1904 city ordinance requiring hospitals of its type to be outside of Los Angeles city limits, it was also one block east of the line separating Boyle Heights from the county area beyond. In 1925, Stephenson Avenue was renamed, Whittier Boulevard. 

It should be pointed out that this was not the first Jewish institution established in the area. The Hebrew Benevolent Society of Los Angeles founded the first Los Angeles Jewish cemetery in Chavez Ravine in 1854 (where the former Naval and Marine Corps Armory stands today), but in 1901, they relocated the cemetery and those interred to the new Home Peace Cemetery at 4334 Stephenson Avenue (Whittier Boulevard), less than a mile east of the hospital site.  

Los Angeles Times, 5 September 1909

With the new hospital's projected cost being $50,000, committees were organized to solicit donations. When these gifts stalled at $20,000, four of the Jewish community’s most generous supporters stepped in. They included Harris Newmark, businessman and author of the valuable memoir, Sixty Years in Southern California: 1853 – 1913; David and Moses Hamburger, builders in 1908 of the opulent Hamburgers Department Store at Broadway and 8th Streets and which, fifteen years later, became the May Company; and the seemingly indispensable Kaspare Cohn. 

Designed by the architectural firm of Edelman and Barnett (Abram M. Edelman, son of the first rabbi in Los Angeles, also designed the Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights in 1923), the 50-bed hospital was projected to serve as a general hospital for medical, surgical, and obstetric patients. Architectural drawings called for a red brick, two-story building, 158 feet wide and 80 feet deep, with a lofty portico entrance flanked by grand stone columns. A 10-cot, single-story tubercular ward was also built behind the main building. 

The opening dedication was held with an overflow crowd in the hospital’s main hall on June 19, 1910. The ceremonies included several musical programs and addresses by some of the facility’s prominent patrons, including Cohn. The following day the Los Angeles Herald reported, “In every particular, the equipment and the arrangement of the hospital are modern and scientific. There are two buildings, one large two-story brick and the other, a smaller one, also of brick. The association has shown foresight in purchasing a large amount of ground upon which additional buildings may be erected if necessary.”  

Los Angeles Herald, 20 June 1910.

Like the original Carroll Avenue facility, no one was denied treatment or hospitalization because of their inability to pay. Thanks to the Jewish community’s steadfast support, the hospital’s appeals, large or small, were often answered. When the hospital needed fresh eggs, and chickens for Sunday dinner, fifty laying hens and a hen house were delivered. When they requested “dark scarlet geraniums” to beautify the grounds and walkways, a flat of flowers was immediately provided. Socialist Jewish collectives also contributed to the facility, including sewing supplies from the Los Angeles Needle Guild, and the stitching of hospital garments by the Temple Sewing Circle. 

The hospital’s compiled statistics for 1912 showed hospitalization care was provided to 327 patients, with 125 being male and 202 female, and 53 were surgical, 63 obstetrical, and 211 medical. Total deaths numbered 18, the same number of babies delivered. Tubercular patients accounted for nearly three dozen of the total hospital population and there were seven deaths from that disease. During this period, the hospital maintained a staff of five doctors, including two surgeons, one specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, one internist, and one who attended maternity cases. 

Beyond these scant details, there is not a lot of existing documentation relating to the doctors’ daily activities, according to a limited-edition book about the history of Cedars-Sinai Hospital, published for their 2002 centennial. The authors wrote, “with no surviving hospital records to consult, virtually nothing is known about the medical facilities, patient case histories or treatment protocols, specific to Kaspare Cohn Hospital.”  

A 1921 Sanborn map showing the location of the facility beyond Los Angeles city limits along Indiana Street, at the bottom.  From the Los Angeles Public Library.

From the day it opened, the charity hospital continued to operate with a deficit until two events came together to finally set the institution right financially.  First, the old Carroll Avenue house and some adjoining property was sold for $3,300. Then, Cohn, the hospital’s principal benefactor, responded with a donation of $5,300. By 1918, the hospital created a segregated wing with enhanced rooms for paying patients, purchased a new X-Ray machine, and installed an elevator. 

After the completion of some needed repairs, the hospital and property were said to be valued at upwards of $100,000. By the following year, the facility was operating the Jewish Dispensary of Los Angeles, a busy charity clinic in the Bunker Hill area of downtown Los Angeles. The only serious obstacle to their health-care mission was during the flu pandemic of 1918-1919. When the pandemic swept through Los Angeles in the latter part of the year, the hospital was forced to suspend services, except to care for hospital patients, because of a staff shortage after its superintendent and several nurses died and several others became severely ill. Fortunately, the interruption lasted only a few days before services resumed.    

A 1920s photograph of the front of the hospital from Cedars-Sinai: The One-Hundred Year History of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, 1902-2002.

The eastside hospital, however, had to continue to move forward without their steadfast patron, Kaspare Cohn, who died at his home at 2601 South Grand Avenue in 1916 at the age of seventy-six. His large, well-appointed house, constructed in 1900, was located at the southwest corner of Grand and Adams Boulevard, which was in an affluent area of the city where many prominent business figures resided.  For example, Cohn's business associate and cousin, Harris Newmark, lived nearby at 880 West Adams Boulevard. 

His widow, Hulda Newmark Cohn, lived in the home until 1924 when she sold it to the University of Southern California as a new home for its College of Music, though the structure was demolished not quite a decade later. Pointing to his vast banking and real estate interests, his investments in the region’s early utilities infrastructure, and his support for many of the city’s first Jewish institutions, the Los Angeles Evening Herald noted at the time of his death, “The death of Kaspare Cohn marks the passing of one of the men who helped make Southern California what it is today.”  

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Kaspare Cohn Hospital and Mt. Sinai Hospital and Clinic, Part One

by Rudy Martinez

Editor's note: Boyle Heights Historical Society Advisory Board member Rudy Martinez returns again with another multi-part post on the fascinating history of Boyle Heights and the east side, covering the development of what evolved into today's Cedar-Sinai Medical Center.  We start with this first installment about the East Los Angeles location of the Kaspare Cohn Hospital, which became Laguna Park and then, fifty years ago this month, Ruben Salazar Park, in honor of the Latino journalist killed by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy during the Chicano Moratorium protests of 1970.  Each Tuesday, we'll continue with Rudy's excellent telling of the history of the Cohn and Mt. Sinai facilities as essential to the Jewish presence in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles for much of the 20th century.

Today, most people in Los Angeles might have at least a passing familiarity with the renowned Cedars-Sinai Medical Center that has been operating (in both meanings of the word) in west Los Angeles since 1955. Initially established for the Jewish residents of Los Angeles as the Kaspare Cohn Hospital, it began providing health care to tuberculosis patients in a Victorian-era house in Echo Park in 1902, before moving to a newly built, and then-impressive, two-story building in 1910. 

But the not-for-profit facility, and the first hospital under Jewish auspices in Southern California, was not built at the current Cedars-Sinai location, but instead, in East Los Angeles. Specifically, this was on a parcel on Whittier Boulevard that eventually became Ruben Salazar Park, a Los Angeles County park recognized today for its own unique and historic legacy from events that took place a half-century ago this summer. But it took decades, and the eventual consolidation with another former eastside Jewish hospital, and its nearby clinic in Boyle Heights, before the Kaspare Cohn Hospital would emerge as the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.             

Located at 3864 Whittier Boulevard, Ruben Salazar Park, or just Salazar Park to eastside residents, sits one block east of Indiana Street, which divides the city’s Boyle Heights neighborhood from the unincorporated county area of East Los Angeles. On August 29, 1970, the park was the site of a violent clash between anti-war protesters and Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies at the conclusion of a protest march known as the Chicano Moratorium, the largest protest march in the history of East Los Angeles. 

A 1960s tract map showing the location of Laguna Park, renamed after Ruben Salazar in September 1970, and formerly the site of the Kaspare Cohn Hospital, from the Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor.

Later that day, Ruben Salazar, the award-winning Los Angeles Times columnist, and news director for the local Spanish-language TV station, KMEX, was killed instantly while sitting inside the Silver Dollar Bar on Whittier Boulevard when he was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by a deputy who took a position just outside the curtained doorway of the tavern. A coroner’s inquest ruled that Salazar “died at the hands of another;” however, neither the deputy who fired the tear gas canister nor anyone from the Sheriff’s Department were held criminally responsible. In September, just after Salazar’s killing, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to honor him by renaming what was then Laguna Park to Ruben Salazar Park. 

The preceding illustrates that the history of a place is not always fully recalled in an old structure or a monument, but is sometimes found submerged over layers of time. While the events surrounding the historic 1970 Chicano Moratorium at Salazar Park are generally well-known, this post focuses on peeling back the years to the early part of the 20th century to focus on the lesser-known history of that land.  This is a place that claims a historic legacy for both the Jewish and Mexican American communities of Los Angeles, while also serving as one of the principal sites where the early development of modern medicine and institutional healthcare in Los Angeles emerged. So, for the moment, let’s take a trip down Whittier Boulevard. 

During the early twentieth century, numerous ailing consumptives—a common term for people with tuberculosis—were leaving parts of the midwest and east coast for the supposedly healing climate and warm sunshine of Los Angeles, a reputation largely perpetuated by local booster literature. The more affluent could afford lengthy stays at “consumptive sanatoriums” but impoverished immigrants and the working poor, which included Jewish transplants from the east coast, could only rely on the meager resources of the city’s dedicated, but somewhat haphazard, network of charity agencies, leaving many to die alone with little care. 

Los Angeles Times, 18 September 1970.

In 1901, former El Monte resident, Jacob Schlesinger was the president of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Los Angeles, and also a member of a cadre of successful and mostly German-born Jewish merchants and bankers who supported several local Jewish-aid institutions. Wealthy and often integrated into Los Angeles upper society, they generally did not deal much with the poor, Yiddish-speaking eastern-European Jewish immigrants now arriving in Los Angeles. But Schlesinger decided it was time for the city’s elite Jewish families to establish a sanatorium for the destitute consumptives that were overwhelming the local charity institutions. 

He found a sympathetic ear in that of Kaspare Cohn, president of the Kaspare Cohn Commercial and Savings Bank, a downtown institution that is now Union Bank. Born in Loebau, Prussia (now Lubawa, Poland) in 1839, Cohn arrived in Los Angeles in the late 1850s. One prominent example of his many business endeavors was the purchase of the sprawling ranch property of Italian immigrant Alessandro Repetto in 1886. With several other prominent Jewish investors, including Harris Newmark (his cousin), and Isaias W. Hellman, a founder of Boyle Heights, they developed the area into the town of Newmark, later changed to Montebello. 

Schlesinger’s mandate was to establish a no-charge sanatorium for consumptives, supported entirely by ongoing contributions from the city’s Jewish community. In 1902, Kaspare Cohn bought a two-story house in the Angelino Heights tract at 1443 Carroll Avenue, a street now renowned for its beautiful row of restored Victorian-era houses, and donated it to the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Los Angeles for the proposed sanatorium. The house was already occupied by the Wooley Sanatorium, which advertised “for treatment and cure in ten days of Opium, Morphine, Cocaine, Whisky, and similar habits.”

The Kaspare Cohn Hospital on Carroll Street in Angelino Heights, ca. 1905.  From the University of Southern California's Digital Library Collection.

Named the Kaspare Cohn Hospital, the facility was dedicated on September 21, 1902, with 12 beds, two nurses, and two rotating doctors. But two years later, nearby residents started complaining about the potentially infectious patients convalescing in their neighborhood. On May 4, 1904, the Los Angeles Times reported on an approved ordinance prohibiting the “maintenance of hospitals with patients suffering from contagious or infectious diseases, except in a 200-acre tract of a hill in Elysian Park. The ordinance was primarily aimed at the Kaspare Cohn Hospital, a benevolent institution maintained by charitable Hebrews.” The “200-acre tract” referred to the Barlow Sanatorium, which also opened in 1902 on a campus in Chavez Ravine. By 1905 the Kaspare Cohn Hospital arranged to have their tuberculosis patients transferred to the Barlow Sanatorium while it continued to operate as a general hospital.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Remembering the Honorable David A. Workman (1930-2020)


IN REMEMBRANCE OF
THE HONORABLE DAVID A. WORKMAN
March 30, 1930 - March 23, 2020

The Honorable David A Workman passed away on March 23, 2020, just a week before his 90th birthday.

He was born in Los Angeles and his family roots are connected with Boyle Heights. 

His maternal great-grandfather was Andrew Boyle for whom Boyle Heights was named. 

His paternal grandparents were Boyle Heights founder William H. Workman and Maria Boyle Workman. 

His parents were Thomas E. Workman and Margaret Kilgariff.

He served in the United States Marine Corps, including its reserves, and retired in 1985 with the rank of colonel.

The Boyle Heights Historical Society would like to share some of our memories wherein we had the pleasure and honor of meeting Judge Workman and interacting with him throughout the years.

Judge Workman was the family historian and gatekeeper of the Workman family historic records and photos. Therefore, as the Boyle Heights Historical Society was organizing fifteen years ago, we reached out to him to learn about the rich history and early beginnings of Boyle Heights.  We knew Judge Workman was very busy but he contacted me and said he would be happy to attend our meeting.  

SHARED MEMORIES - Diana Ybarra, Boyle Heights Historical Society
We had the honor and pleasure of meeting Judge Workman in 2005.  The Boyle Heights Historical Society was just organizing and held its second outreach meeting at the beautiful Neighborhood Music School on Boyle Avenue.  We had approximately 40 community members in attendance, including representatives from our newly formed Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council.

This was a very important meeting and Retired United States Air Force Colonel Melvin "Bud" Weber, founding member and organizer, discussed the goals and mission of the Boyle Heights Historical Society.  He was born and raised in Boyle Heights, was a 1944 graduate of Roosevelt High School, and stayed connected with the Roosevelt Alumni Foundation, although he resided in Laguna Woods. He was very honored to meet a descendant of William H. Workman (founder of Boyle Heights) and appreciated Judge Workman coming to our meeting and sharing his memories and ideas.

A wave of changes was about to take place in Boyle Heights.  There were meetings and discussions with the CRA for new development, and significant changes were already underway in Boyle Heights. 

We were also fortunate that Paul Spitzzeri from the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum was able to attend our meeting. Paul prepared a very informative presentation and answered questions from the attendees.  The slide presentation showed vintage photos of Andrew Boyle and the Workman family, loaned by Judge Workman from his family's collection, as well as other earlier period photos of Boyle Heights.  

The vineyards that once graced the area of Boyle Heights were replaced with various structures, such as St. Mary's Catholic Church.  It was an enlightening presentation, and many of the photos and much of the information he shared had never been seen by residents. Usually, the history of Boyle Heights and early Los Angeles is shared and discussed at universities and museums.  Paul's knowledge was greatly appreciated.

[Andrew] Boyle Workman, grandson of Boyle Heights namesake Andrew A. Boyle and son of founder William Henry Workman and City Council president during much of the 1920s, with his nephews (left to right), Thomas, Henry, David and Richard, upon the publication of Boyle's book, The City That Grew, published in 1935.
Redevelopment and changes were in the future of Boyle Heights
We shared our concerns with Judge Workman regarding the future of Boyle Heights.  Many new projects were going to be developed in the coming years and older, historic homes were going to be demolished.  He gave us his thoughtful input regarding the significance of historic preservation and historic districts.  

He then directed everyone's attention to the property directly across the street on Boyle Avenue.  This was where the Workman family homestead once stood.  It was the site where Andrew Boyle built his brick house.  The property was later sold to the Jewish Home for the Aging and the Workman home was demolished, and in the 1970s it was sold again and reopened as the Keiro Retirement Home. 

Judge Workman shared his recollections of visiting his Aunt Mary Julia Workman (daughter of William H. Workman) and driving around with her on her errands throughout Boyle Heights. She was the founder of the Brownson Settlement House in 1901 and which is now part of the Catholic Youth Organization of the Catholic Charities of Los Angeles.  She was involved in social services and politics in Boyle Heights and Los Angeles.

As the meeting concluded, I realized that this was no ordinary day in Boyle Heights.  In fact, Judge Workman's presence at the Boyle Heights Historical Society meeting was truly a special moment in time. Listening to him speak and share these wonderful memories helped paint a picture of what Boyle Heights was like many years ago.  He truly made our meeting even more memorable. It was an historic moment for all of us.

It was a great honor to have a descendant from Andrew Boyle and William H. Workman sharing his memories with us, and being seated across the street from the Boyle and Workman family homestead—where the history of Boyle Heights began.

At right, David Workman, a retired United States Marine Corps colonel and longtime Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, with retired Air Force colonel Melvin "Bud" Weber at an organizing committee meeting for the Boyle Heights Historical Society, Neighborhood Music School, 2005.  Photo courtesy of Diana Ybarra.
Revisiting Boyle Heights
After our meeting, I kept in touch with Judge Workman. He had expressed his desire to visit several historical sites in the community.  On several occasions when we drove through Boyle Heights he would point out certain places that he recalled visiting, adding his vignettes with historical insight and new information.

Iglesia Bautista Unida, formerly Hollenbeck Presbyterian Church, built in 1895.
Judge Workman expressed an interest in visiting the Hollenbeck Presbyterian Church (built in 1895) on Chicago Street, the building now serving as Iglesia Bautista Unida.  I arranged for Judge Workman to visit with the current pastor.  Judge Workman's great grandmother, Nancy Hook, was a member of the original church and donated one of the stained glass windows, so he hoped to see the window.  We learned that most of the original windows had been replaced.  However, a portion could still be seen—a small piece of the American flag that had been part of the design.

On another occasion that I fondly remember, I asked Judge Workman if he would be available to drive through Boyle Heights with Jay Platt (formerly with the Los Angeles Conservancy) and me. The purpose was to identify significant sites in Boyle Heights that could become historical landmarks or historic residential districts.

During our tour through the area, we made a stop at La Mascota Bakery on Whittier Boulevard to purchase some tamales.  Judge Workman had mentioned to me that he really enjoyed the tamales from this well-known neighborhood establishment. 

The Boyle Hotel - Landmark Application
The amazing history of the López family of Paredón Blanco and the history of Andrew Boyle and William H. Workman are interconnected. 
In 2006, I was contacted by Catherine López Kurland, a descendant of George Cummings and Sacramenta López de Cummings (her great-grandparents), who had built the Boyle Hotel as the Cummings Hotel and Business Block in 1889. Catherine and I discussed how the Boyle Heights Historical Society could assist and support nominating the Boyle Hotel as an historical cultural monument (HCM).
I reached out to Judge Workman to share our concerns about the historic Boyle Hotel and our efforts to have it nominated as an historic landmark.  I also explained that Catherine was a descendant of the López family of Paredón Blanco and of George Cummings who built the hotel.
Judge Workman was interested in hearing more about the historic Boyle Hotel and mentioned that he might have some documents that Catherine may want to review.   Soon thereafter, Catherine, Judge Workman, his nephew, Paul Workman, and I met for breakfast at Du-par’s in the Original Farmers Market.
It never occurred to me the types of documents Judge Workman would have in his possession nor could I have imagined what he was going to share with us.  It is difficult for me to describe how I felt at that moment when Judge Workman showed several significant documents representing the history of the community of Boyle Heights before it evolved.  To be present and witness these historical documents, and to be at a breakfast meeting with the descendants of the two most significant families of Paredón Blanco and Boyle Heights was something I had never imagined.  Personally, this moment in time was absolutely significant and historical.

SHARED MEMORIES: Catherine López Kurland 
My first meeting with Judge Workman was memorable, pivotal in fact. Just months before, Diana Ybarra, the founding president of the Boyle Heights Historical Society, and I recognized our mutual concern for the future of The Boyle Hotel, which was in imminent danger of being demolished. Saving the historic 1889 structure was beyond our means, but we could work together to obtain an historical designation for posterity and to slow down the wrecker’s ball. This required researching the history of the hotel for the nomination.
I knew that my great-grandfather George Cummings had built the hotel, but I didn’t know that it was on land that had been in the family of my great-grandmother María Francisca del Sacramento López (Sacramenta) since the 1830s. I proceeded to learn about my mother’s ancestors’ connections in the area, but was stumped by not being able to pin down something Sacramenta’s sister Francisca Lopez de Bilderrain had written: the second wife of their grandfather sold the López adobe, farmlands and vineyards at the bottom of the bluff “to a new arrival in town…none other than the affable and jovial Irish gentleman, Mr. Andrew Boyle.” 
Nowhere, however, in any history of Boyle Heights could I find a mention of the seller from whom Boyle had bought the land that became the residential development his son-in-law William H. Workman named in his honor. Thanks to Judge Workman, the missing piece of the puzzle was soon to be revealed at Du-Par’s one morning when Diana arranged for me to meet Judge Workman and his nephew Paul for the first time. 
It was thrilling to meet Judge Workman and hear his riveting stories about the history of Boyle Heights, when, to everyone’s surprise, he quietly pulled from his briefcase the handwritten deed of sale from Petra Varela to Andrew Boyle. Petra Varela was the widow and second wife of Estevan López, to whom the Ayuntamiento of Los Angeles in 1835 gave permission to build a house and granted him the land at the bottom of the bluff where he raised stock and cultivated crops, including wine grapes. (Fortunately, prior to his death, Estevan gave large parcels of the property to his children, including Sacramenta’s father, Francisco “Chico” López.)

From left to right, Paul C. Workman, Catherine López Kurland, Diana Ybarra and David Workman.
The revelation of the deed of sale was one of two instances when Judge Workman shared with me items that were key to our knowledge of the foundations of Boyle Heights and, in the second instance, the Boyle Hotel-Cummings Block, aka Mariachi Hotel. 
Under the sponsorship of the Boyle Heights Historical Society, and with the support of longtime residents, preservationists, and the new owners of the hotel—the East LA Community Community Corporation (ELACC)—the City of Los Angeles designated the Boyle Hotel-Cummings Block as a Historic-Cultural Monument in October 2007. ELACC purchased the property with the intention of saving and restoring the historic, but deteriorating, old structure. 
Unfortunately there were no photographs of the front facade on Boyle Avenue (then López Street). Once again, out of the blue, Judge Workman came up with a treasure: a photograph of the Cummings Block that was probably taken for the grand opening in 1889. I was moved beyond words to see the the distinguished brick building with William H. Workman on the sidewalk and George Cummings on the parapet. The image came to light just in time to submit critical information for the architectural restoration of the building. In December 2012 the Boyle Hotel-Cummings Block reopened, a proud landmark in keeping with its original design—thanks, in part, to Judge Workman.
These were but two of the many times that Judge Workman invited Diana and me to look over his historical documents and images. We three reveled in our shared passion: the multilayered history of Boyle Heights. It was always a pleasure to be in Judge Workman’s company, a gentleman with a dignified and gracious manner, infused with a subtle sense of humor belied by a barely concealed grin and a twinkle in his eye. He never hinted at the wellspring of knowledge beyond what we covered. 
Later, Judge Workman gave me carte blanche to avail myself of material from his family collection for the book I was working on, Hotel Mariachi: Urban Space and Cultural Heritage in Los Angeles (University of New Mexico Press, 2013). His profound knowledge of Los Angeles history and Boyle Heights in particular was only matched by his generosity in sharing it. I am indebted to Judge Workman, and grateful for having had the honor of knowing him.

A detail of the Boyle Hotel-Cummings Block.
The Boyle Hotel-Cummings Block was landmarked, restored and reopened in 2012 as affordable housing and Judge Workman joined Catherine and her family for this special ceremony and celebration.

 
Judge Workman and Catherine López Kurland at the reopening of the historic Boyle Hotel-Cummings Block in 2012.  Photo by Diana Ybarra.

2011 Exhibit: Images and Essays, Boyle Heights, 1850-1900


In 2011, I was assisting with a special exhibit for the Boyle Heights Historical Society.  I met with Paul Spitzzeri and Judge Workman to review photos from the Workman Family Collection that we could possibly use for the exhibit.  The exhibit was displayed for three months at the William H. Perry Mansion at Heritage Square Museum. The Society also displayed the exhibit at the library of Occidental College.  The Boyle-Workman family history panel shows photos of Andrew Boyle; his brick house and wine cellar; William H. Workman; Maria Boyle Workman; and their children: Boyle, Elizabeth, Mary Julia and William H., Jr.

David Workman and Diana Ybarra in 2019 with a display panel of the Boyle and Workman families from images provided by the Workman Family Collection.  Photo courtesy of Vivian Escalante.
Judge Workman was very helpful and gracious in providing me with the photos, as well as directing me to see the materials in the Workman family collection housed at Loyola Marymount University's Department of Archives and Special Collections in the William H. Hannon Library.
Sharing Historical Documents
In 2019, Gary Temple and Judge Workman, whose ancestors William and David Workman were brothers, shared some historical materials relevant to the early development of Boyle Heights.  We met at the historic Blanchard House.  Rose Acosta Yonai, Chief Financial Officer with the Boyle Heights Historical Society, hosted the afternoon with lunch and her husband John gave a tour of the beautiful home.  Judge Workman commented that he recalled visiting with his aunt many late 1800s houses in the area that were very beautiful.  Sadly, many of the homes of that period were modernized or demolished.
On this lovely afternoon, I also introduced Judge Workman to Vivian Escalante who was Vice-President of the Boyle Heights Historical Society and Chair of the Preservation Committee for the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council.  Ms. Escalante shared with him her commitment to help preserve the history and important structures in Boyle Heights. 
Judge Workman was very happy to share several historical documents with us. The documents are pertinent to the history of Boyle Heights and could serve as supportive documentation for creating historic landmarks or districts in Boyle Heights.  They are visual records of how Boyle Heights came to be.
This was a delightful afternoon we shared with wonderful conversations and refreshments. 

David Workman with Boyle Heights Historical Society members Vivian Escalante (seated left), Rose Acosta-Yonai (seated right) and Diana Ybarra (standing right) and with his cousin Gary Temple at the Blanchard House in Boyle Heights, 2019.
With great appreciation for Judge Workman’s kindness and willingness to help us share the extensive history of Boyle Heights and Los Angeles, we will continue to share, respect and preserve this history for future residents of Boyle Heights and generations to come.
We Salute You Colonel David A. Workman - Semper Fi!