In 1898, General Harrison Grey Otis, publisher and editor of the Los Angeles Times, built his home on the north side of Wilshire Boulevard at Park View Street, overlooking Westlake Park. Designed by local architect John Kremple and nicknamed “The Bivouac,” the elaborate Mission Revival mansion was one of the first homes to be built on the first block of Wilshire Boulevard west of Downtown. In its early years, the prominence of the house and its owner had few parallels in the city; in addition to other visiting statesmen, “The Bivouac” hosted President William McKinley during an overnight visit in 1901.
Upon General Otis’ death in 1917, the property was deeded to Los Angeles County for exclusive use in the advancement of the arts. After some interior renovations and the construction of an annex along Wilshire Boulevard, the newly-formed Otis Art Institute opened its doors to students in 1918. Three decades and over 10,000 students later, the Otis house was demolished in 1954 to make way for a new library and gallery building, shown in the contemporary photograph. In 1997, the Otis College of Art and Design moved to its current location in Westchester. Its former Wilshire Boulevard campus is now home to the Charles W. White Elementary School of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
1. “$500,000 building for art institute begun.” Los Angeles Times. 11 Nov. 1956. G19.
2. “County plans completed for ‘the Bivouac’ art galleries.” Los Angeles Times. 25 Nov. 1917. II1.
3. Freudenheim, Leslie M. Building with Nature: Inspiration for the Arts and Crafts Home. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2005.
4. “Gen. Otis home to pass into history.” Los Angeles Times. 18 Apr. 1954. B1.
5. ”Otis Institute to be big factor in art life.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Dec. 1918. II1.
6. ”President’s evening at ‘the Bivouac.’” Los Angeles Times. 9 May 1901. 4.
Original photo: “chs-m1748 – Exterior view of the home of General Harrison Gray Otis on Wilshire Boulevard, ca.1890-1898.” Title Insurance and Trust/C. C. Pierce Photography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/assetserver/controller/view/CHS-293.