6660 Sunset: Longyear Packard / Howard Automobile Co. Buick

Located at the southwest corner of Sunset and Cherokee, this building was constructed in 1930 to house the new Hollywood home of Donald M. Longyear Packard.

Research of this property is complicated by the fact that it was at one time addressed as 6666 Sunset Boulevard. Two aut buildings were being proposed on the parcel in 1929. The other building, which would be just to the west (the future Vendome building) had been 6680 but became 6666 Sunset. A permit for a building at 6666 was obtained by the Christie Realty Co. in October 1929. The permit states the building was to be at the southwest corner of Sunset and Cherokee. It was actually just west of the corner, between Cherokee and Las Palmas.

Donald Longyear Packard, being planned at the same time, became 6660 and when it opened in 1930 was the first to use that address.

The southwest corner of Sunset and Cherokee (addressed as 6666 Sunset as noted above) was originally a 10-room private residence built in 1912 for Miss Alice Chenoweth, who lived here with her married sister Mary and her husband, a former judge named John P. Johnson.

Built as a residence in 1912, 6666 Sunset was later renumberd as 6660. LAT 6/12/1912.

The Chenoweth/Johnsons continued to reside here through 1919. By 1921 they had moved on and the William E. Smith family moved in.

On December 12, 1928, local papers reported that Hollywood Packard dealer Donald M. Longyear had purchased a 100 x 200 foot lot at the southwest corner of Sunset and Cherokee from W.E. Smith and would build a new auto showroom there. Later that month, the Chenoweth/Smith bungalow was moved to 1370 Quintero Street, Los Angeles. (The permit for this move is filed under 6666 Sunset, its address at the time), where it was joined with an exiting building and appears to have survived to the present day.

Since 1923, Longyear had been located Hollywood’s other auto row at 7026 Hollywood Boulevard, affiliated with California’s Packard distributor Earl C. Anthony.

12/12/1928. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

Althoughin December 1928 he expected to open by May or June 1929, construction on the new Hollywood Packard home had not even begun at that time. In September 1929, the Times reported that Longyear had hired architects Parkinson and Parkinson to design an auto showroom for the property, then still address as 6666 Sunset, to be built by P.J. Walker.

9/22/1929. LAT.

In October 1929, the Hollywood Daily Citizen reported that DeSoto dealer William C. Bush had leased 6666 Sunset (previously 6680) for his new Hollywood dealership. The permit for the work, obtained 10/8/1929, also lists it as 6666 so the address renumbering seems to have occurred between September and October 1929.

Longyear’s new Packard showroom opened on December 8, 1930 as 6660 Sunset.

6660 Sunset under construction at the SW corner of Cherokee. P. J. Walker progress photo 9/6/1930. Wm. E. Bush DeSoto at 6666 Sunset is to the west. CSL.

 

Now as 6660 Sunset. 12/3/1930. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

 

12/31/1930. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

 

Less than a year after opening here, a janitor at the Packard dealership, Walter Lee, gave sensational testimony in the second trial of former Deputy D.A. Dave Clark for the shooting death murder of journalist Herbert Spencer, which occurred on May 20, 1931 right across the street in the 6665 Sunset Boulevard “real estate” office of LA’s underworld boss Charles Crawford. (Crawford was also shot, but neither Clark nor anyone else was ever tried for his murder). Clark’s first trial had ended with a deadlocked Jury. The defense produced Lee as its witness at the retrial on October 14, 1931.

Lee told the court that he saw a small black sedan parked in front of the dealership the day of the murder with two men in the front seat. A crowd had gathered in front of Crawford’s office. Lucille Fisher, Crawford’s secretary, came out, crossed Sunset, and got into the vehicle, the back door already open for her. She had a gun, the barrel of which was wrapped in a bloody towel. She placed on the seat of the car, then held in her lap. The car drove away. One of them looked like a police officer. Lee identified the location of the car on the map, in front of 6660 Sunset.

Lee’s testimony went over like the proverbial bombshell. Special Prosecutor W. Joseph Ford, the State having already rested its case, made the unusal move of requesting the trial be reopened and recalled the men who had been in the car: LAPD officer J.R. Stevens, and George D. Copeland, another “real estate man” in Crawford’s offices. Both had testified previously about being in the car but neither had mentioned Fisher or a gun. Stevens admitted that he, Copeland and Fisher had gone to Central Station downtown in Copeland’s car that night after the shooting. He also admitted that the car had been parked exactly where Lee said it was. But he claimed he’d not seen any gun. Copeland, confronted with his previous testimony, asked to “correct” it. Ford also called Crawford’s lawyer, Jerry Geisler, to the stand. Geisler said he drove up to 6665 Sunset as Copeland and Stevens were about to drive off with Fisher in the backseat, but was too “excited” to notice whether she had a gun.

 

Lucille Fisher, Charles Crawford’s stenographer. 10/14/1931. LA Evening Express.

10/15/1931. LA Evening Express.

Lee told the court he had not been questioned by the D.A. at any time. Lucille Fisher had since taken a powder and was not called as a witness in the second trial. The prosecution did not bother subpoena her, even now.

But, then, these were not murders that was ever meant to be solved and the sequel to this trial was an even bigger farce than the original. The jury acquitted Clark five days later. The Packard dealership employee’s testimony had gone far in creating reasonable doubt.

10/19/1931. LA Illustrated Daily News.

 

In 1932, Longyear added Hudson and Essex to the dealership, alongside Packard. 7/13/1932. Hollywood Citizen News.

Longyear added the rooftop sign in March 1931. 4/26/1933. Hollywood Citizen News.

On April 26, 1933, W. H. Collins took over the dealership from Douglas Longyear.

 

4/26/1933. Hollywood Citizen News.

On May 1, 1936, Packards left 6660 Sunset Boulevard altogether. It became the new Hollywood home of the Charles Howard Automobile Company.

4/8/1936. LA Illustrated Daily News.

Charles S. Howard was a well-known name in Los Angeles as the longtime distributor for Buick (P.I. Avery Shepard is a loyal Buck man) and for his interest in horseracing. In 1936, the year he opened his Hollywood dealership at 6660 Sunset, he bought Seabiscuit, the famous Thoroughbred of the Howard stables.

Charles Howard with Seabiscuit. LAPL.

Circa 1937, looking south at 6660 Sunset from Crossroads of the World, built on the site of Charles Crawford’s office at 6665 Sunset. LAPL- Herman Schultheis photo.

The 6600 block of Sunset Boulevard c. 1940 looking West showing 6660 when it was Howard Buick. Detail from a larger photo. LAPL.

 

In 1946, Howard Buick took over 6666 Sunset as part of the dealership’s complex. The building had been converted from automotive use into a cafe in 1933 and by this time stood vacant. Howard remodeled the structure back into use as a sales office.

 

The article gives the impression 6660 was built by the Howard Automobile Co. in 1936. It was taken over by the company in 1936, but had been built for Douglas Longyear in 1930. 5/17/1950. Hollywood Citizen News.

Charles Howard died on June 6, 1950, a month after Howard Buick celebrated 14 years at 6660 Sunset. His longtime manager at 6660 Sunset, Phil Hall took over the Sunset dealership, which became Phil Hall Buick.

8/9/1950. Hollywood Citizen News.

Phil Hall Buick remained here until April 1964, when he moved to a newer, larger space at 6909 Santa Monica Boulevard.

Auction of office furniture and fixtures. 4/4/1964. LAT.

 

6660 Sunset thereafter housed various retail businesses until it was demolished in late 1972. The current strip mall on the parcel was built in 1984 on the site of both 6660 Sunset and 6666 Sunset.

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