6665 Sunset: Charles H. Crawford Office / Crossroads of the World

My main post on Los Angeles crime boss Charles Crawford (updated 2020) is located here. This is my own, original research.

6665 Sunset Boulevard was Crawford’s business office and later the scene of his murder.

The irregular parcel, which later included the addresses 6663-6681 Sunset, was on the north side of the boulevard between Sunset and Selma with a short length of frontage on Las Plamas.

Papers at the time of Crawford’s purchase referred to it as the old Jewett Place, old being relative in Hollywood. Amelia V. Jewett, widow of Erwin S. Jewett, came out to Hollywood from Missouri in 1910 with her sister Mary and brother-in-law, Albert S. Holmes.

At that time the parcel did not extend as far north as Selma and had no Las Palmas (then Palm Avenue) frontage.

The addresses of this stretch of the boulevard, then designated “West Sunset Boulevard,” were 3-digit numbers beginning at South Cahuenga westward. Jewett’s home was addressed as 421 West Sunset Boulevard.

Detail of 1907 Sanborn Fire Insurance Company map for Hollywood. LOC.

Between 1912 and 1913, Palm Avenue became Estelle Avenue and would later be changed to “Las Palmas.”

The street addresses also changed during that time, going from 3-digits to 4, continuing the sequence from east of Cahuenga.

In 1911, Amelia had 3 bungalows built on this property, addressed as 6665, 6667 and 6669, in a north-south row near the Sunset Boulevard frontage. The original dwelling on the property, now numbered 6671, was located north of the bungalows. She was still living here in 1920 per the 1920 US census.

 

Detail from 1913 Sanborn Fire Insurance Company map of Hollywood. LOC.

Later that year, J.E. Hudson put up several 5-room bungalows, forming a court and addressed as 6673-6681.

Crawford bought the property in April 1923, one of his many real estate holdings.

4/15/1923. LAT.

This stretch of the boulevard, though “in the business zone” was still largely residential, with homes across the street where automotive business structures would be built in a few years at 6660 and 6666 Sunset; the Church of the Blessed Sacrament had only just begun construction on its school building to the east, which had been the home of former police commissioner H.W. Lewis and 6633 was still the Donovan residence.

Soon after buying the property, Crawford had 2-story, 8-family apartments built here designed by J. LeRoy Moser. He also rented the Hudson-built bunglaows. The complex was then called Crawford Court.

“Crawford Court.” 6/6/1924. LAT.

6/17/1924. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

6/13/1924. LAT.

4/29/1929. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

The Jewett bungalow that had previously used that address was not demolished, however. In October 1926, Crawford advertised the older residence to be moved off the property, and in 1927 it was relocated by a Walter Williams to 9512 S. Central Avenue, where it appears to have survived though largely hidden behind an addition.

9512 S. Central Avenue, formerly 6671 Sunset Boulevard. Google image.

In February 1924, Crawford had a teeny stucco office structure built on a narrow patch of ground between the sidewalk and one of the 1920 Hudson-built bungalows at 6665-1/2 Sunset. As 6665, it housed his “Investments and Insurance” and the real estate office of George D. Copland- who, in 1930, was accused of being Crawford’s bag man.

12/31/1929. The LA Record.

By 1930 Crawford’s political influence had diminished and he was often in court for various legal matters.

In March 1930, Los Angeles Examiner reporter Morris Lavine and former private secretary to S.C. Lewis of the failed Julian Oil company Leotine Johnson were accused of trying to extort hush-money from Crawford and other “businessmen,” whom Lavine threatened with exposure of asserted criminal acts. At the time of his arrest, Lavine was said to have had $75,000 in marked bills that he’d received from Crawford here at his 6665 Sunset Boulevard “real estate” office. Lavine told the grand jury that he believed he’d been framed, and challenged D.A. Buron Fitts (who became D.A. after successfully prosecuting his boss Asa Keyes for bribery in the same Julian Oil scandal) to thoroughly investigate the case, calling Crawford out as “an underworld character in this city for the past 20 years.” Lavine and Johnson were indicted on extortion charges.

On April 7, 1930, Crawford was named as owner of a brothel at 226-1/2 East Fifth Street (upstairs at his old Maple Bar, which he still controlled; the Mob hangs on to its property). George Copland, the realtor who shared the 6665 Sunset office, was accused of collecting rents from Crawford’s joints.

On April 16, 1930, as the Lavine-Johnson case was getting ready to go to trial, Crawford, S.C. Lewis and former State Corporation Commissioner Jack Friedlander were indicted on bribery-conspiracy charges related to Julian Oil, citing 14 specific instanaces where money changed hands between February 25, 1927 to September 1, 1929. Through his lawyer, Crawford denied the charges, proclaiming himself the victim of a “political plot.”

Lavine and Johnson were found guilty on the extortion charges July 4, 1930 and given a year in County Jail and fines of $5000.

On October 20, 1930, D.A. Fitts suddenly dropped the bribery charges against Crawford, Friedlander and Lewis for our old friend, “lack of evidence.”

However diminished his political influence was at this point, he clearly had some ‘pull.” The brothel story evaporated after only 1 day. Now 14 counts of bribery charges went away, just like that.

In early 1931, Crawford announced he was constructing a giant apartment building on the Sunset Boulevard property, designed by Architect Scott Quentin. It was never built.

2/15/1931. LAT.

 

Advertising all the Crawford real estate projects. 3/14/1931. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

 

On May 20, 1931, Crawford was shot in this office at 6665 Sunset Boulevard at about 4:30 in the afternoon. Also killed was newspaperman Herbert Spencer, who, mortally wounded, chased the killer out onto to Sunset Boulevard before collapsing. Several persons were in the Crawford office at the time, and saw the killer, who spent 20 minutes or more in conference with Crawford before the shooting.

8/12/1931. LA Evening Express.

Two LAPD radio car patrolmen,  W. W. Christopher and Walter J. Tassey, were parked on Sunset Boulevard in front of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, no more than 200 feet east of Crawford’s office, when the shooting took place. They apparently didn’t hear the shots, and did not see the shooter escaping. They got a call on the radio to go to 6665 Sunset and responded, but didn’t know what it was about (LAPD radios at the time were one-way). They found Spencer’s body. Crawford was fatally wounded. He died at Georgia Street Receiving Hospital that evening.

Crowds in front of 6665 Sunset after the double murder. 5/21/1931. LA Evening Express.

Map of Crawford’s rabbit warren of an office. 5/21/1931. LA Illustrated Daily News.

Police initially questioned Guy McAfee as Crawford’s onetime protege turned rival, but he had an alibi. Within hours, police were searching for David H. Clark, former Deputy D.A. and current judicial candidate, who had convicted Crawford’s minion Albert Marco in 1928.

Clark turned himself in and confessed to the crimes, claiming he shot in self defense. No gun had been found in Crawford’s office, though he had a licence to carry one and was said to be fearful for his life.

Unfortunately, Evening Express publisher Paul Block had every confidence D.A. Buron Fitts would use all the power of his office to keep LA gangland free. That confidence was misplaced. 5/22/1931. LA Evening Express.

Clark’s first trial, for the murder of Herbert Spencer, ended with the jury unable to agree. The jury at his retrial visited 6665 Sunset in October 1931. The first jury had made do with diagrams of the crime scene.

The jury in Dave Clark’s second murder trial visits the scene of the crime, 6665 Sunset Boulevard, as a curious crowd, including children, look on from the sidewalk. George Copeland still had his office here. 10/7/1931. LA Evening Express.

A janitor who worked at the Packard dealership across the street at 6660 Sunset testified for the defense at the second trial that he’d seen Lucille Fisher, Copeland, and a police officer drive off on the day of the murder, and that Fisher had been carrying a gun, wrapped in a bloody towel. This testimony helped clinch Clark’s acquittal, as it bolstered Clark’s self-defense story.

George Copeland, who had to be recalled to the stand to “amend” his own testimony after this witnesses’ testimony, remained at 6665 after the murders. He moved to new quarters in 1932.

2/19/1932. Hollywood Citizen News.

Crawford’s widow, Ella Crawford, had inherited his estate including the Sunset property.

As of May 1935, the dwellings at Crawford Court were still being rented out and lived in.

5/23/1935. Hollywood Citizen News.

Some existing buildings were moved off the property in the Fall of 1935.

One of the Hudson-built bungalows, 6665-1/2 Sunset, was moved to 1537 Westgate Avenue in September 1935. It was demolished there in 1979.

The 6-room dwelling addressed as 6669, built for Amelia Jewett in 1911, was moved off the property in October 1935 and relocated to 1281 West Boulevard between Dockweiler and Pico. The building, though altered, appears to have survived at this location.

1281 West Boulevard, formerly 6669 Sunset Boulevard. Google image.

In November 1935, it was revealed that Ella Crawford was building a complex of offices and stores on the site, to be designed by architect Robert V. Derrah. It would be called Crossroads of the World (also spelled Cross Roads).

11/3/1935. LAT.

Not all of the store and office buildings were newly built, however. The 2-story buildings of “Crawford Court” were remodeled and converted from residential to commercial use. As war clouds gathering over Europe, Crossroads of the World was made to resemble French, Spanish Colonial, Ye Olde English, Italian and other quaint architectural styles. A newly constructed component, in the latest streamline moderne style, was built in the center of the complex, where the Hudson-built bungalows and the teeny “real estate” office used by Crawford, were located. Some of the existing buildings were removed, but not all are accounted for in permits for relocation or demolition, suggesting they too may have been reworked into new appearances.

One of the Hudson bungalows, 6662-1/2 Sunset, was moved to 6115 Corona Avenue in Huntington Park in June 1936. It appears to have survived at this location, with alterations.

6115 Corona Avenue, formerly 6662-1/2 Sunset Boulevard. Google image.

6665 Sunset, the narrow real estate office of Crawford, was moved to 12115 Wilshire Boulevard between Bundy and Amherst drives in September 1936, to be incorporated into an existing beauty shop. A massive high rise office building now occupies this site..

The complex opened in October 1936 with the address 6665 Sunset Bouelvard. That later changed to 6669 and 6691. Businesses in the complex were addressed not as Sunset Boulevard, Slema, or Las Palmas but as such-and-such number, “Cross Roads of the World.”

10/29/1936. LAT.

Crossroads of the World in 1939. LAPL. Burton O. Burt photo.

John MacSoud occupied the front and center shop in the new building fronting Sunset where Crawford’s “real estate” office had been.

10/29/1936. LAT.

Belly up to the ‘Kerchief Bar at John MacSoud’s.

Crossroads of the World. looking north frmo the approximate location of 6666 Sunset. The Church of the Blessed Sacrament looms to the east.

As 6671.

Postcard view of Crossroads of the World near the Selma Avenue side looking south toward Sunset.

Crossroads of the World 1937. LAPL.

The Continental Cafe at Crossroads of the World was located in the streamline moderne center building. It had outdoor seating on the upper deck.

5/5/1937. LAT.

The Barber of Seville at Crossroads of the World.

Guy Santomauro moved across the street and became The Barber of Seville at Crossroads of the World. 10/29/1936. LAT.

The Church of the Blessed Sacrament looms over a Spanish Colonial structure at Crossroads of the World. This could be one of the existing bungalows, reconfigured. LAPL.

Crossroads of the World. LAPL.

Mayfair Fashion Bags at Crossroads of the World. 11/11/1937. Hollywood Citizen News.

Crossroads of the World, looking south toward Sunset Boulevard. The Howard Buick dealership was directly across the street at 6660 Sunset. LAPL.

Quaint buildings at Crossroads of the World. These could be remodeled bungalows. LAPL.

Bit of England at Crossroads of the World c. 1937. There was also Bit of Italy. Bit of Sweden was to have been here but went to larger quarters on the Sunset Strip at 9051 Sunset. LAPL, Herman Schultheis photo.

7/8/1937. Hollywood Citizen News.

Bit of Sweden ended up at 9051 Sunset Strip. 10/29/1936. LAT.

A remodeled bungalow? Crossroads of the World looking north toward Selma Ave. LAPL- Herman Schultheis photo.

The Newest and Most Unique Shopping Center” “12/9/1936. LAT.

1/2/1937. LAT.

With Europe at war, it was hard to keep up the supply of imported goods, and like any other place, small businesses and restaurants came and went. It declined somewhat as a shopping venue and become more office-oriented.

1939 ad.

Detail of 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance Company map for Los Angeles County showing the layout of Crossroads of the World. Compare to the earlier maps, above. LOC.

Today, Crossroads of the World is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

***

Notes

In May 1935, Ella Crawford applied for a permit to move 6665 Sunset to 2900 Crenshaw Boulevard but this apparently did not happen as in September there is another permit to move it to 12115 Wilshire. It does not survive at either location.

 

 

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