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Man Finds Wall, Man Takes Photos of It

December 31, 2008
There It Is!

There It Is!

After nearly a week of doing the Highland Park Photo Survey for 2008, I finally found the very hidden Hermon Car Wall. It was the first thing I set out to document, and everyday I kept returning to the general area to only come within a few feet, and miss it. Some background:

The Hermon Car Wall as it is called, was created as a retaining wall by property owner Albert Emmanuel Sederquist in the 1930′s and 1940′s. He used bricks salvaged from a schoolhouse that was demolished after the Long Beach Earthquake of ’33, and car parts from the 1920′s that he embedded in concrete. He also embedded unique stones that he collected. Sederquist never lived on the property, but instead camped there at what he called The Dugout, and used it as a get-a-way to go hunting in the area where Deb’s Park is now. Sederquist died in 1959, the property was sold, and houses were built in front of the wall in 1960. The wall itself reminds me of something Antonio Gaudi, Simon Rodia, or Noah Purifoy would have built. A fine example of Folk Art.

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I kept looking at the address, one document said 400 block of Terrill, while another said 400 block of Pullman, which according to Google Maps puts it over on the other side of Monterey Road. The area of Pullman on the East side of Monterey Road seemed plausible. There was an empty lot there where a development of some sort stood, and a collapsing concrete wall that sounded somewhat like the current description of the fabled Car Wall. But the field that was guarded by the loose dogs of Pullman Street, didn’t show any signs of having auto parts, bricks, or stones embedded in them –just concrete.

I looked at satellite photos, studied maps and descriptions, drove, biked, hiked up and down nearby streets, walked up and down stairways, climbed hills, crawled through brush, discovered other  long forgotten hidden developments along what is called Bobcat Hill in Debs Park, but no sighting of the fabled monumental wall, until today. The most detailed information came from the proposal for monument status by local historian Charles Fisher, on behalf of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council. (Sadly, that proposal was rejected by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission. It was initially rejected, but now is one of LA’s newest landmarks, and will be protected and restored. See Hermonite’s comment.) At first, I only read the first couple of pages of the proposal, before I made to the later half of the proposal with more than just an undefined street number, but a map!

Looking at the map, I could see that I had walked right above the wall along the Pullman stairway, and driven past the driveway that led to the wall. The problem was I was looking over it, and didn’t realize what I thought was a private driveway, actually led to an alleyway that was originally the 400 block of Pullman Street before 1960. The key to finding the wall, is going up the driveway that shoots off from the 400 block of Terrill Avenue, between Monterey Road and Bushnell Way, in beautiful Hermon, California 90042.

This dalmation (as they are known to do) barked his head off the whole time I was there. I would have thought the owners would have quieted him when they came home. But no, they let him keep barking...

Beware of Dog: This Dalmation barked his head off (as they are known to do) the whole time I was there. I would have thought the owners would have quieted him when they came home. But no, they let him keep barking...

So far, this was my favorite find on the survey. With one day to go, I have a lot to shoot. I set about this self-imposed assignment, thinking that doing it over a week I could be more productive. Now that the week, and the year for that matter, is almost over I find myself missing a lots of things I wanted to document this year. Hopefully after editing over the next week, I’ll have some good footage to share.

Remember tomorrow, Wednesday, December 31 is the last day of the survey, and I’ll have some Highland Park prizes at Cafe de Leche at 3pm for those that filled in their Highland Park Bingo cards. See you then!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2008 6:45 pm

    dang, i must have just missed you! i arrived @ 4pm and the folks told me the guy with the bingo cards had left already. ah, well. my photos coming soon to the flickr group, once i separate the crappy from the crappier.

    happy new year, walt. thanks for this opportunity. i definitely learned a lot, particularly that people in highland park get mighty suspicious when you whip out a camera.

  2. January 20, 2009 3:11 pm

    Great post. A hidden treasure that I may try looking for myself. Thanks for the where and whats in finding it. I’ve seen something similar in a park on Dunsmore Ave north of the freeway in La Cresenta.

  3. February 4, 2009 12:12 pm

    Disgraced Police Chief Daryle Gates lived in one of those condominiums.

  4. February 8, 2009 1:25 am

    That would make sense. He’s from Highland Park. One of the places I didn’t get around to taking a photo of was the former Franklin Theater on Figueroa and Avenue 55. That is where Gates was arrested as a juvenile delinquent.

  5. Hermonite permalink
    February 9, 2009 11:09 am

    Just to update a bit (and sorry, correct) the Old Hermon Car Wall DID indeed become an official L.A. Historic Cultural Monument in recent weeks. Originally the Historic Resources department of L.A. advised against it late last year (which is probably what you picked up on earlier) — mostly because of the decay caused by major rains a few years ago and it’s going to take some $$ to rebuild it — which is our next mission here. BUT, overwhelming community support, some funding from our local City-certified neighborhood council (Arroyo Seco NC), and expert testimony from people like HP historian Charles Fisher swayed the day. The City Council’s Planning & Land Use Committee approved it last month, and the full Council did also just a week or so ago. Maybe the most unique aspect of this is that it has now become only the second “folk art” HC monument still standing in L.A. – the only other is the Watts Towers.

    This is the 3rd HCM designation in our very small (pop. ~3,000) distinct NE community, following the Monterey Trailer Park and the Hodel Teahouse and Residence — both at the north end of Monterey, near S. Pasadena.

    ALSO, on another topic I think you posted about this time last year — you may have heard the MTA is proposing once again to cancel the 256 busline through El Sereno, Hermon, Highland Park, etc. The public hearing on it is tonight.

    Joseph Riser – Arroyo Seco NC/Hermon Rep.

    P.S. Any other topics come up about Hermon, please ask. We’re a unique 106-year-old community absorbed into L.A. in 1912.

  6. February 9, 2009 4:52 pm

    I’ve never seen this wall and have lived in Highland Park all of my life. I will have to plan a day to hunt it down.

  7. February 11, 2009 12:30 pm

    Hermonite, Thank you for the wonderful news!

    Every time I pass what I could consider a less distinctive monument: L.A.H.C.M. #211, I would frustratingly think of the Hermon Car Wall and its monument rejection.

    Like many people from Altadena to the City of Commerce, I too love the 256.

  8. February 15, 2009 9:46 am

    So Great to see interest in this piece of work. Mr. Sederquist was my Mother’s Uncle and stories of his eccentric nature abound within the family, e.g. he believed cars had souls. My mother remembers seeing the wall as a child. She tells me he collected rocks from Death Valley. His journals and other writings are in a repository in Sacramento. This wall reminds me of Gaudi, too. Very cool.

  9. Hermonite permalink
    March 17, 2009 6:21 pm

    EIC — that’s very interesting. Any chance you’d be willing to pass along a means to contact someone about that “repository” in Sacramento?

    One of the things we have to deal with next, re: the City and the long term prospects for this “monument” staying around is to find some money for restoration, either from public sources (tough right now), or private historic preservation funds, and being able to access some other background on the creator and the work at the wall could help.

    If so, please e-mail any info to: JosephR@mindspring.com

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