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8. Gillis house, 1905 8. Gillis house, 1905
406 Adelaide Dr.
Architect: Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey

Gillis House, 1905 - 406 Adelaide Drive
photo by Michael Grandcolas

Front view
photo by Michael Grandcolas

Window detail
photo by Michael Grandcolas

Another view
photo by Michael Grandcolas

The artwork of architect Elmer Grey

Wattles Mansion and Gardens - architectural work of Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey


1301 Palisades Beach Road, 1267

If you’re interested in the history of coastal Los Angeles, you should know the name Robert Gillis. Gillis owned the Santa Monica Land and Water Co. and bought thousands of acres in the Palisades in the early 20th century.

Adelaide Drive, arguably one of the nicest streets in Santa Monica, is named after Gillis’ daughter. This drive at the north end of the city features majestic canyon views. Since the turn of the 20th Century, this street has attracted numerous prominent southern Californians. It’s where the Kennedys would live.

In the early 20th century Gillis had controlling interest in Rancho San Vicente - approximately 48,000 between the ocean and Sepulveda Blvd. The land went from the Spanish Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica, a Spanish land grant made by Juan Alvarado, Governor of the Californias, to Francisco Sepulveda in 1839. It later passed through the hands of Robert S. Baker, founder of Bakersfield whose partner, John Percival Jones, formed the Santa Monica Land & Water Company in 1904.

Anticipating a land boom, as Santa Monica became an increasingly popular vacation area for Angelinos, Gillis and the Santa Monica Land Company then procured the land. In 1920, that land was valued at $65,000 for 260 acres.
406 Adelaide Drive is where Gillis staked out his territory and set up home.

This Craftsman residence was designed by architects Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey, associates of the prominent Pasadena architecture firm that designed the Huntington Library.

Elmer Grey (1872-1963) was born in Chicago, educated in Milwaukee public schools and served a three-year apprenticeship to local architects Ferry & Clas. By 1904 he had settled in the Pasadena architecture firm with Myron Hunt. They designed Pasadena's Polytechnic Elementary School and the Huntington Art Gallery in San Marino. Originally the residence of Henry E. Huntington (1850-1927), the building (?? what building are we referring to here, the Huntington residence in Pasadena or the Adelaide property) was designed by Los Angeles architects Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey. It was built during the years 1909-1911. Most of the interiors are modeled on French and English rooms of the 18th century. The craftsmanship and design in the interiors are of outstanding quality, and the rooms provide a worthy setting for the collection.

In 1923, Alphonso Bell, who developed Bel Air, formed the Los Angeles Mountain Park Company and bought 22,000 acres from Gillis, some of which were leased to Japanese truck farmers. In 1926, Gillis sold the majority of the canyon to the Garden Land Company, which, to encourage sales of its subdivided land, planted a large botanical garden, complete with scenic ponds and exotic trees.