Monsignor O’Brien House, Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument #861
Built: 1924 Declared: 02/06/2007
Built in 1924-1925, this Mediterranean and Spanish Revival style house is the work of architect Clarence J. Smale, an IAI member, who also designed the Smith House at Second Street and Hudson Avenue. The house was featured in “An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles,” by Gebhard and Winter, and was described as “a rare concrete art deco house.” Smale also designed numerous movie palaces, most of which have been demolished.
Though he did not build the house, Monsignor O’Brien resided in the house for many decades. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1922 at the age of seven. He attended St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park and after completing his training, transferred back to Los Angeles. He earned several degrees at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., then returned to Los Angeles to serve on the Archdiocesan Matrimonial Tribunal. He served more than 30 years in the chancery office as vice-chancellor, secretary of contracts and real estate, and in 1973 was appointed judge in the St. Maron Diocesan Tribunal. In 1960 he was named a papal chamberlain (monsignor), and in 1975, was elevated to a prelate of honor. He died at the age of 84 in Los Angeles.