• Completed in 1926 on Lot 55 in Tract 3668
  • Original commissioner: department-store executive Benjamin L. Strauss
  • Architect: Clarence J. Smale
  • On December 8, 1925, the Department of Building and Safety issued Benjamin L. Strauss permits for a two-story, 13-room residence and a two-story, 21-by-37-foot garage at 146 North Rossmore Avenue
  • The architect's rendering of 146 North Rossmore Avenue appearing above ran in the Times on February 28, 1926
  • Benjamin Leopold Strauss was a longtime department-store executive when he was sent west from Chicago by the May family of St. Louis, which had acquired Los Angeles's venerable Hamburger's Department Store in March 1923. On July 26, 1924, the Times reported that Strauss, having initially been put in charge of Hamburger's basement store, was being promoted to merchandise manager of the entire operation, which was being rebranded as The May Company of California. Born in Chicago on March 28, 1877, Benjamin Strauss came west with his wife, Etta, and two young daughters. Born Etta Wronski in Chicago on August 3, 1891, Etta had had a brief marriage before tying the knot with Strauss on June 4, 1916. Carolyn arrived on Washington's Birthday in 1917 and Elaine on New Year's Day 1919
  • On July 17, 1930, Benjamin Strauss was issued a permit by the Department of Building and Safety to add "private dressing rooms" to the back yard at 146 North Rossmore, presumably for use by the pool. On March 7, 1932, Strauss was issued a permit to convert a second-floor porch of the house into a dressing room and to cut a new window for a bathroom
  • The Strausses appear to have led a relatively quiet life during their time in Hancock Park, Ben driving downtown to the store daily, Etta attending to club and civic activities. One dramatic moment came when Ben had a sudden attack of appendicitis as he was getting ready for bed on July 14, 1929; he was rushed to Good Samaritan, where he was listed in critical condition following the operation but managed to survive. Carolyn and Elaine attended Los Angeles High School not far away from 146 before deciding to marry young. The Strausses announced the engagement of Elaine to wholesale jewelry salesman John Stich Spear just after her 18th birthday; the couple settled on Comstock Avenue in Westwood. Carolyn married later in 1937, tying the knot with music publisher Arthur Shilkret in November. (His father was Nathaniel Shilkret, the nationally known composer, musician and conductor who'd come to Hollywood in 1935 to work in films.) The marriage was short-lived, with Carolyn marrying a second time in June !939; her groom this time was Chicago physician David H. Rosenberg
  • With an empty nest and he contemplating retirement from the May Company, Ben and Etta Strauss put 146 North Rossmore Avenue on the market almost as soon as Carolyn left with Dr. Rosenberg on her Hawaiian honeymoon. In August 1939 they were advertising the house for sale, "furnished or unfurnished—will sacrifice at less than one-half its value." With the neighborhood still full of residences rendered white elephants by the Depression, the Strausses' house lingered on the market; in ads in March 1940, noting a cocktail room, pool, and barbecue, the price was $125,000, which, at the 2023 rate of $2,700,000, was a respectable valuation but still not attractive with war having broken out in Europe and the U.S. being drawn into support of it. On July 16, 1940, Strauss resigned from his longtime position at The May Company, the Times citing his many merchandising innovations during his tenure. Despite having to wait a long time to unload 235 North Rossmore, the Strausses were planning a move to Westwood to be near Elaine and her husband and their grandson John Spear Jr.

As seen in the Los Angeles Times on August 11, 1936

  • A large display advertisement appeared in the Times on August 24, 1941, by which time 146 North Rossmore Avenue had, per the ad, been "disposed of." Auctioneer Lewis S. Hart was holding a sale of the Strausses' furnishings on the premises over the next two days. Ben and Etta had by this time moved to a rental on Bentley Avenue in Westwood, where they awaited completion of their new house
  • On April 29, 1941, Etta Strauss was issued a permit by the Department of Building and Safety for a seven-room residence with attached garage at 258 Comstock Avenue in Westwood, not far from the house Elaine and John Spear had bought after their marriage
  • Purchasing 146 North Rossmore Avenue in 1941 was Rena B. Borzage, the former vaudeville and film actress, who in January had won a divorce from Hollywood actor turned producer and prolific director Frank Borzage. The couple had been living at 3974 Wilshire Boulevard since 1921. During a party there celebrating their 24th anniversary, Frank, known for his keen sense of romantic drama, walked out of the marriage; it seems that he had put Rena in charge of the family finances and through greed, she had ruined him. Wily when it came to gaining money she didn't earn, Mrs. Borzage wound up with the house on Wilshire Boulevard—which she wished to leave to its commercial development—and funds enough to buy 146 North Rossmore Avenue. She and her mother, Helen Cameron Rogers, moved to Hancock Park, where Rena immediately got into a dispute with a plumber who claimed she had stiffed him for work on both houses. Mrs. Rogers died at 146 on December 15, 1945. (Frank Borzage had married the ex-wife of comedian Red Skelton the month before)
  • 146 North Rossmore Avenue was on the market by January 1948; classifieds touted its pool, bathhouse, and rumpus room over the garage
  • Occupying 146 North Rossmore by the spring of 1950 was food-products manufacturer Jack Carl Hoffman, his wife Hortense, their daughter Penny and sons Richard and Brad, and Mrs. Hoffman's mother, Nellye Holsman. Jack Hoffman had moved his family west from Chicago, where he was associated with the Louis Milani Foods Company; the firm was relocating him to head a west coast manufacturing operation to produce, among other well-known products, Milani 1890 French Dressing. Two of his four brothers, Lawrence and Gerald, were also employed as executives by Milani in Los Angeles
  • 146 North Rossmore Avenue was on the market by March 1955; later that year, the Hoffmans bought 719 North Palm Drive in Beverly Hills, where Jack Hoffman lived until his death in 1966
  • South Dakota–born chemical manufacturer Alfred Dale Chapman and his wife, née Virginia "Tiny" Pond, occupied 146 North Rossmore Avenue from 1956 to 1960. She was a native Angeleno who came into the Chapmans' 1951 marriage with a five-year-old son by her first husband, from whom she'd been divorced a few years earlier. On November 2, 1958, the Sunday Times's Home insert ran an item on the stile the Chapmans had built over a wall at 146 to facilitate visits with a neighbor 
  • Seattle-born William Cunningham Brophy occupied 146 North Rossmore Avenue in the 1960s. He had married the daughter of the president of the Southwestern Portland Cement Company, Frank H. Powell, in November 1946. Gloria Powell had grown up at 70 Fremont Place (a big brick house moved west from Hoover Street in 1931); Bill Brophy became an executive with Southwestern Portland Cement and the couple proceeded to have seven children before divorcing acrimoniously in December 1957, she claiming he drank to excess. Mrs. Brophy got the house at 10840 Bellagio Road in Bel-Air but no alimony, the judge considering her annual private income of $50,000 (more than 10 times that in 2023 dollars). Gloria would proceed to marry and divorce twice more. She married Patrick Lyons De Young a year after her first divorce; in February 1964, he had her—described in the press as a "prominent Montecito woman"—arrested and jailed for drunkenness. De Young went on to marry Marilyn Brant Chandler, Otis Chandler's first wife; Gloria Powell Brophy De Young's third marriage to John F. Baker in 1966 was even shorter than her second. The seven Brophy children appear to have been dragged between the Westside and Montecito, and, once their father bought 146 North Rossmore Avenue, Hancock Park
  • On November 9, 1968, the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram reported that "two teen-age sisters, heiresses to the Southwestern-Portland Cement Co. family fortune, were in custody of juvenile authorities Friday after they refused to return to their socialite mother contending their home was a non-stop "party." Mary Ann and Nancy Brophy had been living with a guardian, the operator of a San Fernando Valley horse operation, for the past two months. The girls accused their mother of "excessive drinking and profanity" and claimed that their home "was constantly in a state of bedlam triggered by a stream of guests and visitors—20 to 30 every day—who packed the house, many of them staying overnight sleeping on the floor." Perhaps their father, having remained single, bought the commodious 146 North Rossmore as a refuge for his children. In September 1966 he held the wedding reception of his niece Elizabeth Anne Berrien at 146
  • Later owners of 146 North Rossmore Avenue, who appear to have included briefly Kevin DuBrow, lead singer of the heavy-metal band Quiet Riot, seem to have made few architectural changes to the property over the last several decades 

Illustrations: LAT