On June 15, 1915 the front door of the Hotel Clayton (a.k.a. Lorraine and Central) was wrenched open by crowbar and axe, wielded by the LAPD and the DA. Under the new Red Light Abatement Act, 17 men and 8 women were seized. The 75 year-old madam, Mrs. Florance Chaney, was held on bond totaling $7,000, $2000 for contributing to the delinquency of her 16 year-old granddaughter.
W.C. Becker and A.S. Ross of the Nick Harris Detective Agency were choking down sandwiches, claiming to be in the middle of their own investigation. An attorney named Chauncey Gardner, a naked man named Jones, and several other gentlemen named Smith and Jones were captured.
All were hauled in front of Judge Fredrickson, bailed out to the tune of $50 a piece after pleading not guilty. Mrs. Chaney was held behind bars for the statutory charges and the detectives released on their own recognizance.
On May 3, 1914, in the same room where ex-deputy sherriff and cafe owner Claude Mathewson had just put 2 bullets in his lovely new wife and then one in himself, Howard C. Galloupe committed a less grisly act. The second vice-president of a real estate corporation called Home Builders was arrested in the company of his private secretary, Miss Jeanette Stortz. They were booked at Central Police Station for violation of the Rooming House Ordinance. (L.A. Times)
The arrest followed Galloupe’s sensational corporate rise, finding the terminated salesman promoted to vice president after a corporate shakeup. He immediately chose Miss Stortz to be in charge of all the female employees. Agents for Home Builders became suspicious of their relationship, snitched to the prosecutor, sealing the fate of the boss and his lovely stenographer.
Some considered the site at 310 Clayton Street to be cursed. Before the hotel’s erection, lady gagging burglars invaded the then double home. The former madam of the hotel Mrs. Chaney testified in a trial regarding the murder of senator’s daughter Maud Kennedy in 1916, alleging Percy Tugwell hadn’t killed her, she’d committed suicide after being threatened by boxer Louis “Cyclone” Thompson. Mrs. Chaney’s reputation was subsequently damaged.
In addition to murder, suicides, a hotel patron vanishing and then materialized a week later beaten to a bloody pulp and a young USC student, nearly lost his arm, the mishaps continued. One night the hotel nearly destroyed itself via explosion. The boiler blew itself to pieces, obliterating plaster, doors and windows on the first 3 floors. Manager William Ogawa said the boilers had quit and he’d personally shut the gas off days before, checking again that evening.
10 years later, the CRA swung the wrecking ball, the hotel meeting the same fate as the Majestic and the Auditorium. But in 2001, the newly relocated Angel’s Flight funicular snapped a cable, killing one elderly gentleman aboard. The location? The former Hotel Central, 310 Clay Street. (onebunkerhill.com)