inancy

Herman Lentzner’s Entrepreneurial Ventures

An interesting fact regarding Herman Lenzner is that he apparently had no formal education.  (Had he attended a Heder, he would studied not much more than the Tanach in Yiddish). Merrill Bonar has stated that Herman could not read or write in any language nor could he do more than simple arithmetic. The same was true of his sister-in-law, Rose Wyman Rosenbaum. Yet, both Herman and Rose became successful business owners in Los Angeles. Overflowing with charisma and expertise in decision-making, Herman and Rose relied on their employees and partners to handle the mundane aspects of their daily affairs. Merrill Bonar also reported that Herman employed six clerks in his millinery store located in the Theater District of LA.

Several articles and classifieds found in the LA Times Historical Archives and dating from 1926, document Herman Lentzner to be an unusually active business man in booming Los Angeles. His businesses included managing several millinery stores, trading and developing real estate, and owning at least one oil derrick in Huntington Beach.

Exhibit 1a. Extract from an LA Times article of July 31, 1926 regarding an apartment building investment made by Herman on 144 North Westmoreland Avenue in Hollywood. The architect was Leland Bryant who later designed the famous Sunset Tower on Sunset Boulevard.

LentznerBryantBldgArticle.jpg

Los Angeles Times Classifieds, July 31, 1926

Exhibit 1b. Herman’s investment at 144 North Westmoreland photographed by Nancy Bonar Lehrer in 2008. In 1929, an additional investment, the Lentzner Apartments, were located just two doors down from here at 118 North Westmoreland.

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Exhibit 2a. Two articles mentioning Herman’s Hotel Project on Melrose Avenue, which was located on land eventually incorporated into the Paramount Lot: LA Times 1927.

Herman's Hotel- Paramount-LATimes.jpg

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Exhibit 2b. Photograph of the Paramount Lot showing the hotel at 5313 Melrose Avenue: lower right-hand corner next to the parking lot at the end of block.

Herman's Hotel- Paramount Lot.jpg

Exhibit 3a. Information regarding an oil well derrick in Huntington Beach owned by Herman Lentzner which was caught in a storm. Extracted from an extensive LA Times article of November 23, 1930.

oilwellarticle.jpg

Exhibit 3b. Oil Derricks at Huntington Beach

Oil Wells Huntington Beach.jpg

Exhibit 3c. Herman (with headgear), Tillie, Margie Steinman, Oil Well.

New Discoveries_0028

Exhibit 4a. Article regarding the lease taken by Herman on his second store in Hollywood, this one on the southwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Cherokee Avenue. Note that the $50,000 five-year lease was taken during the depths of the Great Depression. LA Times: 1933.

HLetznerLATimes1933.jpg

Exhibit 4b. Photograph taken by Nancy Bonar Lehrer in 2008 of the Shane Building on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Cherokee Avenue where Herman opened his second Hollywood Store on the ground floor, and where both the Screen Actors Guild and Screen Writers Guild occupied offices on upper floors:

SAGBldg.jpg

Exhibit 5a. Maximes, was one of LA’s most fabulous millinery stores, but during the Great Depression it fell on hard times and went out of business. LA Public Library Collection 1938

Maximes.jpg

Exhibit 5b. This clipping from the LA Times on July 2, 1939 advertises the bankruptcy auction for the contents of Maximes. Herman Lentzner leased the ground floor of this Broadway icon sometime after these proceedings were completed.

Maximes Bankruptcy Classified.jpg

Exhibit 5c. The building at 519 S. Broadway which once housed the entirety of the high-end millinery store, Maximes. It was here that Herman utilized the ground floor for his own millinery business in the 1940s. Photo by Nancy Lehrer 2008.

Prior to the purchase of Maximes, Herman had a millinery store at 453 S. Broadway known as Broadway Millinery. In 1936 the following women were employees there: Ruby McWethey, Mrs. Marjorie M. Schauer, Lulu Hormann, and Helen A. Stewart, the latter of whom is listed in the LA Directory of that year as Herman’s bookkeeper.

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Herman’s store: Broadway Millinery, 519 South Broadway, Los Angeles

Exhibit 5d. Now D & D Bridal, this was once the storefront of Herman’s millinery business in the Theater District of LA. Merrill Bonar states that he visited his Uncle Herman here on several occasions during the 1940s, and that Herman often took him to lunch at a Clifton’s Cafeteria on Hill Street behind the millinery store.

The cafeteria mentioned by Merrill at 530 South Hill Street is designated Boos Bros Cafeteria in the 1942 LA Directory.  With the onset of the Depression, two of the Boos Brothers cafeterias had been sold to Clifford E. Clinton, who launched the Clifton’s chain, and at some point Henry Boos bought back two that had been sold, one on Hill Street and the other in Avalon on Catalina Island. So, apparently, folks continued to call the one on Hill Street, Cliftons, even though it was once again a Boos Bros Cafeteria.

Photograph by Nancy Lehrer 2008.

0802-hollywood-IMG_3226-Edit.jpg

Exhibits 6a & b. Documents remaining from Herman’s estate include a letter written to Rep. John F. Dockweiler on Herman’s behalf by William Francis Connor, the latter being one of Herman’s accountants. Written on June 15, 1938, that is, about a year before the Maximes deal, it tells us something about Herman’s character and his handling of his personal assets.

This same letter deals with a very serious situation, namely the extrication of Herman’s niece, Zysla Frymorgen (Esther Kalkopf’s half-sister), from Sosnowiec, Poland. The bill sent to Herman by Connor on December 31, 1938 for services rendered in resolving the matter is, therefore,  presented first, in order that the reader might observe Connor’s expert handling of a most-sensitive immigration plan, which was finally put into motion just 8 months before Hitler invaded Poland (i.e. August 31, 1939).

Letter fror Herman Lentzner02.jpg

SOSNOWIEC

The location of Sosnowiec, Poland (lower left-hand corner) in relation to Szczekociny, Herman’s birthplace (‘A’).

Letter fror Herman Lentzner01.jpg


Michael McTeer reported the following re William Francis Connor: “If I have not mentioned previously regarding William Francis CONNOR, the ‘accountant’ Herman used to write the letters – his wife was Ida M. McNamara. Her sister was Anna B. McNamara of 4321 8th Ave. Los Angeles. In 1942 Anna was a saleswoman for Herman LENTZNER according to the LA directory. “

Exhibit 7. Real Estate Trading formed an integral part of Herman Lentzner’s business undertakings. Merrill Bonar has reported that his “Uncle Herman never held onto anything”. The following is an ad appearing in the classifieds of the LA Times on July 29, 1927.  Perhaps Herman, himself, sent or called it in to the Times, but Merrill believes that this was unlikely since, not only could Herman neither read nor write, but his rough manner of speaking would have precluded him from making clear what he wanted over the phone.

The ad is remarkable because it allows us to obtain an inside view of a deal: it would appear that a client has come to Herman who wants to purchase a large home to be used as a hospital. In order to obtain such a structure, Herman will trade a bungalow court for it. But who owns the bungalow court, the client or Herman? Has the client himself already traded other real estate to get the bungalow court? Is the client a doctor who will be living and working in the home, or just another clever real-estate trader accumulating structures he knows will be needed down the road? And what will Herman charge him? (5th ad from top).

Herman Lentzner-Real Estate Trade.jpg

Exhibit 8a. One of the two homes on adjoining lots owned by Herman Lentzner in Los Feliz. Photograph taken by Nancy Bonar Lehrer in 2008.

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Exhibit 8b. Photograph of Merrill and Sandy Bonar’s children, Nancy and Jeffrey, c. 1963 taken inside the home owned by Herman Lentzner which is pictured above.

Bonar kids at Uncle Herman's home

Exhibit 8c. Folks sitting in the courtyard at the Lentzner Home.

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l-r: Rose Wyman Rosenbaum, (between two unidentified women) Jake Wyman, Tillie Wyman Lentzner, and Blanche Blatt Wyman. Sam Rosenbaum, Rose’s husband, is in the background.

Tillie Lentzner

Tillie Lentzner: announcement of her interment. LA Times, December 12, 1969

Tillie Wyman Lentzner:  Will of July 11, 1964

Tillie died December 11, 1969; her will admitted to probate February 5, 1970

September 7, 1971: sale of properties began

Final distribution: September 11, 1980
Executor of the Will: Eugene Wyman (to Marvin Finell when Eugene Wyman died, and thence to Frank Rothman)

Distribution

1)    Amount unknown: Debts and expenses for final illness including funeral.

2)    $10,000 to Yetta Wiman Fetterman, widow. (daughter of Tillie’s deceased, brother Jacob Wiman

3)    $10,000 to Jeanette Morris, widow. (daughter of Tillie’s deceased, brother Jacob Wiman

4)    10% of distributable estate: Amount unknown to Rose Wyman Rosenbaum, Tillie’s sister (died May 17, 1978)

a. But $21,000 was given to the 3 Bonar children (Jeff, Janis, and Nancy) by Aunt Rose. Nancy reports that her $7000.00 (in a CD) accrued $3000.00 interest by the time she began to spend it for college.

5)    10% of distributable estate: Amount unknown to Margie Steinman (Gruenberg, Banarsky-Bonar) Kaitz, Tillie’s half-sister (died 1966)

a. Because she died before Tillie, Margie’s bequeathment reverted to Merrill Gruenberg-Bonar and his half-brother Donald Banarsky-Bonar

6)    $50,000 to Louis Wyman, son of Tillie’s cousin Jacob Wyman (his wife was Blanche Blatt)

7)    $15,000 to Steve Korn, son of Belle Wyman Korn, daughter of cousin Jacob Wyman

8)    $15,000 to Donald Korn, son of Belle Wyman Korn, daughter of cousin Jacob Wyman

9)    $15,000 Betty Lynn Wyman, daughter of Eugene Wyman, son of her cousin Abraham Wyman

10) $15,000 Robert Alan Wyman, son of Eugene Wyman, son of her cousin Abraham Wyman

11) $15,000 Brad Hibbs Wyman, son of Eugene Wyman, son of her cousin Abraham Wyman

12) Remainder: $181,106.07 on September 11, 1980 to Tillie and Herman Lentzner Charitable Trust

a.     (if Trust becomes invalid: the full amount should be equally distributed to Rose Wyman Rosenbaum, Margie Steinman (Gruenberg, Banarsky-Bonar) Kaitz, (ie Merrill Gruenberg-Bonar and his half-brother Donald Banarsky-Bonar) and Louis Wyman.

i.     Trustee: Belle Wyman Korn

II. Trustee: Eugene Wyman (died January 19, 1973)

1.     Reverted to senior member of Wyman, Finell & Rothman

a.     Reverted to senior member of Wyman, Bautzer, Rothman & Kuchel

i.     Reverted to senior member of Wyman, Bautzer, Frank Rothman, Kuchel & Silbert

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  1. Exhibits 6a & 6b are actually from the collection of Herman’s niece, the late Zylsa (Sylvia) FRYMORGEN in possession of her family regarding her immigration. It appears it took the family almost two years if not longer of effort to arrange for her immigration form Sosnowiec. Most of the KALKOPF/LENCZNERs came over individually.

    Where the papers of Herman and Tillie (WYMAN) LENTZNER are if they survived would be the question. Both had relatives who were victims of the Holocaust as well as their efforts and involving with the immigration of other relatives.

    Michael McTeer

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