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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Alvarado Neighbors: 402 B

In 402 B was Arvilla Pearl Smuin and her mother and step-father, Martha and Arthur W. Cooley. Arvilla was born 17 April 1901 in Ogden, Utah and worked as a receptionist. Two years after Wm D. Taylor's murder, Arvilla met her future husband at a dance in Santa Monica. He was Goodwin “Goodie” Jess Knight, the 31st Governor of California. Arvilla’s step-father, Arthur, was a chemical expert, a department manager for Dearborn Chemical Company.
When Arvilla was interviewed by the LA Examiner after the murder, she said that she and Arthur were sitting in their living room reading almost the entire evening and they didn’t hear a sound. Their blinds were drawn and had no reason to look outside and hence, they saw no one. She also told the paper, "When I think that such a kind, fine man as Mr. Taylor is said to have been, was right here helpless, at the mercy of a fiendish murderer when some of us might have gone to his aid and saved him, and we only known what was going on. It seems that we all live too much to ourselves and that there ought to be some better mode of communication between us all.

Before Arvilla, Martha, and Arthur moved into 402 B, the apartment was occupied by Irene McNeal Swasey and her son, McNeal. Irene was a socialite belle from Memphis, Tennessee, the daughter of Judge Albert McNeal, and the great-granddaughter of President James K. Polk. Irene married Australian born architect, William Albert Swasey in 1890. William was a distinguished theatre architect. He designed several classic movie theatres including the 44th Street Theatre, Princess Theatre, the Winter Garden Theatre, and Nazimova’s 39th Street Theatre, Nora Byers Theatre, the 48th Street Theatre in New York. McNeal Swasey followed in his dad’s footsteps as an architect, well known as the “master” of period revival style of homes in the early 1920s.

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