Hollywood Blog

Death Calls H. J. Whitley Real Estate Man, "Father Of Hollywood"

H. J. whitley, pioneer California real estate man and known as the "Father of Hollywood." died yesterday at the age of 83 years and after an illness of more than a year. Mr. Whitley died during his sleep while staying as a guest of his son Ross Whitley at the Whitley Park Country Club in Van Nuys.

A long career as a real-estate broker started with Mr. Whitley's employment as a land agent for the Rock Island Raiload when he was sent into Oklahoma during the time of the opening of the Cherokee Strip. He held a similar post with the Great Northern Railroad and in 1894, when his health broke he came to California and first engaged in the jewelry business in Los Angeles.


His first development here was on a 400-acre tract in what is now Hollywood, which he turned from a district of vegetable gardens and farms into a valuable residential district. As the result of the success of the subdivision, one of the first in Hollywood, Mr. Whitley became known as the "Father of Hollywood."

During 1905 Mr. Whitley in company with a group of Los Angeles business men undertook the developemtn of 47,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley and carried through a similar porject involving nearly 50,000 acres in the San Fernando Valley. Both districts are now covered with fertile farms.

Mr. Whitley continued his activity in Southern California property until 1922, when he completed the development of his Whitley Heights which was known as one of the first hillside subdivision in Hollywood. The opening of the tract in 1920 was the scene of a public barbecue, with city officials and businessmen men of the city as guests.

In addition to his work in real estate development, Mr. Whitley was known as one of the founders of the Home Savings Bank and was as well identified with the organization of the First National Bank of Van Nuys and State banks in Owensmouth (now Canoga Park) Reseda and Corcoran.

Mr. Whitley leaves his widow, Mrs. Margaret Whitley, who lives at the family residence, 6643 Whitley Terrace: his son, Ross E. Whitley of Van Nuys: a daughter, Grace Virginia Whitley, and three grandchildren.

Los Angeles Times June 4, 1931