Vista Del Mar popped up in 1923, when Harold Charles “H. C.” Seymour (1885-1931) resubdivided part of The Palms at the northeast corner of Overland Avenue and Mentone Avenue/National Boulevard. (Mentone Avenue would be renamed National Boulevard on March 30, 1925.) Seymour, who had been a salesman for Culver City’s namesake developer Harry Culver, also developed the Castle Heights subdivision. (See the Castle Heights page for more about Mr. Seymour.) The name “Vista Del Mar” was likely inspired by Winship’s Vista del Mar (1898), which was between Mr. Seymour’s Castle Heights home and this new development. In the early 1960s, Seymour’s Vista Del Mar was mostly demolished for construction of the Santa Monica Freeway. (Winship’s Vista del Mar lost much less.) Despite the name – Spanish for “sea view” – it is doubtful one could see the Pacific Ocean from either Vista del Mar.
When the “Vista Del Mar” subdivision was recorded at the end of 1923 (two months after the “Big Free Barbecue” in the advertisement above) several residential tracts today collectively called Cheviot Hills were being built out. Castle Heights (1922), Country Club Highlands (1923), Cheviot Hills (1923), and Monte-Mar Vista (1924).
Vista Del Mar Tract Fills In
At Vista Del Mar’s southeast corner (in the bottom center of the above photo) was a Mobil gas station, built in 1959 at 10611 National (on lots 40, 41 & 42). Immediately to its right, across the alley, was Rancho Park Nursery School (a co-op) which, on May 3, 1948, had opened in a house built in 1945 (on lots 45 & 46) at the corner of Dunleer Place. The school remained at 10605 National Boulevard until at least July 1965. In 1970, Mobil Oil expanded the gas station: it got a demolition permit for 10605 National on July 13, 1970, then resubdivided the area, including the vacated alleys, as tract 22139 on October 29, 1970.
Obliterated for Freeway
The route of this section of the Santa Monica Freeway (then called the Olympic Freeway) was announced as early as 1955, setting off battles concerning what homes and other buildings would be removed to make way. California Assemblymember Thomas Mankell “Tom” Rees (1925-2003) unsuccessfully fought against the freeway:
Three multi-family dwellings cover the only remaining residential lots in the Vista Del Mar subdivision. In the tract’s southeast corner, lots 55 and 56 hold 3189 Cheviot Vista Place (permitted in 1963, when the freeway was being built). Lot 66 holds a single building, erected in 1953, with several addresses: 10577 National Boulevard and 3184, 3186, 3188, and 3190 Cheviot Vista Place. And 10571 National Boulevard (built in 1950) is on lot 67. One (shortened and renamed in 1965) street remains from the tract: Cheviot Vista Place, which was originally laid out as Mentone Place. The “Vista” in the street name is more likely an effort to leverage Cheviot Hills’ prestige than a nod to the tract’s Vista Del Mar moniker, since the tract name was likely long forgotten before the freeway led to its demise. In those 40 years between its development and its demolition, the subdivision name never appeared in the newspapers.