Los Angeles County
His father was Richard Letts, a farmer and the eldest son of a Richard Letts, the same name having been bestowed on the eldest son for nine generations. The farm was held by a Richard Letts four hundred years ago.
Until 1874, when he was twelve years old, he attended classes at Rev. Hedges’ private school for boys, located near his home. The next three years he spent at the Creaton Grammar School, England. He finished his book education under a private coach, a Mr. Meredith.
At the age of sixteen he was “articled,” the English term for apprenticed, to a good man, proprietor of a dry goods store in a small and bustling town of the neighborhood. He served his time with credit, and for the fourth year was engaged at a salary.
But he did not
long remain in this position. His
imagination, and also that of his elder brother, had become fired with the word
of the opportunities open to the young man in the new world
When the Reil rebellion broke out in the Northwest of Canada, he
volunteered, eager for a taste of outdoor life and the contact with the
wilderness. His position in
In the early
nineties he went to
But he was not
satisfied with results in
With the help of an influential friend, who was impressed with Mr. Letts’ knowledge of the business, a loan of $5000 was secured from the Los Angeles National Bank. This amount was used as the first payment for the bankrupt stock, the balance to be paid in thirty days. He gave the business the name of the Broadway Department Store, and opened its doors February 24, 1896. At the end of the first week the adjoining store caught fire and the stock of the new department store was seriously damaged by fire. With the insurance money of $1000 the undiscouraged Mr. Letts began business again.
Then followed a growth more phenomenal than the growth of the city. By 1899 the Broadway occupied the entire
ground floor of the Pirtle & Hallet
building. In 1901, the adjoining Hellman
building was bought; in 1905 the upper floors of the Pirtle
& Hallet building were acquired, and in the
ensuing year the Slauson building, adjoining the
Hellman. The stock and trade of the store are now among the largest on the
He has always
been interested in education and in the welfare of young people. In his own store he has maintained a school
for the younger employes (sic). He has been a liberal giver to the Los
Angeles Y. M. C. A., which now has one of the finest buildings in
his chief hobby. His home, Holmby House,
His business interests and property holdings outside of the Broadway Department Store are known to be heavy, but he prefers to keep his name out of the directorates of other concerns.
He is a member of
the California Club, Los Angeles Country Club, Automobile Club, Los Angeles
Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles Realty Board, Municipal League, Hollywood Board
of Trade, Federation Club, all of
Transcribed 6-25-08 Marilyn R. Pankey.
Source: Press Reference Library, Western Edition Notables of the West, Vol. I, Page 81, International News Service, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta. 1913.
© 2008 Marilyn R. Pankey.