849 North Alfred Street in West Hollywood

The Old House on 849 North Alfred Street

The house on 849 North Alfred Street, where I partially grew up, is no more. According to brother Nick, it’s been torn down, demolished, and removed. A tiny part of me was saddened by the news. That’s to be expected, I suppose. But for the most part, I feel nothing, zilch, zero.

The house on 849 North Alfred Street was one of several homes I lived in during my first years, including stints in Sweden, and as I recall it, it was the first place my parents didn’t rent. For the most part, it was me, my mother, my brother Tyko and two consecutive dogs, first Coco and then Todo, that lived in the house on Alfred. In 1977, we moved about a block east to a smaller house at 842 Croft Avenue.

My father lived in the house on Alfred too, but not longer than a couple of years after we had moved in. Sometime in 1969, my father became romantically involved with a younger woman who had rented one of our house’s upstairs apartments and moved out with her in tow.

Now, among those few positive memories I retain from 849 North Alfred Street is when my grandmother Agnes flew over from Sweden. She was a sweet, simple woman with a huge heart, and having her over for a month on two, possibly on three separate occasions, if memory serves me correctly, was a tremendous treat for me. Not only was Agnes always kind and soft-spoken, but her presence also provided me with some well-needed respite from being blamed for my father abandoning the family and the wide wake of anger that possessed my mother until she died in 1978.

My grandfather Eskil also came to visit once or maybe twice while we were living on Alfred. But he and I never connected much. He was an OG, Old School kinda guy who was craggy, coarse, and tough as nails. Just getting him to board a plane must have been an Olympic feat.

I walked by Alfred during my latest visit to L.A. last October and barely recognized the house. The picture above is from 1987, or about a decade after we had moved out. It clearly shows how the house’s exterior was in shambles at the time and in much, much worse shape than when we lived there (1967-1977).

When I saw the old house last year, there was a television crew filming some show across the street and several unmarked semis lined the empty sidewalks on both Alfred and the alley behind. So I never took a picture of the house. But as the building looked like it was in pretty good shape, I was a bit surprised to hear that it had been torn down. Then again, it was probably over 75 years old and likely cheaper to demolish to make way for a new condo complex than restore.

C’est la vie.