Morrell House Tour

Jonathan Edwards (Ed) Morrell was born December 6, 1878 in Johnson City, Tennessee. He was the son of John Wesley Morrell (born March 12, 1848 and died March 22, 1899) and Elizabeth Annie Edwards (born 1852 in Tennessee and died in the 1930’s). Ed Morrell married Alice (Allie) McPhaul (born February 18, 1875 in Guadalupe, California) on December 19, 1901 in Guadalupe, California at the home of Allie McPhaul.

Their son, Lyman, was born December 13, 1903 in a small cottage in Redondo Beach just a block north of their Catalina home that was moved to Heritage Court in Dominquez Park in 1989. He died in 1936. Daughter Velma was born January 16, 1906 and died after her 100th birthday on May 2, 2006 in Santa Barbara, California. The family did not move into the Morrell House until after Velma was born.

Lyman and Velma both graduated from Redondo Union High School. Velma was class valedictorian in the class of 1923 and graduated from college in 1927. Lyman owned a hardware store in Redondo Beach. Ed and Allie Morrell moved to Monrovia around 1933 to be near Lyman. He was in the Pottingers Sanitarium for tuberculosis. They rented their home to two teachers, Rachel DeNick and Aileen Hammond, who taught at Redondo Union High School. They moved back to their home on Catalina when they thought Lyman was doing better. There was a downstairs apartment added to the back of the house for Lyman because of the tuberculosis.

Sun Parlor: 
Ed put a door from the parlor to the kitchen to avoid having to walk all the way around to answer the door. It had Wilton carpet with a narrow border of wood earth tones. All floors were wood plank. The tiny closet behind the front door was for overcoats. The windows had shades and sheer netting. The davenport sat on the north wall under the window and had a tweedy with tan and brown upholstery. It seated three and had flat wood arms. You could see the entire wood frame. There was a mahogany cabinet with china dishes and a hall tree.

Living Room: 
It also had Wilton carpet with border in blues and went to within one foot of the walls. There was a player piano on the north wall near the toy closet. The toy closet had a doll buggy, table, glass dishes and games. There was a black desk facing west on the wall between the pocket door and south wall. It had a pull down front for writing, one drawer and chair. The phone sat on the mantel. The living room had a black mantel clock. The built in book case was full of books, Bobsey Twins, William S. Hart and a domino set. There was also a stereoptica with cards on the shelf.

Stairway: 
The stairway from the parlor had a deep forest green runner with brass holders. The stairway from the dining room did not have carpet. At the top of the stairs there was a big round light, about 9″ diameter round ball.

Dining Room: 
There was a black wood table with a massive pedestal and four legs, two matching armchairs that sat in the corners of the dining room, four side chairs with dark leather seats. The plate rail had hand painted plates with flowers and scenes are around the room. There was a carpet on floor. A set of Havilland china was in the cabinet. There was a silver plate coffee pot and tea set on the side board. A linen Damask tablecloth was on the table.

Kitchen: 
The kitchen had a small wooden icebox until the late 1920’s when they won an electric refrigerator. The original stove was a wood burner on the east wall that was later replaced with a gas stove with a hood. The iron and ironing board were in the kitchen. Ed had to have bacon, eggs and biscuits every morning. There was an oil cloth table cover on this table during the day and a cloth cover put on for meals. A cast iron skillet always sat on the stove.

Hallway Upstairs: 
There were pictures of Velma’s great grandmother and grandfather. They were in 2′ by 3′ oval frames that went from the waist up (one in each picture) and the hung on the east wall and a 2′ by 3′ oval filigree framed mirror. There was a mahogany shelf at the top of the stairs filled with Velma’s dolls. The upstairs bathroom had a wooden wall hung toilet tank. There was a white porcelain sink, bathtub and linoleum on the floors.

The fireplace was used more in the master bedroom than the one in the living room.
Ed was a hunter. He and Mr. Steele bought a cabin in Tehachapi. Ed belonged to the Redondo Beach Rifle Club. Allie was very active in church activities and belonged to the Baptist Church in Redondo Beach. Lyman made the cedar chest in the Industrial Arts Class at Redondo Union High School that Velma donated to the Redondo Beach Historical Society to put back in the house. Allie made the afghan that was in the master bedroom and Velma also donated it to the Redondo Beach Historical Society. The telephone was in the master bedroom closet. It was concealed there because it was installed by Ed’s brother-in-law, George Temple, who was the District Manager of Home Telephone.

In 1994 the lease was up on the mountain house which had Velma’s bedroom set. It is a birdseye maple set with a double bed, dresser with mirror and chest of drawers. She donated this set to the Redondo Beach Historical Society in 1994 and it is on display in the master bedroom. She also donated several chairs, braided rugs, couch, lawyer’s bookcase and family photos, which are all on display at the Morrell House.

There was a barn on the right side of the back yard. There was a clothesline on the left side of the yard. They raised chickens for food and eggs. They had a cow and kept it at the mill works plant. Ed brought home fresh milk daily.

The Morrell House was rented out from the time Ed and Allie moved to Santa Barbara in 1956. The house deteriorated over the next thirty years until it came close to the wrecking ball. In 1988 the Redondo Beach Historical Society started working with the owner of the house (who wanted to put condominiums on the property) and the City of Redondo Beach to have the house moved and renovated. The City had the house moved to its current location and volunteers worked on the restoration until completion in December 2004. All of the Morrell family furniture was moved into the house and the Society is continuing to furnish it with period pieces from the 1900’s to 1950’s to show how the house might have looked during the Morrell times.

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