Janss Investment Company
The Janss Investment Company was founded by Peter Janss, an immigrant doctor from Denmark. Peter Janss graduated in the class of 1877 in Keokuk, Iowa, and by 1882 he was appointed Hall County physician. He moved to Los Angeles in 1893, planning to practice medicine but discovered the real estate industry was much more lucrative. By 1906 he and his two sons, Edwin Janss Sr. and Harold Janss established an investment company, creating subdivisions in Boyle Heights, Monterey Park, and Yorba Linda.
Janss developed Ramona Acres in Monterey Park. Janss subdivided Highland Villa and Belvedere Gardens in Boyle Heights. In 1909, Janss subdivided a 3,500-acre (14 km2) part of the Bernardo Yorba Rancho Cañón de Santa Ana property and named the new town "Yorba Linda".
In 1911 Harold Janss married Arthur Letts daughter Gladys. In 1923 after Arthur Letts, Sr. died, they took control of the 3,300-acre (13 km2) William Wolfskill ranch on Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres. In a deal to get the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1925 Janss Investment Company sold 375 acres (1.5 km2) to the cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills at the bargain price of $1.2 million — about a quarter of its value. The cities, whose voters had passed bond issues to pay for the site, turned around and donated it to the state. The UCLA campus's "Janss Steps" are named for the two brothers. While the UCLA campus was being built, Janss Investment Company went to work developing the Westwood Village commercial area and surrounding residential neighborhoods.
After Janns sold the land to help build the UCLA campus, many organizations affiliated with university began to form. Many of these groups were fraternities and sororities whose members were mostly white men and women. The land for the university had been sold, but the land surrounding it still belonged to Janss. They sold the land along Hilgard Ave. to twenty one European American groups for the prices between $7,500 and $9,500, whereas the usual asking price was between $8,000 and $12,000. In 1938 an Asian American sorority, Chi Alpha Deta, wanted to purchase the UCLA Religious Conference building with the hopes of setting up a home for its members and students near campus. The university appeared to be wanting to sell the building for this purpose, but while some of Janns was willing to sell, one was unwilling to sell to "Orientals".
The Janss Brothers' headquarters in Westwood Village, the Janss Investment Company Building or Janss Dome, was opened in 1929. The Dome stands today as one of the iconic buildings of Westwood Village. The firm's Janss Investment Co. "stamps" embellish sidewalks in many Westside residential neighborhoods.
Edwin Janss Jr. was chairman of the Janss Investment Company and the third generation of a family of Los Angeles real-estate developers. He and his brother Bill Janss helped expand or develop two ski resorts — Sun Valley in Idaho and Snowmass (ski area) in Colorado — both of which were sold in the late 1970s. Bill Janss was a member of the never-to-compete 1940 US Ski Team. They developed the suburban community of Thousand Oaks on 10,000-acre (40 km2) of land in the Conejo Valley purchased in 1919.
William Janss Jr., M.D., took over the family business and became Janss Corp.'s president in 1980. During his term, the firm developed some $160 million worth of projects. The firm ceased operations in 1995. Dr. Janss now resides in El Paso, Texas, where he practices.
William Janss Jr.'s son, Todd Janss of Janss Industries graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and worked at Oracle for over a year before moving to work for a leading search engine company.
- 1890 Hall County History
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- Brothers and sisters : diversity in college. Torbenson, Craig L. (Craig LaRon), 1956-, Parks, Gregory, 1974-. Madison. p. 87. ISBN 1611474027. OCLC 815429357.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Edwin Janss Jr., 74, a Developer of Suburbs and Two Ski Resorts, New York Times, March 18, 1989
- Auctions, New York Times, April 14, 1989
- John Fry, 2006,The story of modern skiing, UPNE , ISBN 978-1-58465-489-6
- Janss Corp. real estate firm closing down, Los Angeles Business Journal, Oct 9, 1995