Samuel Tilden Norton

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S. Tilden Norton
Born(1877-01-12)January 12, 1877
Los Angeles, California
DiedFebruary 16, 1959(1959-02-16) (aged 82)
Los Angeles, California
Alma materLos Angeles High School
PracticeNorton and Wallis, Architects
BuildingsGreek Theatre, Los Angeles Theatre, Wilshire Boulevard Temple

Samuel Tilden Norton (January 21, 1877 – February 16, 1959), or S. Tilden Norton as he was known professionally, was a Los Angeles-based architect active in the first decades of the 20th century. During his professional career he was associated with the firm of Norton & Wallis, responsible for the design of many Los Angeles landmarks.

Personal life[edit]

Norton was born on January 21, 1877, to Isaac and Bertha (Greenbaum) Norton. Isaac Norton moved to Los Angeles in 1869[1] and was the founder of an early building and loan firm, Metropolitan Building and Loan Assn.[2] Bertha was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. Greenbaum, the latter the first Jewish woman to come to Los Angeles, having arrived in 1851. Bertha Norton[3] was said by her family to be the first Jewish child born in the city. Norton's siblings included Albert, an attorney and financier and Florence (Florie) Norton Desenberg (married M. B. Desenberg).

Norton graduated in 1895 from Los Angeles High School.

Norton married the former Esther Gro(e)del, daughter of Selina and Louis Groedel, in Baltimore in 1904. They had a daughter, Elizabeth, who attended USC, married J. L. Rudé, and bore Norton three grandchildren. The family lived for many years at 66 Fremont Place near downtown Los Angeles. Norton died on February 16, 1959, at the age of 82 after a long illness, at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, predecessor to today's Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Professional career[edit]

Following his graduation from high school, Norton immediately began his professional training working as a draftsman for Edward Neissen, a Los Angeles architect. He later moved temporarily to New York City for further design apprenticeship work. Upon his return to Los Angeles, Norton founded his own architectural firm around 1902 at 253 South Broadway, Room 316. He later moved to 607 South Hill Street, Room 418. By the 1930s, his office was at Room 1210, 704 South Spring Street—the Financial Center Building of which he had been the architect in 1927.

Financial Center Building
Financial Center Building on Spring St., designed by Norton and also the location of his office

Norton had early on formed a partnership with Frederick H. Wallis, their firm being known as Norton and Wallis, Architects. He was also associated with the family-owned Norton Investment Company (or Norton Securities Company).

Community activities[edit]

Norton was very involved in his community. He was a founder and charter member of the Hillcrest Country Club and served as a director of the Prudential Building and Loan Association. He was also a proud upholder of his faith, serving as president of the Board of Trustees of Congregation B'nai B'rith, the Jewish Men's Professional Club of Los Angeles, Nathan Straus Palestine Society, and Jewish Consumption Relief,. In addition, he was a director of the Federation of Jewish Welfare Organizations, the Jewish Welfare Fund, and Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Norton was professionally active as well, having served as president of the Southern California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects which he had joined around 1912. He also wrote articles about houses for The Illustrated Magazine beginning in the early 1900s.


Norton was responsible for the design of many Jewish landmarks in the Los Angeles area, such as:

  • B'nai B'rith lodge building at 9th and Union Streets (1923)
  • Jewish Orphans Home of Southern California at Vista Del Mar[4] (1924)
  • Sinai Temple at 407 South New Hampshire (1924)—described as an "Eastern Mediterranean mixture of Islamic and Byzantine motifs"
  • Young Men's Hebrew Association at Soto Street and Michigan Avenue, East Los Angeles (1925)
  • Council House, on Loma Drive, for the Council of Jewish Women[5] (1926)
  • Israel Temple at Franklin and Argyle in Hollywood (1927)
  • another Sinai Temple at 12th and Valencia (1929)

He was also an associate architect between 1922 and 1929 for the Temple B'nai B'rith at Wilshire and Hobart Boulevards, now known as the Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

Besides those buildings mentioned above, other Norton works include the following (all in Los Angeles unless otherwise noted):


  • Flat building, 7th & Union Streets (1902)
  • County Hospital (1902—plans entered in an architectural competition)
  • Apartment house, Winston between Wall and San Pedro Streets (1903)
  • Three-flat building, California west of Hill Street (1903)
  • H. M. Nichols residence, Glendora (1903)
  • Residence at 1656 W. 25th Street (1905)
    Norton-designed residence on W. 25th St.
    Bernays House at 1656 W. 25 St. South Los Angeles[6]
  • Amestoy Residence, 1659 South Hobart Blvd. in Harvard Heights (34°02′35″N 118°18′20″W / 34.043085°N 118.305641°W / 34.043085; -118.305641), built for John B. Amestoy, son of Dominique Amestoy (1903). Building and Contractor reported that

Ar'cht. S. Tilden Norton has prepared plans for a two-storey, 10-room frame residence to be built on Hobart Blvd. for James [sic] B. Amestoy. 1t will have oak floors, yellow pine finish, plate glass windows, plumbing, electricity, etc.[7]



  • Hotel at 2nd and Figueroa Streets (1923)
  • Independent Order of B'nai B'rith,[12] 846 S. Union Street at 9th (present-day James M. Wood Boulevard) Sts. (1923)
  • Temple Sinai East, another synagogue for the Sinai congregation at 407 South New Hampshire Avenue, a 1400-seat building used until 1960. Currently occupied by Korean Philadelphia Presbyterian Church.
  • A. E. Newman residence, 86 Fremont Place (1929)
  • Hollywood Center at 6652-54 Hollywood Boulevard (at Cherokee) (1929)-originally known as the Shane & Regar Store Building,[13] this is a four-story edifice described as a "marvelous art deco" building with a "distinguished lobby." First home of the Screen Actors Guild[14] and of the Writers Guild of America. "An example of the subset of Art Deco known as Zigzag Moderne."
  • Greek Theatre, Griffith Park (1929–30)
  • William Fox Office Building[15] at 608 South Hill Street (1930)—a Zigzag Moderne 13-story Art Deco office tower with a black-and-gold vestibule and lobby (now the Fox Jewelry Mart)
  • Los Angeles Theatre at 615 Broadway, (1930 co-credit with S. Charles Lee)[16]
  • Southern California Telephone Company remodel, 626 South Hill Street (1931)

Buildings designed by S. Tilden Norton with Wikipedia entries are here.


  2. ^ "Western Jewry; an account of the achievements of the Jews and Judaism in California, including eulogies and biographies. "The Jews in California," by Martin A. Meyer". San Francisco, Emanu-el. 1916.
  3. ^ "University of Southern California".
  4. ^ 2019–2020 SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY REPORT CARD (2019-08-22). "Child and Family Services". Vista Del Mar. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  5. ^ "History | NCJW/LA". Archived from the original on 2014-03-24.
  6. ^ "HISTORIC-CULTURAL MONUMENT (HCM) REPORT". Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  7. ^ Builder and Contractor, July 2, 1903, p. 1
  8. ^ "Work is Rapid on Hotel Palms". Los Angeles Herald. October 14, 1906.
  9. ^ "New Department Store Opens Doors to Public". Los Angeles Herald. March 26, 1907. p. 4.
  10. ^ "Welsh Presbyterian Church". Archived from the original on 2012-05-18. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  11. ^ "Southern California Gas Company Headquarters - Broadway Los Angeles". Archived from the original on 2012-05-11. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  12. ^ "Independent Order B'nai B'rith - Los Angeles Eagles Lodge Building". Archived from the original on 2012-05-11. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  13. ^ "Shane Building by Norton + Wallis Architects - Hollywood Center - Los Angeles". Archived from the original on 2012-05-11. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  14. ^[bare URL]
  15. ^ "William Fox Building, Los Angeles". Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  16. ^ "Opalstack: no site here yet!". Retrieved 2022-05-02.