Meet the Woman Who Envisioned Hollywood as a Virtuous, Temperate Oasis

You can’t say she didn’t have good intentions.

If you’ve traveled though the heart of Hollywood, you’ve likely either traversed or crossed a street named Wilcox. The namesake of this thoroughfare, Henry Wilcox, was Hollywood’s founding father back in the late 1800s. But it was the Mother of Hollywood, his wife Daeida Wilcox, who helped shape an early utopia that would forever be transformed by the arrival of the motion picture industry.

But before the celluloid and the sin of the 20th century, the enclave of Hollywood was a temperate, mannered, residential community filled with Midwestern transplants, Victorians and Craftsman homes and very little crime. A religious woman who hailed from Ohio herself, Daeida created the original vision for this moral metropolis just outside the Los Angeles city limits.

According to LA Curbed, “Daeida particularly loved the rural Cahuenga Valley, gently sloping and covered in fruit trees. At her urging, Harvey bought 120 acres of the valley, centered around what would become the world-famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

“Daeida and Harvey threw themselves into their new project, commuting from Los Angeles frequently. They began to lay the groundwork for a utopian subdivision for cultured, wholesome Midwesterners looking for fresh air and a second act in California.”

With no booze, Christian churches and good old American values, Hollywood became prime real estate, eventually establishing its own city hall, library, post office and police station. The town was eventually incorporated by a close vote in 1903, despite Daeida’s objection (she couldn’t vote as a woman), but maintained its ban on alcohol, firearms, pool halls and other unsavory activity. Eventually, due to water shortages, Hollywood was officially annexed by the City of Los Angeles in 1910. Daeida would die four years later, never to see her beloved home evolve into the Tinsel Town we know today.

You can read more about Daeida’s Hollywood and its original inhabitants here.

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