New development threatens the century-old home of an Echo Park inventor

The plans to demolish a cluster of modest Echo Park cottages and storefronts for an approximately 60-unit housing project prompted resident Rory Mitchell to look into the history of the property overlooking Sunset Boulevard near Waterloo Street.  Mitchell, a writer and historical consultant, was curious what connection to the past would be lost if the buildings were bulldozed. What Mitchell found was that one of the homes, a 1910 cottage at 2231 Sunset Blvd., was built for a Hungarian immigrant named Stefan Zacsek, his wife, Theresa, and daughter Anna. Zacsek was an ornamental iron worker and inventor who had a few years earlier received a patent for the device shown above,  an “apparatus for displaying pictures” or what Mitchell said looks like an earlyViewmaster.

Mitchell writes his blog writes:

Stefan Zacsek also held several patents, including a spring loaded door latch and an “apparatus for displaying pictures”  that would allow a person to look through binocular lenses and see a picture.  Then, they could pull a handle… and see another picture.   But Stefan Zacsek’s early Viewmaster must have proved no match for the growing popularity of the moving pictures intensifying between 1904 when the patent was applied for and 1906 when it was granted.

The moving pictures may not have been kind to Zacsek’s early 20th Century Viewmaster. But the movie business did wonders for Zacsek’s daughter Anna,  who appeared in silent films produced by D.W. Griffith. She later went on to become an attorney, with clients ranging from defendants in the Sleepy Lagoon case to architect Rudolf Schindler.

Mitchell said that the deadline for the public to submit comments on Sunset Flats, the development that would replace the Zacsek home has been extended  until Jan. 28.

Drawing from US Patent and Trademark Office/Google Patents


  1. I got my letter of protest in! Those store fronts and houses above are so wonderful, a monster modern apartment building there would just look and feel awful. And traffic is always bad there already because of the fire station. A terrible idea for this location.

  2. let us not forget the eyesore “new” complex at Sunset and Quintero.
    they had a perfect opportunity to design and build something with character and came up with yet another cheaply built stucco eyesore.

    ironic how they got it so right in LA the 20’s thru the 50’s. 70’s birth of the strip mall was the killer.

    please hold onto the original charm of the strip. and if something must be built on that open plot, make it 10 units and something LA can enjoy seeing !


  3. the link above is to the eyesore apartment building of Sunset and Quintero, not a reference to what I think would improve or preserve the area. lol. but i’m sure all you beautifully smart people knew that. : )

  4. Huh? Most everything built 20s-50s was stucco – some eyesores some not so much. 70’s strip mall? That’s a problem of too much parking – which you’d be the first to complain about if they tried to reduce…

  5. Just An Email Would Help

    Please take the time to send an email and protest this building here: rogelio.flores@lacity.org It would be great if all the people who litter this site with their mean comments would channel that energy into actually DOING something for the community. Just saying.

  6. old school smooth spanish stucco is amazing. new cheaply done “unsmooth” cheaply done stucco on bad architecture is bad bad bad. and yes, strip malls are the blight of LA.

  7. Strip malls are an eyesore, but so convenient. Therein lies the rub.

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