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