Otto A. Classen

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Otto A. Classen

Birthdate: (70)
Birthplace: Wurgen or Dresden, Saxony, Germany
Death: April 14, 1939 (70)
Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California, United States (Cause of Death Unknown)
Place of Burial: Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Hope, Crypt 137, Hollywood, Los Angeles , California, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Elsie Laura Eubank Classen

Occupation: Artist born in Germany--came to Los Angeles in 1898
Managed by: Della Dale Smith-Pistelli
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Otto A. Classen

Otto Classen was Born in Dresden, Germany, in 1868. Classen studied in Europe during the height of Impressionism. In 1898, he emigrated to Southern California and settled in Santa Monica, bringing his impressionistic style and "plein air" painting to the western landscape. The above painting is an untitled landscape in an hand tooled gold arts and crafts frame, and is a collector's dream. An example of Classen's mature work, the artist reveals the western landscape through the masterful application of impressionist brushwork. Classen depicts a shimmering stream running through a wooded California oasis. This painting was offered for purchase at $7,950.00 and was sold. The gallery shown below is seeking more examples of this wonderful artist's works.


Following is some information from public records that I found about my great uncle Otto Classen and his wife, my great aunt Elsie Laura Eubank Classen: An artist biography for Otto Classen (1868-1939) reads as follows: "Otto A. Classen was born in Dresden, Germany on June 25, 1868. He moved to Los Angeles in 1898 and worked as a freelance artist. He was active in southern California until his death in Santa Monica on April 14, 1939. His rare works include portraits, landscapes, and desert scenes. Exhibited: Bay Women's Club (Santa Monica), 1937."

On May 14, 1898, in Los Angeles, California, Otto Classen, 29 years old, submitted his Declaration of Intention Form to become a citizen of the United States of America. He had embarked at Leipsig, Germany, and arrived at New York City on the 15th day of September, 1893.

In the 1900 U.S. Census, Otto was living with his wife, Elsie, at 1340 Staunton Avenue in Los Angeles, California. Otto, 32, and Elsie, 24, had been married for two years. The record indicated Otto was born in Germany, as were both of his parents, and Elsie was born in Missouri and her parents in Kentucky and Ohio. However, her father was actually born in Tennessee, not Kentucky. The record further stated that Otto came to the United States in 1895, and had been naturalized 5 years earlier. His profession was listed as fresco artist. They owned their own home, but had a mortgage. This census record stated that Otto was born in June of 1867 not 1868 as other records indicated.

On July 10, 1908, Otto completed a passport application for himself and his wife, Elsie. In that application he stated he was born at Wurgen, Germany, on June 25, 1868, and that he emigrated to America, sailing on board the Massdam from Rotterdam on or about the middle of September, 1892, and that he had resided 15 years uninteruptedly in the USA from 1892 to 1908, in Denver, Colorado and Los Angeles, California. He was naturalized as a citizen of the USA before the Superior court of Los Angeles County at Los Angeles on the 18th of April, 1903, as shown by a Certificate of Naturalization. He stated that his permanent residence was in Los Angeles, California, where he was working as a decorator.

Otto was about to go abroad temporarily and intended to return to the USA within six months. A description of the applicant reads as follows: age: 40 years, stature: 5'-5-1/2" tall, with a low and narrow forehead, blue eyes, a normal nose and mouth, round chin, dark blond hair, a fair complexion and oval face. A witness by the name of Frank Schwarz, living at 740 East 18th Street in Los Angeles, California, testified that he had known Otto Classen for 10 years. He asked that his passport be sent to him in care of the main office of North, German & Lloyd of New York City, New York.

On November 3, 1908, Otto and Elsie arrived in New York City from Cherbourg, France, on board the ship Prince Friedrich Wilhelm.

In the 1910 census, Otto, 41, and Elsie, 35, were living with her mother, Elsie Jane, a 68-year old widow, in the Cahuenga part of Hollywood Precinct No. 2, at 415 North Highland Avenue. Elsie's father, James Joseph Eubank, had passed away at the age of 80 years old on June 4, 1907, at the Old Soldier's Home in West Los Angeles. He was buried in the National Cemetery for Veteran's in West Los Angeles. In this census record, Otto was listed as being born in Nevada, and so were his parents, but we know he was born in Germany. He was listed as a house decorator. He may have lied about being from Nevada instead of Germany due to unfavorable impressions of Germans in this country at the time.

In the 1920 census, Otto, 51, and Elsie, 46, were living on West Drive in Malibu. The record indicated that Otto came to the America from Germany in 1892 and was naturalized in 1903. Otto's was listed as an artist. In 1926 and 1927 U.S. City Directory Listings in the Santa Monica area, Elsie and Otto were living at 272 Center Street, Santa Monica Canyon, and Otto was listed as an artist.

In March 31, 1922, Otto applied for another passport, stating that he planned to visit Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, the British Isles, France, Italy, Germany, Holand, Belgium, Spain, Austria, Hungary, and Switzerland to visit relatives. He was planning on leaving from the port of New York on May 22nd. He stated he was born in Saxony, Germany, and his father's name was Robert, who was also born in Germany, but was deceased at the time. Otto was living in Santa Monica Canyon, R.F.D., Box 3, Santa Monica, County of Los Angeles, California. He desired to travel to Europe via the Panama Canal and Central American countries and that the purpose of his trip was for pleasure and health.

On this application he was described as being 54 years old, 5'5" tall with a high forehead, blue eyes, medium nose, mustached mouth, round chin, medium light brown hair, a fair complexion and an oval face. A woman by the name of Della Caton, an American citizen, swore that she had known Otto Classen personally for 11 years. She was living at 4533 Orchard Avenue in Los Angeles, California. Otto requested that he desired the passport to be sent to the following address: 228 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, California, c/o Pavlovski-Stone Company. A photo of Otto was shown at the bottom of this application for passport.

Otto was listed on the Hamburg, Germany, Passenger List, departing there on September 30, 1922, with a destination of Santa Monica, California, via a New York port of arrival on board the ship Manchuria. He arrived in New York City on October 10, 1922, however, his wife, Elsie, was not traveling with him at the time.

In a 1925 U.S. City Directory listing, Otto A. and Elsie L. were living at 89 Center Street in Santa Monica Canyon and he was working as an interior decorator. In a 1928 directory they were living at 272 Center Street in Santa Monica, and Otto was working as an artist.

In the 1930 census, Otto, 61, and Elsie, 54, were living at 272 Ocean Way in Los Angeles. They owned their home valued at $30,000 and they had a radio in their home, which was a question the census taker asked that year. The age at which they were married was 30 for Otto and 23 for Elsie. There was no occupation listed for Otto. They were listed at the same address in 1933, but by 1936 Elsie and Otto were living at 272 Entrada Drive in Santa Monica. Otto was listed as an artist. A 1938 directory listing showed they were living at 268 Entrada Drive, Santa Monica, California. Unfortunately, Otto passed away at the age of 70 years old in April of 1939, and was buried in a crypt at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California.

I did not find Elsie in the 1940 census, but in a 1940 U.S. City Directory Listing, she was living at 268 Entrada Drive, Santa Monica, California, and was still living there in 1951 when she was listed as the widow of Otto. She passed away September 19, 1956, in Los Angeles, California, and was buried with Otto in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, although her remains were not placed in a crypt, but rather were buried on the grounds of the cemetery. The California Death Index showed her mother's maiden name as Rewsen, and her father's name as Eubank, although I always knew her mother's maiden to be Rouser. Elsie Laura Eubank was born October 6, 1873, in Missouri. She died about 5 weeks before her 83rd birthday.

Per Find A, Otto was a "respected 20th century artist, known for his desert landscapes and portraits. His crypt is located in a corridor at Hollywood Forever Cemetery that had been closed to the general public for many years until reopening in 2004," according to a bio by A.J. Marik. Otto was buried in the Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Hope, Crypt 137. Elsie was not buried in a crypt, however, and her remains were buried on the cemetery grounds in section 19 next to the road.

I was only 5 years old when my great aunt Elsie passed away, and if we went to visit her in Santa Monica before then, I certainly don't remember visiting her there. I do remember my mother talking about her aunt Elsie, but I know she was not fond of her because Elsie would never reveal any information about her brother, Stephen James Eubank (my grandfather) who deserted my mother's family when my mom was only about 8 years old in about 1919 or 1920. My mom and her siblings always wondered what ever happened to their father, but aunt Elsie would never reveal any of her brother Stephen's secrets. For all I know, I may have other Eubank cousins out there I will never know.

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Otto A. Classen's Timeline

June 25, 1868
Wurgen or Dresden, Saxony, Germany
April 14, 1939
Age 70
Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California, United States
Hollywood, Los Angeles , California, United States