Otto Adolph Classen

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Otto Adolph Classen

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:

Son of Otto Moritz Robert Classen and Johanna Elisabeth Dorothea Classen
Husband of Elsie Laura Eubank Classen
Brother of Robert H. Classen; Anna Classen and Minnie Bertha Mayer

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

About Otto Adolph 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."

Per a U.S. City Directory dated 1892, Otto Classen was living in Denver, Colorado, and working as an artist. He was living at 475 S. 11th Street. There were 3 other Classen's listed in the same directory, Robert, who was living at the same address as Otto (probably his brother), and he was working for the Colorado Journal Newspaper as a circulator. There was also a Richard D. Classen, a solicitor for G.L. Stapleton, and an Emma Classen, working as a clerk for Daniels & Fisher and residing at 1332 9th Street. No address was shown for Richard.

The 1894 directory for Denver showed that Otto was working as a painter and living at 321 York Street. In that directory there were several other classen's, namely Emma, a clerk for Daniels & Fisher living at 1322 9th Street, Henry, a laborer living at 1730 Quincy Street, and Robert, who was working as a collector for Manitou Mineral Water Company and that he was living on New York Avenue between Collyer and Beecher Avenues.

In 1895 Otto was still in Denver, living at 55 Hallack & Howard Block, and was working as a painter for Miller & Adamson. Emma and Robert were also listed int he same director as they were before in the previous year.

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, 1892. He married Elsie Laura Eubank on September 21, 1898, in Los Angeles County, California.

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.

A 1901 U.S. City Directory listing shows that Otto was living at 1340 Staunton Avenue and was working as a fresco artist. Also listed in the same directory were August Classen, a bartender, living at 545 S. Los Angeles Street, and Emil Classen, a lithographer, living at 412 N. Fremont Avenue, and also at that same address was Frank Classen, an upholsterer for De Garmo & Winnett, and Regina Classen, (widow of Martin). Regina was working as a bookkeeper for California Carpet Company. I don't know if any of these Classen's were relatives of Otto.

A 1902 U.S. City Directory listing shows that Otto was living at 431-1/2 South Spring Street, and he was running a company called Classen & Martin, which was an Interior Decorating Company owned by Otto and Richard Martin. There was also a note in the directory to "see card in classified Fresco Painters." Regina Classen, was also listed as the widow of Martin Classen, was living at 2208 S. San Pedro Street in Los Angeles, and she was working as a bookkeeper for T. Billington Company.

The directory for 1903 showed that Otto was living at 1340 Staunton Avenue in Los Angeles and was working as a decorator. He was the only Classen listed in the directory that year. On April 18th, 1903, Otto was awarded his Certificate of Citizenship for the United States of America.

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 Maasdam 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 in the Cahuenga part of Hollywood Precinct No. 2, at 415 North Highland Avenue, and living with them was her mother, Elsie Jane Eubank, a 68-year old widow. Otto was working as a house decorator. 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, due to serving in Company C of the 124th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. He had been wounded at the Battle of Vicksburg in June of 1863, and suffered from that disability for the rest of his life. It must have made his work as a carpenter very difficult due to the pain he suffered from his wounds.

In the 1910 census record, Otto was listed as being born in Nevada, and so were his parents, but we know he was born in Germany. He may have lied about being from Nevada instead of Germany due to unfavorable impressions of Germans in this country at the time. A 1911 U.S. City Directory listing showed Otto living at 529 S. Main Street in Los Angeles. A 1912 directory showed Otto was living at 415 N. Highland Avenue. There were other Classen's listed in the same directory, including Aug, a clerk, Edward, an upholsterer, Frank, with Classen & Louden upholsterers, Kathryn F., a seamstress, Mary, and Regina, widow of Martin. But I don't know if any of these other Classen's were related to Otto.

In a 1914 city directory listing Otto was living at 2015 Highland Avenue, and also in that directory were again Aug, Edward, Frank, and Regina. In a 1915 directory listing, Otto was listed as an artist living at 1815 Highland Avenue (rear). Again listed were Aug a bartender, Edward a mattress maker, Frank and upholsterer, and Regina, the widow of Martin who was working as a bookkeeper for Krystal Company. She may have been the mother of Frank, since they were both listed at the same address at 1400 Millard Avenue. The following year in 1916, Otto was again living at 2015 Highland Avenue and was still living there in 1918.

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, and that both his parents were also born in Germany. Otto's was listed as an artist, and they owned their home free from a mortgage.

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, Holland, 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. From 1925 to 1928 they were living at 272 Center Street in Santa Monica Canyon and Otto was working as an artist.

In the 1930 census, Otto, 61, and Elsie, 54, were living at 272 Ocean Way in Santa Monica. However, Otto was also listed in a California Voter Registration Record, living at 272 Center Street, and was working as an artist and registered as a Republican. His name was listed in that record as Otto Adolph Classen, the only time I found him listed in a public record with his full middle name.

In the 1930 census it showed that Otto and Elsie 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. No occupation listed for Otto for some reason. They were listed at the same address in 1933, but by 1936 they were again listed at 272 Center Drive in Santa Monica, and Otto was listed as an artist. In 1932 Otto and Elsie were registered to vote as Republicans, and they were living at 272 Center Street. By 1936, they were registered to vote as Democrats and were living at 272 Entrada Drive. A 1938 directory listing showed they were living at 268 Entrada Drive, Santa Monica.

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 1952 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 with Otto, 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 name 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 it. 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 Adolph 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