Hermon Car Wall

The Hermon Car Wall

Hermon Car Wall

To keep debris from falling onto his property, one enterprising resident of the small Los Angeles neighborhood of Hermon built a retaining wall using concrete, bricks, locally sourced rocks, wagon wheels, and a variety of automobile parts.

One Man’s Love Affair with the Automobile

In 1932, a gent by the name of Albert Emmanuel Sederquist bought eight lots (numbers 4 – 11) in Block 21 of the Highland Park Addition between Terrill Avenue and the border of Debs Park. He named his purchase “The Dugout” and almost immediately, he started building a retaining wall to keep the unmaintained pedestrian walkway of Pullman Street from crumbling down onto his property.

The remains of the Hermon Car Wall
William Sederquist’s Hermon Car Wall. Photo from the author’s collection.

It took him and his three nephews 10 years of working with just simple hand tools, but when complete the Hermon Car Wall served not only to keep the hillside from falling onto Sederquist’s land but also paid homage to the car culture of Los Angeles.

Sederquist was a big fan of automobiles — it’s said that he owned six when he started building the wall (and this was during the Great Depression) — and he used various car parts to bolster the wall’s facade. In addition to concrete, rocks, and brick, you can see rusty gears, steering wheels, engine casings, and even a rusty crankshaft all incorporated into the wall.

Crankshaft in the Hermon Car Wall
“You know what this wall needs? A crankshaft!” An imagined quote from William Sederquist. Photo from the author’s collection.

But he didn’t limit his materials to car parts alone. He also used a trip of wooden wagon wheels in keystone fashion and he seems to have sourced rocks from other places he visited in California. Specifically, he added 27 rocks from Painted Gorge and 17 from Barley Flats above the Angeles Crest Highway. He noted the quantity and location of where the rocks were gathered from in neat lettering in the concrete.

Hermon Car Wall: Sourced Rocks
Rock attribution isn’t something you see all that often. Photo from the author’s collection.

The Hermon Car Wall Versus the Elements

Today, much of the wall has been washed away in the wake of numerous mudslides and heavy rains over the years. All that remains of Sederquist’s legacy is a small section, about 10 or 20 feet long.

Hermon Car Wall holds back the encroaching hillside.
The standing section of Sederquist’s Hermon Car Wall. Photo from the author’s collection.

The remnants of the Hermon Car Wall only hint at its full glory. But what still stands has been recognized as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument Number 944 (granted on January 28, 2009) due to its status as a fabulous work of folk art that is very much in the spirit of Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers.

Finding the Hermon Car Wall

Sederquist, who passed away in 1959, built his wall at the base of Pullman Street, which was an unimproved pedestrian walkway at the time. Today, it’s still a pedestrian walkway, but it’s been paved. Unfortunately, because of the wall’s deteriorated condition, it can’t really be seen from atop the pedestrian walkway on Pullman.

The Latest Exploration …

The best way to see the Hermon Car Wall is from a paved road between 406 and 414 Terrill Avenue (a feature added by Lyle Peters, who bought the property from Sederquist’s estate in 1960). But this is technically a private drive, so there’s no parking. Park on Terrill Ave, Bushnell Way, or Monterey Road and walk in to enjoy the wall.

Road to the Hermon Car Wall
The road to the Hermon Car Wall. Photo from the author’s collection.

The Hermon Car Wall Donut Stop

If you choose to embark upon an exploration to visit the Hermon Car Wall, do yourself a favor and stop in at the nearby, recently re-opened Monterey Donut at 5930 Monterey Road (cash only). You won’t regret it.

Hermon Car Wall

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Tom Fassbender is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. When not exploring Los Angeles, he’s been known to enjoy a cup of coffee or two. You can find him at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


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