Herman W. Hellman

Herman W. Hellman (1843–1906) was a German-born businessman, banker, and real estate investor in Los Angeles, California.

Herman W. Hellman
Herman W Hellman 002.jpg
BornSeptember 25, 1843
DiedOctober 19, 1906[1]
Resting placeHome of Peace Cemetery
OccupationBusinessman, banker, real estate investor
Spouse(s)Isa Heimann
Children4, including Irving Hellman
RelativesIsaias W. Hellman (brother)
Warren Hellman (great-grandnephew)

Early lifeEdit

Herman W. Hellman was born on September 25, 1843, in Reckendorf, Bavaria.[2][3] He emigrated to the United States with his brother Isaias W. Hellman, arriving in Los Angeles, California on May 14, 1859, as a sixteen-year-old.[2][4]


He started working as a courier from Wilmington, California to Los Angeles for Phineas Banning.[2][5] In 1861, he worked for his uncle, Samuel Hellman, who had a store in Los Angeles.[2] Shortly after, he opened his own store at Downey Block.[2]

He established a wholesale grocer's called Hellman, Haas & Co. with Jacob Haas, the brother of Abraham Haas.[2][3] They sold groceries in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.[2][3] As his business prospered, he became one of the wealthiest men in Los Angeles by the 1880s.[2] The company later became known as Baruch, Haas, & Co.[2]

In 1890, he became vice president and general manager of The Farmers and Merchants Bank of Los Angeles, a bank established by his brother.[2][3][4] He was later demoted by his brother, who found his lending practises too lenient.[2] He resigned in 1903, and became the president of the Merchants National Bank instead.[2][3][4] He also became a co-founder of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.[2]

The Hellman Building in Downtown Los Angeles in 2008.

Hellman BuildingsEdit

Hellman was a large landowner in Los Angeles.[2] He had many buildings constructed bearing his name over the years: had built buildings also known as "Hellman Building" (also "H. W. Hellman Building" & "New Hellman Building"):[6]

  • one mentioned in 1876 on Third Street between Main Street and Spring streets, where a musical boarding school was located[7]
  • one built in 1882 on Main and Commercial streets "next to Litchenberger's", between Court and First streets[8]
  • one at Third and Main streets in 1892[9]
  • another at the northeast corner of Second Street and Broadway in 1897[10]

In 1903, he hired architect Alfred Rosenheim to design the Hellman Building at Fourth and Spring streets.[2] The eight-story building in Downtown Los Angeles still stands today, converted to residential use.[2][3][4]

He served as president of the Congregation B'nai B'rith, later known as the Wilshire Boulevard Temple.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

Marco Hellman
Irving Hellman

He married Ida Heimann (1851–1923) who was one of his cousins, on July 26, 1874, while on a trip in Italy.[2] They resided on South Hill Street in Los Angeles and owned a secondary home in Alhambra.[2] They had five children:[11]

  • Clothilde Hellman (1875–1884)[11]
  • Frieda Hellman (1876–1944)[11]
  • Marco H. Hellman (1878–1948), a banker.[2]
  • Irving H. Hellman (1883–1975) a civil engineer.[2]
  • Amy Hellman (1888–1920)[2]


He died of a diabetes-induced coma on October 19, 1906, in Los Angeles, California.[2][3] He was buried at the Home of Peace Cemetery in East Los Angeles.[2]


  1. ^ "HELLMAN IS DEAD: Local Banker Dies Suddenly; Multi-Millionaire's Relatives at Bedside During His Last Moments; Attended to Vast Interests Until His Strength Gave Away; Was One of Best Known Men of Finance in Western World" (Oct 19, 1906) Los Angeles Times
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Jewish Museum of the American West: Herman W. Hellman
  3. ^ a b c d e f g H.D. Barrows (1906). "Herman W. Hellman". Tenth Annual Report of the Pioneers of Los Angeles County and the Annual Publication of the Historical Society of Southern California. University of California Press. 7 (1): 82–83. JSTOR 41168619.
  4. ^ a b c d Sam Watters (December 26, 2009) "Hellman buildings were inspired by national spirit," The Los Angeles Times
  5. ^ George Ward Burton (1904) Men of Achievement in the Great Southwest, p.59, Los Angeles Times
  6. ^ Search for "Hellman Building" in Los Angeles, California newspapers, newspapers.com
  7. ^ Untitled news item, Los Angeles Express, October 6, 1876, p. 3
  8. ^ Untitled article, Los Angeles Herald, March 18, 1882, p.3
  9. ^ Untitled news item, Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1892, p.8
  10. ^ Hellman Building, Water and Power Associates
  11. ^ a b c Frances Dinkelspiel (2008) Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, St. Martin's Press, New York ISBN 978-0-31235-526-5