Los Angeles County
GEORGE LESLIE SMITH
††††††††††† Born in Hampden, Maine, December 18, 1874, George Leslie Smith was the only son of Horace Edgar and Mary Ella (Kinney) Smith.† Both grandfathers were born in Maine and were of Scotch ancestry.† Horace Edgar Smith was born in Hampden and spent an active career as a contractor in Malden, Massachusetts, and Bangor, Maine, passing away in 1923.† His wife, the mother of George Leslie, was born in Winterport, Maine, and taught school before her marriage.† After her husbandís death she came to Los Angeles but within three months she too passed away.
††††††††††† George Leslie Smith attended grade schools at Hampden and also Hampden Academy, supplementing his early advantages by study in night schools and private schools.† While in school he likewise studied violin.† He loved music and believed in its value as a cultural force.† He worked in those days as a clerk in a shoe store as well as at a mechanical trade.† In his leisure he would study architecture and building.† He had observed his fatherís contracting business from boyhood and liked it.† New building materials and methods were a fascination to him.† At Bangor, Maine, he was employed as an architectural draftsman and from that work went into contracting and served as a constructing superintendent.† His experience brought him an early knowledge of reinforced concrete construction.
††††††††††† Coming to California in 1902 he was employed in Los Angeles by the late Henry R. Angelo and subsequently became a superintendent of construction for Bent Brothers.† He was superintendent of construction when the foundation of the Philharmonic Auditorium was built at Fifth and Olive streets.† He superintended the building of the old Citizens National Bank in Los Angeles and in 1910 managed the work on the Arrowhead Reservoir Power Company project.† In 1912 he was superintendent of the building of the Sweetwater dam at San Diego after which he resigned his position with Bent Brothers to serve as superintendent for the building of the water system in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which was completed in 1918.† He was called back to Los Angeles in 1919 by William A. Clark, Jr., to superintend the construction of a home-building program.
††††††††††† The association with Mr. Clark led to our subjectís interest in the Philharmonic and in 1924 he was appointed assistant manager.† Mr. Smith entered heart and soul into his work with this most laudable organization, and in 1921 was named manager of the Philharmonic Auditorium.† In 1924-26 he established and managed the Los Angeles opera season.† The Los Angeles winter symphony season was the foundation of the opera season and the Hollywood Bowl entertainments.† The chamber music groups were formed from the orchestra personnel.† In 1929 Mr. Smith was made manager of the Philharmonic Orchestra which under his leadership became internationally known.
††††††††††† Mr. Smith had a well-defined idea of music and its relation to the people, which ideal he sincerely and earnestly tried to develop to a high status.† He firmly believed every community should have an artistic life to offset the other phases, some not so relaxing which exist in a metropolitan center.† He believed music lends refinement and beauty to oneís living and attracts together the right people wherever it is played.† Mr. Smith was convinced that his success in teaching the charm of music was wondrously furthered by the influence of Los Angeles women who backed this movement as they have always backed great cultural movements.† The Philharmonic has been carried on for over fifteen years, and despite the financial deficit which seems to accompany this work everywhere, it has been covered each year by William A. Clark, Jr., one of the preeminent music patrons of the world.† Support of such magnificent venture by taxation is a certain happening in the future, and when it comes the great share of its success will be attributed to such men as George Leslie Smith.
††††††††††† Mr. Smith was a member of the Theatrical Managers Association of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Music Federation, belonged to the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and in the Rotary Club served on the round table committee and the fellowship committee for 1924.† He was always a republican in national politics, and fraternally was identified with all the Scottish Rite bodies of Masonry at Los Angeles, and the Mystic Shrine.† He was a member of the Uplifters Club of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Athletic Club.† In religious faith he was a Universalist.
††††††††††† On the 2d of October, 1899, at Calais, Maine, Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Caroline M. Estes, a very talented woman well known in Los Angelesí social life.† She was born in Winn, Maine, a daughter o Willie A. and Mary (Graves) Estes, and was reared and educated in the Pine Tree state, the Estes family having lived there for generations and tracing their descent back to Italy.† She belongs to the Womanís Athletic Club and the Eastern Star.† Mr. and Mrs. Smith had one son, George Leslie, Jr., who was born in Los Angeles and is a student at the Urban Military Academy of this city.† Mr. Smith passed much of his time on his eighty-acre fruit ranch at Fall Brook in San Diego county.
Transcribed by Joyce Rugeroni.
Source: California of the South Vol. V, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 277-279, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles,† Indianapolis.† 1933.
© 2012 †Joyce Rugeroni.