Denni Street

Wilmington patron Louis Denni (1859-1933) was born Alois Dönni in Switzerland. He came to SoCal in 1884 and was soon hired by the Bixby family; in 1907, he became superintendent of their vast agricultural holdings, primarily in Los Alamitos. He also ran his own dairy there, which made him a wealthy man – so wealthy that he gave up milk for banking in 1912. That year he sold his dairy to his nephew Job Denni (1878-1964) and moved to the very top of Signal Hill. As if he wasn’t already rich enough, in 1921 a history-making oil field was discovered under that hill: with oil drillers leasing out his property for their wells, Denni made an absolute fortune in passive income. With this largesse he moved to Wilmington in 1923 (his house was at the corner of Marine Ave. and K Street, renamed Denni Street in 1934) and became the town’s biggest property owner. After the death of Erhard Opp, he ascended to the presidency of the Wilmington Mutual Building & Loan Association. Louis Denni married German immigrant Elisa Hoffman (1862-1941) in 1891. Of their six kids, Anna and Nicholas died in infancy; Louis V., an epileptic, died at 20 after vanishing near Big Bear; Mary became a nun; Elizabeth married twice; and Joseph took over the bank after his father was killed in a car crash.