Dorothy Street

If Santa Monica’s Adelaide Drive is named after Adelaide Gillis (1890-1990), daughter of Robert Conran Gillis (1863-1947), then does Dorothy Street honor her little sister Dorothy (1895-1991)? It makes sense that Gillis, head of the Santa Monica Land and Water Company and developer of north SM and Westgate, would award street names to both of his daughters, but here’s the rub: Dorothy Street was originally called Sherman Avenue – no doubt for Moses H. Sherman, Gillis’s powerful friend. It was changed in 1917 to prevent postal conflicts with the Valley’s Sherman Way, named for the same man. Since this street was renamed by city ordinance, I can’t say whether Gillis himself requested “Dorothy” or it was just a coincidence. At any rate, Dorothy Gillis was born in Santa Monica and married Percy W. Rairden in 1915. They briefly lived in Indonesia (Percy’s dad was a consul there) and had three kids – Percy Jr., Robert, and Adelaide – but divorced in 1933. Dorothy wed second husband Arthur L. Loomis a year later; Robert and Adelaide took his surname. Dorothy Gillis Loomis has been credited with selecting many of the trees that line the streets in this part of town.