Kerckhoff Avenue

William George Kerckhoff (1856-1929) was born in Terre Haute, IN to German immigrant parents. In 1879, his family settled in Los Angeles and Kerckhoff bought a lumber company with Canadian expat James Cuzner. The Kerckhoff-Cuzner Mill and Lumber Co. soon became one of the biggest such firms in the city, and between 1885 and 1896 they constructed a wharf at San Pedro, then dug out a channel to expedite shipping of their goods. During this period, Kerckhoff founded a bank with San Pedro overlord George Peck; Peck would name Kerckhoff Avenue in his honor in 1906. Kerckhoff later got big into California utilities, pioneering hydroelectric power in the state and founding the Southern California Gas Company – good old SoCalGas. A banker and investor as well, he helped Burton Green buy the land that would become Beverly Hills. Near the end of his life, Kerckhoff gave generously to UCLA and Caltech, which both have buildings named in his honor. His widow Louise (née Eshman, 1859-1946), a fellow Terre Hautean who went on to even greater philanthropy, bequeathed the Kerckhoff mansion on West Adams to USC. The couple had two daughters.