Kaspare Cohn: Creator of Many “Living Legacies” in Los Angeles

Kaspare Cohn

Values Code: I-H-E-L-P

A Young Kaspare Cohn

Rabbi William M. Kramer, z”l, once commented:

“If Kasper Cohn’s name was kept on his bank and on the hospitals he created, he would be the best known Jewish pioneer of Los Angeles.”


Kaspare Cohn was born in Loebau, Prussia in 1839.

At the invitation of his cousin, Harris Newmark, Cohn arrived in the United States and headed to Los Angeles where he arrived in 1859, at the age of 20.

In Los Angeles he immediately went to work in Harris Newmark’s store, sleeping on the premises.

In 1864, Kaspare Cohn left employment of his uncle and went North to Red Bluff, California where he opened a crockery store. He returned to Los Angeles in 1866.

Here he entered into a partnership with Harris Newmark and his brother Samuel Cohn in grocery and dry goods wholesale/retail business which prospered.

In 1879, H. Newmark & Company was desolved.

A new patnership of Harris Newmark, Kaspare Cohn and Morris A. Newmark thrived.

A forward looking man, when the first telephone directory of Los Angeles came out, Kaspare Cohn’s number was listed as “43.”

That same year another firm was created, K. Cohn & Company, specializing in the collection and shipping of hides and wool.

In 1896 Kaspare Cohn was involved in the creation of the Pacific Wool Company that processed wool in “the most modern of ways.” Previously, all raw wool had to be shipped to San Francisco.


Real Estate

Like many pioneer merchants, Kaspare Cohn invested in real estate.

In 1887, records indicate he held $440 worth of real estate.

In 1894 he was recorded as holding property valued at $44, 530 – a 100 times increase!

In 1899 Harris Newmark and Kaspare Cohn owned and developed what is now known as the City of Montebello.

Harris Newmark and Kaspare Cohn invested $85,000 in the Santa Anita Ranch.

Two years later they sold it to “Lucky” Baldwin for $200,000 – in cash!



The Kaspare Cohn Bank, renamed Union Bank by His Sons after His Death

Kaspare Cohn dealt with many of the Basques who raised  sheep north of Los Angeles. Many of them would deposit their money with Cohn, creating an unofficial bank. Later, the Kaspare Cohn Commercial & Savings Bank was officially  incorporated in 1914. After Cohn’s death in 1916 his two sons changed the name of the bank to the Union Bank & Trust Company – Living Legacy #1


The Union Bank Today in Los Angeles

Advertisement for Kaspare Cohn Bank, Los Angeles, German Magazine

Advertisement for Kaspare Cohn Bank, Los Angeles, in Local German Magazine


Kaspare Cohn was extremely interested in Hydo-electric plants and natural gas.

He held interest in the San Gabriel Light & Power Company, the Southern California Gas Company, the Midway Gas Co. and more.

In 1889 Kaspare Cohn was listed as a Director of the Lowe Gas & Electric Company of Los Angeles.

The Pacific Light & Power Company, incorporated in 1902, included Kaspare Cohn as a Director.



When Congregation B’nai B’rith (now Wilshire Boulevard Temple), dedicated its second building at a cornerstone laying in 1896, Kaspare Cohn and others contributed the stained glass windows.

Congregation B’nai B’rith, Los Angeles, 2nd building, at 9th & Hope.

In 1900, Kaspar Cohn was elected President of Congregation B’nai B’rith, a position he held for ten years.

In 1902, Cohn led the movement to create a new Jewish cemetery in a “better” location. He purchased and donated 30 acres of land in East Los Angeles on Whittier Boulevard. Arrangements were made to transfer all remains and monuments from the old cemetery in Chavez Ravine to the current cemetery site in East Los Angeles, now called Home of Peace – Living Legacy #2

Cohn stepped down as President of Congregation B’nai B’rith in 1910, refusing to accept re-election.


Kaspare Cohn was a supported of many charities. He supported the Hebrew Benevolent Society throughout his life

He was also “Special Counselor” to the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society.

Mr. and Mrs. Cohn were part of the Organizing Committee for the California Jewish Orphans Home. Today it has evolved into Vista del Mar – Living Legacy #3

Cohn was a donor to the Hebrew Sheltering Association, today known as the Los Angeles Jewish Home (up until recently known as the Jewish Home for the Aging.) – Living Legend #4

In 1869 he helped in the formation of the Los Angeles Social Club and the California Club.


Original Kaspare Cohn Hospital on Carol Ave.

The Los Angeles Hospitals of Kaspare Cohn

In 1902 Cohn purchased and offered a two story house at 1443 Carroll Street to be converted into a hospital. The Kaspare Cohn Hospital was dedicated that same year. In its earliest years it was a Consumptive Hospital for Turberculosis – run by the Jewish Consumptive Relief Organization.

However, the City of Los Angeles decided to remove all tubercular facilities from within the Los Angeles City Limits. The Jewish Consumptive Relief Organization purchased 10 acres in Duarte, sixteen miles to the East, which eventually became the City of Hope – Livng Legacy #5.

The Kaspare Cohn Hospital reverted to a general “Jewish” hospital.

In 1910, the hospital relocated to a new brick building on Whittier Boulevard near Boyle Heights. At the annual meeting of 1913, Cohn presented his check for $5,300 that completely wiped out all the debts of the hospital.

When the hospital moved to its third location and even larger building at 4833 Fountain Avenue, the family requested that its name be changed to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital.

Today Cedars of Lebanon and the earlier Sinai Hospital make up the world famous Cedar-Sinai Medial Center – Living Legacy #6.

(Thank you – Six Legacies alive and well today! – Kaspare Cohn!)


Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, now the home of Scientology

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, from the Merger of Kaspare Cohn’s Cedars of Lebonon and Sinai Hospital.


Kaspare Cohn married Hulda Newmark  in 1872. She was the daughter of Joseph P. Newmark, brother of Harris Newmark.

Kaspare Cohn Portrait


Kaspare Cohn died in 1916

He was survived by his wife, Hulda, and his two daughters, Mrs. Ben Meyer and Mrs. Milton E. Getz.

 “The death of Kaspare Cohn marks the passing of one of the men who helped make Southern California what it is today. Kaspare Cohn has been named as one of the men  directly responsible for the development of Southern California.”

The Los Angeles Evening Herald


More information can be found in the following issues of Western States Jewish History:

  • Cohn, Kaspare; Kaspare Cohn: A Man Who Helped Make Southern California; Part 1; Southern California; Kramer, William M.; 23/3
  • Cohn, Kaspare; Kaspare Cohn: A Man Who Helped Make Southern California; Part 2; Southern California; Kramer, William M.; 23/4
  • Cohn, Kaspare; Notes from a Session with Edwin J. Loeb; LA; 1967; Norton Stern; 41/3
  • Cohn, Kaspare; Groundbreaking for the Kaspare Cohn Hospital “Cedars of Lebanon”, LA; 1929; Norton Stern; 41/3
  • Cohn, Kaspare; A Tribute; Kramer, William M.; 23/4

Kaspare Cohn Photo Gallery

Kaspare Cohn Plaque in the lobby of the main Los Angeles offices of the Union Bank in Los Angeles.


More Early Los Angeles Jewish Pioneers

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