From the Archives: Bunnie Burns evicted from Bunker Hill hotel

June 3, 1969: Bunnie Burns in her eighth-floor room in the condemned Northern Hotel on Bunker Hill shortly before she left with two sheriff's deputies.
(Frank Q. Brown / Los Angeles Times)

In the June 4, 1969, Los Angeles Times, staff writer Robert Kistler reported:

The eviction of Bunnie Burns from the Northern Hotel on Bunker Hill Tuesday required:

–A sheriff’s inspector, two helmeted deputies, a female deputy, a sheriff’s captain and two deputies in “public relations”;

–Plus Robert G. Clayton, property manager for the entire Community Redevelopment Agency (the urban renewal people), two CRA case workers, and an inventory-taker;


–And a 76-year-old blind man named Burt Wilson.

It didn’t take more because Bunnie Burns — after refusing to leave for five weeks — decided, as one deputy put it, “to go peaceable.”

Since April 26, Bunnie Burns — the only resident of the 180-room hotel — had refused to open the door to her eighth floor room to anybody.

The slender, 120-pound woman — a resident of the 56-year-old hotel since 1952 — said she had been told by God to stay in her room because it was, she still believes, “the seat of my beautiful ministry here.”

“God,” Bunnie once told a reporter, “told me in 1964 never to set foot out of this hotel, but to keep my room like a living garden in witness to the Lord, and that people would come to me.”

And that’s about the way it happened.


Bunnie said she was still “deep in my prayers” Tuesday morning when the people came: a good portion of the sheriff’s department and an equal cadre of nervous CRA officials.

They were nervous, they admitted, because they didn’t know what Bunnie was going to do.

The “bad guy” role fell to Sheriff’s Inspector Joseph Brady, a kindly man who — after two days of talks with Bunnie on the telephone — had developed something of a sympathy for the distraught woman.

Brady summoned Bunnie’s longtime friend, Burt Wilson, by cab from the Rossiter Hotel Apartments.

As soon as Burt entered Bunnie’s 8-by-10-foot room on the eighth floor, a little after 10 a.m., they both started, as Inspector Brady recalled, “talking excitedly.”


“That was just the Lord speakin’ through each of us,” Burt corrected later.

The deputies and the CRA people stood around for an hour or so while Burt and Bunnie waited, as Burt said, “for the Good word.”

Then, Joe Brady finally said it was time to leave.

Bonnie walked to the elevator with two deputies and Burt Wilson and was taken to the Astor Hotel, where CRA people had made arrangements for her to stay.

The Astor, at 2nd and Hill Sts., is a block the the hill from the soon-to-be demolished Northern.

She paid the first week’s rent — $19 — with two crisp $10 bills. Then she went up to the third floor.


“This room is so lonely and bare,” she said to a friend.

“But, you come back one day and — if I’m still here — I’ll have it decorated with all my pretty flowers and other living things and it’ll be like a garden again.”

June 3, 1969: Bunnie Burns, center, is escorted from the Northern Hotel by sheriff's deputies.
June 3, 1969: Bunnie Burns, center, is escorted from the Northern Hotel by sheriff’s deputies.
(Frank Q. Brown / Los Angeles Times)
May 16, 1969: Henry Scott, 64, plant engineer at the Northern Hotel, sits in the lobby of the Bunker Hill building awaiting the eviction of Bunnie Burns, the last resident who refused to leave.
(Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times)

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