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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Glassell Park

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 5, 2014 03:42pm | Post a Comment

BREADBASKETS AND HEAD GASKETS -- GLASSELL PARK




This entry of California Fool's Gold is about the Los Angeles neighborhood of Glassell Park, a working class neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles. Glassell Park's neighbors are the neighborhoods of Eagle Rock to the east, Mount Washington to the southeast, Cypress Park to the south, Elysian Valley to the southwest, Atwater Village to the west, and the Glendale neighborhoods of Adams Hill, Somerset, and Tropico to the north. 
 



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's maps (prints available from 1650 Gallery)

Sometime around the 1970s, a distinct Northeast Los Angeles began to emerge. Back then, the NELA 13 gang coined an acronym that their members couldn't have known would turn into a hip branding tool used to market luxury (yet freeway-adjacent) townhomes promising "modern living" in the form of a private dog park and two-car garages. Elsewhere in the neighborhood today, incongruous McMansions are improbably squeezed into tiny lots formerly occupied by tasteful Craftsman homes. 

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Rose Hill

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 21, 2014 06:11pm | Post a Comment
WITH SHANTY PADS SQUATTING ON MUD HILLS



Back in 2012 I had an opportunity to house-and-pet-sit for friends in El Sereno. Pulled along by the homeowners' dog, Dooley, I explored much of that neighborhood – the easternmost in the city – on a series of long, daily strolls. In the fall of 2013 I returned once more to the Eastside and again we resumed our explorations, only this time we branched out, exploring the communities of Arroyo View Estates, East Los Angeles, City Terrace, Garvanza, Happy Valley, Highland Park, Hillside Village, Lincoln Heights, Monterey Hills, University Hills, and on one drizzly, late autumn morning, Rose Hill.

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Rose Hill should not to be confused with Rose Hills – a small community in the Puente Hills north of Whittier. Rose Hill (almost always singular although occasionally and confoundingly plural) is in Los Angeles's Eastside and is bordered by Lincoln Heights to the southwest, Happy Valley to the west, El Sereno to the east, and Montecito Heights and Monterey Hills to the north. An obscure neighborhood, Rose Hill is often lumped in with Montecito Heights, less often with El Sereno, and still-less-often with Lincoln Heights. It is occasionally (but absolutely incorrectly) referred to as being in East Los Angeles -- an unincorporated area that is not synonymous with the Eastside (which refers to the Los Angeles neighborhoods east of the Los Angeles River).


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Rose Hill

Rose Hill is a mostly residential neighborhood with Hungtington Drive serving as its high street since its development as a streetcar suburb over 100 years ago. Rose Hill may surprise visitors unfamiliar with the city services-neglected Eastside with just how rural and undeveloped so much of it is. The often trash-strewn hillsides are traversed with crumbling or simply dirt (or mud after an overnight rain) roads and modest homes routinely guarded by insanely aggressive dogs. That being said, there are also attractive, well-kept homes, interesting buildings, friendly residents, murals, and thanks to a largely-ignored history, a sense that there's much to discover throughout the community.


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EARLY HISTORY OF THE AREA

The Rose Hill community is nestled in the low, rolling hills at the northwest end of the Repetto Hills, which stretch from the vicinity of the San Rafael Hills, Elysian Hills, and Arroyo Seco to the Whittier Narrows and San Gabriel River at the other end and in doing so delineate the San Gabriel Valley. The cluster of hills in Monterey Park on one end and the Monterey Hills neighborhood on the other. The earliest known human inhabitants of the area were likely the ancestors to today's Chumash people. They lived in the area at least 13,000 years ago.

Some 10,000 years later, a Shoshonean language-speaking people arrived from the Sonoran Desert to the east and eventually became the Tongva nation. Near the present location of Rose Hill, the Tongva established the village of Otsungna, meaning “Place of roses.” In the other direction was the village of Yaangna, meaning "Place of poison oak."


SPANISH & MEXICAN ERA

The Tongva reign ended shortly after Spaniard Gaspar de Portolà's overland expedition passed through the area in 1769, an event which set the stage for the Spanish Conquest and the subjugation of the Native American population. The conquerors first constructed their Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in 1771, in the Whittier Narrows region. To remove it from the threat of flooding, they relocate the mission to its present location in San Gabriel in 1776 – roughly nine kilometers east of what is now Rose Hill.

In 1781, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula was founded eight kilometers to the southwest of Rose Hill's location. The easternmost boundary of the pueblo's historic holdings is formed by Boundary Avenue, which runs straight into Rose Hill Park. To the east were lands that after conquest became controlled by the Mission. Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. The Spanish missions were secularized and the land containing modern day Rose Hill was granted to Juan Ballesteros in 1831. Ballesteros named his acquisition Rancho Rosa Castilla.


EARLY AMERICAN ERA

The United States conquered Alta California in 1848 but the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo required that pre-existing land grants would be honored. In the case of Rosa Castilla, the grant was rejected and in 1852 the land thus became the property of Basque sheep herders Jean-Baptiste and Catalina Batz. In 1882, after both had died, the Batz's holdings were divided among six of their children.


GETTING TO ROSE HILL


Detail of a Pacific Electric map of Los Angeles map (1920) 

Although Los Angeles is often inaccurately characterized as having primarily developed around the automobile, it did in fact developed around the train. In 1901 Henry E. Huntington (nephew and heir to Southern Pacific Railroad founder Collis P. Huntington) launched the Pacific Electric Railway, which at its peak became the world's largest network of interurban rail. Beginning in 1920, the red cars of its Sierra Vista Line traveled up Huntington Drive to Sierra Vista Junction, at the edge of what's now El Sereno and Alhambra. The Rose Hill stop was located at the intersection of Huntington and Monterey Road where a local bus then departed north up that street.


THE ROSE HILL TRACT 

 
Advertisements for Grider & Hamilton's Rose Hill subdivision


The site of the Rose Hill Tract was chosen due to its accessibility to and by public transit. The primary developer responsible for it was Leroy M. Grider. In 1857, Grider had moved to Los Angeles with his family. He began his foray into real estate with the establishment of L. M. Grider & Co. in Downey in 1886. He changed partners and locations over the years, forming Grider & Hamilton in 1902. On 3 October, 1904, Grider & Hamilton put up 132 lots of their streetcar suburb for sale, advertising it as being just twelve minutes to Downtown via Red Car. In Grider's obituary he was described as being the first developer to sell neighborhoods via the “excursion method,” in which saw he transported potential homeowners via streetcar to then-new toonervilles where they would additionally plied with free BBQ. Grider also served on Los Angeles City Council and after retiring from both politics and real estate, opened a pet store called Birdland.


ROSE HILL SCHOOL - HUNTINGTON DRIVE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL


Huntington Drive School -- fka Rose Hill School

Grider & Hamilton's lots sold quickly and the first community school, known as Rose Hill School, opened in 1909. In 1928, some years after Rose Hill was annexed by Los Angeles, it was renamed Huntington Drive School, and later, Huntington Drive Elementary School.


ANNEXATION OF ROSE HILL

That just-mentioned annexation of the then-young Rose Hill took place on 9 February, 1912, when the Los Angeles expanded northeasterly with its Arroyo Seco Addition. That annexation moved the city's easternmost edge to its present location. A few years later, in 1915, The Bairdstown Addition – which includes the bulk of modern day El Sereno – followed, and proved to be the city's final eastern annexation.


OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE – ROSE HILL


Our Lady of Guadalupe – Rose Hill


The roots of Rose Hill's Our Lady of Guadalupe – Rose Hill church were in the Sacred Heart Parish, which was established in 1921. In 1924 that congregation changed its name to Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission. In 1957 a school, Our Lady of Guadalupe School – Rose Hill, was added to the church.


ROSE HILL PHARMACY


Rose Hill Pharmacy

Rose Hill Pharmacy used to stand at 4543 Huntington Drive (at the intersection with Monterey Road -- where a self-cleaning restroom labeled "Rose Hills/El Sereno" now stands). On Christmas Eve of 1926, William Edward Hickman and his accomplice Welby L. Hunt attempted a hold-up of the pharmacy that was interrupted by a cop walking in. A shoot-put ensued in which the store proprietor, 24-year-old Clarence Ivy Toms, was shot in the chest and killed. Hickman would go on to commit one of Los Angeles's most well-known and heinous crimes, the kidnapping and murder of young Marion Baker. He was hanged in 1928. I'm not sure when the pharmacy was demolished.


MEXICAN-AMERICANS IN ROSE HILL

The transformation of Sacred Heart Parish into Our Lady of Guadalupe just a few years later is probably a reflection of an early, significant demographic shift. Beginning in 1910, the Mexican Revolution provided ample reason for many Mexicans to immigrate to Los Angeles. Before Sonoratown transformed into Little Italy, many of Los Angeles's Mexican-Americans lived around Downtown and Boyle Heights. After the advent of the revolution, new barrios were established in places like Belvedere and later other pockets of the Eastside beyond Boyle Heights.

In 1928, the Pacific Electric Railway chose Rose Hill Park as the site of the annual work party for its Mexican-American employees (Anglo workers' party was thrown in Redondo Beach). It's no coincidence that the dates of the Mexican Repatriation correspond almost exactly to those of the Great Depression, which both increased Mexicans' impetus for leaving Mexico and for American hostility towards immigrants. From 1929 until 1939 (not coincidentally when the US entered World War II), around 2 million Mexican-Americans (in many cases US citizens) were forcibly deported to Mexico – thousands from the US. Photos of Rose Hill in the 1940s and '50s suggest that the population was then home to both large percentages of Anglos and Latinos.


ROSE HILL COURTS


Rose Hill Courts

The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) formed in 1938 seemingly with the admirable goal of providing safe, affordable housing to Los Angeles's poorest inhabitants. Soon after, in the name of “slum clearance,” several (invariably minority) communities were leveled and replaced with new housing projects. The first such housing project was Ramona Gardens in Boyle Heights. During World War II, more project construction continued with Aliso Village, Estrada Courts, and Pico Gardens (all in Boyle Heights), Avalon Gardens (in Green Meadows), Hacienda Village (in Watts), Pueblo del Rio (in Central-Alameda), Rancho San Pedro (in San Pedro), and Rose Hill Courts, built in Rose Hill in 1942.


Rose Hill Courts landscape

Rose Hill Courts were designed by architects W.F. Ruck and Claud Beelman. The design of the garden apartments also involved the input of landscape architects, in Rose Hill's case, London-born Hammond Sadler. After starting with the Olmsted Brothers, Hammond went on to establish his own firm and in addition to designing the grounds at Rose Hill was responsible for those at Estrada Courts and Wyvernwood in Boyle Heights, and the Jordan Downs renovation in Watts.


A view of Rose Hill Courts from above

After the passage of the 1949 Federal Housing Act, there was a second wave of public housing construction which saw the opening of Mar Vista Gardens in Culver City, Nickerson Gardens in Watts, and San Fernando Gardens in Pacoima. Tiny Rose Hill Courts, built with just 100 units, were planned to be part of a massive expansion into the mostly uninhabited area to the north then known as Monterey Woods, creating 2,100 additional units of affordable housing.  The Rose Hill Courts expansion was scuppered (along with the better-known Elysian Park Heights in Chavez Ravine) when right wing forces successfully convinced those in power that affordable housing (often for war vets) was a "socialistic" attack on the American Way.


Two residences that look to me as if they were at one time stores 


Brick building on Huntington from 1922


ROSE HILL GANG

After World War II, most of the non-Latino residents of the Eastside began to move elsewhere. Most Jews moved west, most Italians moved east, and most blacks moved south. As with Happy Valley, Rose Hill had acquired a reputation as a Mexican-American barrio.

As early as 1939 there was already a record of a Happy Valley-Rose Hill pachuco gang. A 1941 picture of the so-called slum on Rose Hill's Victorine Street (taken to lend support for slum clearance and the construction of the projects) depicts a well-dressed, smiling, young Latino cradling a child in his arms and bears the caption, “gang leader.”

According to one source, the Rose Hill Boys split into their own club over a high school football rivalry with kids involved in Lincoln Heights' Eastlake Locos. As they battled Anglo servicemen and gangs from El Sereno they evolved into a street gang.


ELDRIDGE CLEAVER  

In 1946, the most famous resident of Rose Hill moved to the neighborhood with his family – future author and Black Panther Eldrige Cleaver. Among other subjects, Cleaver often documented his childhood in Rose Hill, which he described in 1978's Soul on Fire as “one of these old, proud Chicano communities, like Mara, Happy Valley, Alpine, and so on” that “boasted one of the fiercest gangs in Los Angeles.” In Target Zero: A Life in Writing, however, Cleaver painted a gentler image of the neighborhood with an untitled poem that includes the lines, “No smog in Rose Hill/ Far from the industrial heart of Los Angeles/ A forgotten hamlet/ A peaceful spot/ site of home.” For those playing at home, the title of this blog entry is taken from that same poem.


ROSE HILL TODAY

Although Eldridge Cleaver wrote of Rose Hill's then-growing black population and their efforts to establish a local church, today black Angelenos make up only about 3% of Rose Hill's neighborhood population. The white Anglo population is only about 8%, the Asian population is roughly 12%, and the Latino population about 77%. Although almost entirely residential although there are a few businesses situated mostly along Hungtington Drive.


ROSE HILL EATS


El Palenque and the sleeping Mexican


As far as I know there is currently only one restaurant in Rose Hill, El Palenque. Judging by the décor and reviews, it serves Northern Mexican food. If Yelp reviews are anything to go by (and they're usually but not always not), it's pretty decent food at that. A mural on one of it's walls depicts the dated-but-still-popular image of a Mexican peasant improbably enjoying  siesta against a saguaro.


La Milpa by Los Diego's 


The mural on the back of the restaurant is far more unique. Attributed to “Los Diego's," La Milpa is a cosmic-Mesoamerican educational mural that covers the entire wall.

In addition to El Palenque, there's also a market called Fresco Foods Super Mercado that seems to be unrelated to the newer, Fresco Community Market that opened up the street and over the hill in nearby Hermon.


GETTING THERE AND GETTING AROUND


Pretty sad Metro stop at the base of Buffalo Gourd and Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos Hill

Pacific Electric train service to Rose Hill ended in 1951 but the Metro 78/79/378 line serves pretty much the same route. Rose Hill is also served by Metro lines 252 and 256.

Rose Hill proved to be one of the least-easily-walked neighborhoods that I've yet explored – made more difficult by rain that had fallen the night before. Firstly, there are numerous "paper streets" – streets that exist only on maps (both paper and online). Secondly, existing streets are often in extremely poor condition -- in many cases nothing more than dirt roads. Parts of Rose Hill Drive make Bolivia's Camino de las Yungas look positively well-maintained.

A muddy trail that leads to the narrowest gate at the end of a cul-de-sac

Rose Hill Drive -- held together by a soggy carpet patch


There are several public staircases which, since the publication of Charles Flemming's book Secret Stairs, have seemingly catalyzed a real revival in their usage. His book includes a walk, Walk #10, titled “Happy Valley and Montecito Heights” that includes stairs in Rose Hill (and is rated 5 out of 5 in difficulty). The most impressive stairway in Rose Hill is the 223-stair Tourmaline Stairway, which connects Tourmaline Street below to Rose Hill Drive above.


The bottom of Tourmaline Street Stairs 


The top of the Tourmaline Street Stairs


Other stairs are not so great. Dooley and I trudged up a rain-and-mud slickened stairwell that Google Maps showed connecting to a street, but which in fact dead ended behind someone's back yard. Facing no alternative but to return down the slippery steps, I did so as Dooley eagerly pulled downward. After losing my footing I might very well have added my own spilled brains to the garbage-covered hillside were it not for my anorak's hood getting caught on a rusty stair rail. 


Stairway to Heaven (or Hell)


ROSE HILL PARKS



Unfortunately I wasn't able to determine exactly when Rose Hill Park opened although train maps from the 1930s include it. Around the time that the expansion of Rose Hill Courts was shot down, the former Monterey Woods area broke ground as Rose Hill Regional Park.

Rose Hill Regional Park was renamed Ernest E. Debs Regional Park (described by various sources as Los Angeles's second or third largest park although it's certainly smaller than Griffith Park, Elysian Park, and O'Melveny Park). Today it seems to be more often associated with Montecito Heights than Rose Hill. Nonetheless it blends almost seemlessly into Rose Hill Park and is easily accessed from the neighborhood.

Rose Hill graffiti on a tree? A trail in Debs Park


Native American Terraced Garden

The Native American Terraced Garden
, in fact, is more easily accessed from Rose Hill than any other neighborhood. It's located just east of Rose Hill Court. 

Rose Hill Recreation Center

Rose Hill is also home to Rose Hill Recreation Center. I'm not sure when it was constructed or the park on which its built opened. Anyone?


FILM & MUSIC OF ROSE HILL




My research was unable to locate any filmmakers or actors from Rose Hill. I was, however, able to find one filming location at the neighorhood's edge. Soto Street Bridge, constructed for the old rails that formerly traveled up Huntington Drive, is where the 1958 Plymouth Fury known as “Christine” hung out before killing Moochie in the John Carpenter film, Christine (1983).


Rock N Roll (crossed out) and Dooley

I also wasn't able to find any musicians from the neighborhood, although someone on Street Gangs mentioned a local rapper known as 2 Real who apparently has a song “The Outta Towners.” Even though in a square of the sidewalk in front of Rose Hill Rec Center someone wrote “Rock N Roll” and crossed it out – or had it crossed out – there are undoubtedly some rockers in the neighborhood too so please let me know of them in the comment section.




MORE ROSE HILL

I wasn't able to find any great histories of just Rose Hill. The Los Angeles Public Library has a pretty great collection of historical photos from Rose Hill. To see them, click here. If you know of any other sources, please share them in the comment section.


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As always, I welcome corrections, additions, and personal accounts of Rose Hill experiences. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be the subject of a future piece, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities and neighborhoods, vote here

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Garvanza

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 15, 2014 12:57pm | Post a Comment
GARVANZA RAMBLE


Dooley striking a pose on the sidewalk in front of a Garvanza sign

In the fall of 2012 I had the opportunity to house-sit in El Sereno. During my stint in Los Angeles's easternmost neighborhood, I spent much of that time exploring that neighborhood with a good-natured dog named Dooley. This past fall I again returned to the Eastside to house-sit once again and Dooley and I resumed our epic explorations. This time around we explored more than just El Sereno, extending our rambles into the nearby neighborhoods of Arroyo View Estates, City Terrace, East Los Angeles, Happy Valley, Hermon, Highland Park, Hillside Village, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Monterey Hills, Rose Hill, University Hills, and on one warm autumn afternoon, Garvanza.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map pf Garvamza

Garvanza is a small neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles often considered to be part of Highland Park. To its north are Arroyo View Estates and the city of Pasadena, to the northwest is Annadale (even more often considered to be part of Highland Park than Garvanza), to the west and south is Highland Park proper, to the southwest is Mount Angelus (yet another neighborhood almost always considered to be part of Highland Park), and across the Arroyo Seco to the east is the city of South Pasadena. The population is of Garvanza today is roughly 61% Latino, 24% white, 12% Asian, and 2% black.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Northeast Los Angeles (Monterey Hills has been added since)

The original borders of the neighborhood were Crescent to the north Figueroa to the west, Arroyo Glen to the south, and the slope east of Avenue 66 to the east. Soon after its foundation, however, the northern border was moved to Meridian and other tracts, such as Cheviotdale, Eleanore, Garvanza Vista, Lindsay Olive Orchard, Morrison's Floral Glen, Nithsdale, Parkdale, Parkdale Heights, San Rafael Terrace, Singer, Lewis, and The Chites, Myers, and Kulli Tract soon expanded the community's borders.  


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EARLY HISTORY OF THE AREA

The earliest human inhabitants of the area were likely the ancestors of the Chumash people, who lived in the area at least as early as 13,000 years ago. A mere 10,000 years later a band of immigrants arrived from the Sonoran Desert to the east and either displaced or were absorbed into the indigenous population. These people, now usually referred to as the Tongva, established major villages nearby including Hahamongna, Otsungna, and Yangna.


SPANISH & MEXICAN ERA

The Tongva's reign ended shortly after Spaniard Gaspar de Portolà's overland expedition passed through the area in 1769, an event which set the stage for the Spanish Conquest. In 1771, the European conquerors constructed the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel -- first in what's now known as Whittier Narrows. In 1776 the mission was moved to its present location in San Gabriel, nine kilometers to the southeast of what's now Garvanza. A few years later, in 1781, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula was founded ten kilometers to the southwest. The land that now is part of Garvanza was part of a huge 36,000 acre territory granted in 1784 to Spanish soldier José María Verdugo, who named the land "Rancho San Rafael." Verdugo died in 1831, ten years after New Spain became part of the new nation of Mexico. After his death, Verdugo's land holdings passed to his son and daughter.


EARLY AMERICAN ERA


Sheep grazing near Frances Campbell-Johnston's Church of Angels ca. 1889

America conquering Alta California in 1848 didn't end the Verdugo's possession of San Rafael but a rather a defaulted loan did. In 1869, nineteen years after California became one of the United States, a portion of the rancho was purchased at a sheriff's auction by Albert B. Chapman and Andrew Glassell Jr. The two leased the land to sheepherders, whose animals must've grazed the supposedly-once-prevalent chickpeas rumored to have been planted by Verdugo (and from which Garvanza gets its name) out of existence.


BIRTH OF GARVANZA -- OR GARVANZO


Los Angeles and San Gabriel Railroad bridge under construction over the Arroyo Seco (1885)

In 1885, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway arrived in the area via an Arroyo Seco-spanning bridge built for the recently-acquired Los Angeles and San Gabriel Railroad, a move which at once both ended Southern Pacific's monopoly on the area and instigated a rate war which saw ticket prices from Kansas City, Missouri drop to just $1. That, in turn, helped fuel a housing boom and demand for land.


The Garvanza Hotel (1887)

Highland Park was established in 1886. That same year Ralph and Edward Rogers established "The Town of Garvanzo" because why not name your town after a legume with a rumored historical presence? The first home built in Garvanzo (or Garvanza -- early spelling variations seem to have quickly settled on the latter) was Andrew Glassell's, built in 1885 at the corner of Avenue 64 and Roble Street. After the subdivision of the land, a few more followed. The grandest new structure was the Garvanza Villa Hotel -- a grand Victorian lodge designed by Boring and Haas. The short-lived boom went bust in 1888 and residential development in the tiny village ground to a halt -- although Garvanza's handsome two-story schoolhouse was completed in 1889.


ANNEXATION


Detail of LA Travel and Hotel Bureau's Map of Los Angeles, California Rail Systems (1906)

Highland Park was annexed by Los Angeles in 1895. In 1898, the Garvanza Improvement Association formed to promote the paving of streets and planting of trees in community. Garvanza remained its own municipality until 1899, when it too was annexed. After that, Garvanza was the northeasternmost corner of Northeast Los Angeles until 1912, when the Arroyo Seco Addition added a small buffer to Garvanza's north and east. 

Detail of J.R. Prince's Territory Annexed to Los Angeles, 1781-1916 (source: Big Maps Blog)

In a sense, Garvanza was annexed for a second time in 1922. That year the community joined Annandale, Hermon, Sycamore Grove, and York Valley in joining the Greater Highland Park Association and therein surrendering their individual identities. Their efforts to advance their lot by banding together behind Highland Park came to little against the onslaught of the Great Depression.


View of the Arroyo Seco Park and Channel looking northeast after the construction of the Pasadena Freeway, ca.1941

Not all construction stopped during that era, however, as two major public works were completed in the 1930s. The Arroyo Seco below Devil's Gate Dam (built in 1920 by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District) was paved and channelized, between 1935 and 1940, by Works Progress Administration crews. At the same time, the adjacent Pasadena Freeway (now the Arroyo Seco Parkway) was being constructed and opened in 1940.

After the Depression and World War II ended, many of the original residents of Garvanza and their descendants moved away to newer suburbs -- particularly those in the San Fernando Valley and Orange County. With their departure, the Garvanza name seems to have almost vanished -- although it was kept alive by Garvanza Elementary, Garvanza Foursquare Church, Garvanza Hardware, Garvanza Park as well as by historians, who when writing about the area, sometimes included phrases like "in what was formerly Garvanza." Thanks to the efforts of The Highland Park Heritage Trust, Garvanza was officially recognized as a neighborhood once more by the City of Los Angeles in 1997.

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GARVANZA ART SCENE


A modern mural at Burbank Middle School

Northeast Los Angeles and the communities along the Arroyo Seco have long been known for their vibrant arts scene, which was in its early years dominated by plein air painters of California Impressionism and members of the California Arts & Crafts Movement. The Garvanza Circle included Carl Oscar Borg, Elmer Wachtel, Fernand Lungren, Granville Redmond, Hanson Puthuff, and Maynard Dixon. In 1906, a group of local artists organized The Painters' Club of Los Angeles. In 1909, that organization was disbanded and its members formed the California Art Club, which remains active today. From 1909 until 1915, Garvanza was home to The Arroyo Guild of Craftsman.


A mural created by several artists and the Hathaway Family Resource Center


JUDSON STUDIO and the LOS ANGELES SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS

A beautiful building standing near the intersection of Avenue 66 and Roble Avenue houses Judson Studios. The building and others associated with the Judson family business have a somewhat complicated history that I will attempt to delineate as clearly as possible. 


Professor Judson's College of Fine Arts building at the USC, ca.1910
In 1895, Mancunian-American painter William Lees Judson was chosen to head USC's art department. In 1901 he became dean of the College of Fine Arts which met in an Islamic-inspired building (pictured above) in Garvanza that unfortunately burned to the ground in 1910. Beginning in 1909, Judson had additionally headed the Arroyo Guild of Fellow Craftsmen, whose nearby guild hall survived the fire unscathed. After the fire until 1920, when USC moved to University Park in South Los Angeles, the building was home to the USC's School of Fine Arts


In 1897, after his father William Lees Judson convinced him to move west from St. Louis, Missouri, William Horace Judson founded The Colonial Glass Company in Downtown Los Angeles. In 1906 the company changed its name to the W.H. Judson Art Glass Company. In 1920, the glass company relocated to Garvanza, where it remains (although the company's name was shortened simply to "Judson Studios" in 1931). In 1969 the building faced possible demolition and saved by being named a Historic-Cultural Landmark (and later listed on the National Register of Historic Places). 

OTHER GARVANZA STRUCTURES OF NOTE


Though small, Garvanza is simply home to too much interesting architecture to mention it all here. The Highland Park-Garvanza Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (the largest in Los Angeles) includes examples of Mission Revival, Shingle, and Tudor Revival homes as well as quite a few Queen Anne and Craftsman structures as well. I will mention just  few of my favorites, then:


The Dr. Williams Residence - The folk Victorian known as the Dr. Williams Residence was apparently built as a "speculation house" in 1886. It's named after the doctor who purchased it in 1936. It was originally owned by a Dr. John Lawrence Smith, one of the founders of the Garvanza Improvement Association. Back in November, Una and I toured the renovated home and it was pretty cool.

The Dr. Franklin S. Whaley Residence - Franklin Whaley was the first physician in Garvanza. His Italianate home was built in 1887. The Dr. Franklin S. Whaley Residence (not pictured) was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 528 in 1991.


The McClure House

The McClure House - The McClure House is, at least from the outside, one of the real gems of Garvanza. Its architect was James H. Bradbeer (of Bradbeer and Ferris). William F. McClure was a civil engineer and director of both a railway and the Garvanza Land Company. The home was completed in 1889.


Pisgah Home (image source: Wikipedia)

The Pisgah Faith Home - The Pisgah Home movement was a faith healing cult led by Finis E. Yoakum in the early 1900s. Yoakum was injured in a buggy accident in 1894 and the following year moved to Los Angeles to recuperate. In 1897 he claimed to have discovered a way to prospect for gold using x-rays and subsequently offered stock in his new mining company. After first speaking in tongues whilst pursuing mining interests in Mexico, Yoakum began referring to his Garvanza home as Yoakum's Sanatorium, where he purported to reform "drunkards and outcasts." In 2000, the Pisgah Home received a preservation grant from the Getty Trust and in 2007 was added to the National Register of Historic Places.


Abbey San EncinoClyde Browne was an Ohio-born printer/typographer. Around 1902, Browne and his wife moved to Los Angeles where he began working for the Los Angeles Examiner in 1904.After leaving the paper, he co-founded the printing firm of Browne and Cartwright in 1910. For more than thirty years they  printed USC's The Daily Trojan and The Occidental Weekly

In 1915 Browne began building the Abbey San Encino on his property out of found and scavenged materials. He even built a small-gauge rail to carry stones from the Arroyo Seco. It was mostly completed by 1921 but the family didn't move in until 1926.
Clyde Browne's son, Clyde Jack Browne, continued to work in the newspaper business -- although he developed an interest in jazz and was apparently a talented musician. Browne was stationed in Germany during the 1940s on a job assignment with the Stars and Stripes newspaper and it was there that his wife gave birth to their sons, Jackson and Edward Severin Browne. The two brothers, who grew up to be musicians of note, were raised alongside their sisters, Roberta and Gracie, in Abbey San Encino. The cover of Jackson Browne's second album, For Everyman, is a photo of the courtyard of the Abbey which, on the day of my most recent visit, appears to still be undergoing repairs. 

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Ruins of the Tower of Amon Sûl?


Typical Garvanza homes


GARVANZA CHURCHES


Church of the Angels (annexed by Pasadena)

As Dooley and I explored tiny Garvanza, we occasionally found that we'd strayed into other neighborhoods. First we crossed into Arroyo View Estates -- a neighborhood of 1960s ranch homes that looks quite unlike Garvanza. Thinking that we were back in Garvanza, I approached the Church of Angels as its bells chimed 3:00. The charming church was built in 1889, when the area was part of Garvanza. However, it was long ago annexed by Pasadena -- as part of the Cheviotdale Heights Annexation of 1923.


Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church - Dooley and I found ourselves standing in front of The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church when the bells chimed 3:30. Built in 1922, it's the oldest of the English District's (a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod thing) churches in California.



Hansammul Church 

Hansammul Church - When Dooley and I arrived at Hansammul Church it was 4:00 but no bells chimed. The church was built in 1940.


Garvanza Foursquare Church (image source: Floyd B. Bariscale)

Garvanza Foursquare Church - The Garvanza Foursquare Church, also known as "The Lighthouse," was was built in 1908.


PARKS


Garvanza Park sign


Another view of Garvanza Park

Garvanza Park - The main park in Garvanza is Garvanza Park, a fairly small park that's dominated by a baseball diamond and the old Garvanza Pumping Station and Highland Reservoir, which was designated Los Angeles Historic Cultural Momument #4112 in 1989. In 2007, a skate park opened within the park.


San Pascual Park

San Pascual Park - There's also San Pascual Park. Though located on the west bank of the Arroyo Seco, it's mostly located within South Pasadena. As Dooley and I explored the park, we passed a group of day-drinkers on the Garvanza side of the park and after crossing into South Pasadena, saw a group of people playing baseball. Closer to the Arroyo Seco, along which the park is situated, we encountered a seemingly friendly hermit living in a lean-to.

Highland Park Adult Senior Citizens Center -  There's also the Highland Park Adult Senior Citizens Center, the name of which begs the question -- are there senior citizens who aren't adults? A banner proclaims "seniors welcome" which I assume means that junior citizens are not so all I could do was stare through the fence at the rose garden, a sign reading "Shuffleboard Club," and an auditorium that hosts bingo.


MUSIC & FILM OF GARVANZA

Other than Jackson and Severin Browne, my research didn't turn up any Garvanza-associated musicians. Walking in Los Angeles one is constantly exposed to all sorts of music from Chinese Opera, to Armenian dance musicbanda, trival, and hip-hop. As I walked along I encountered a man sitting on a porch listening to La Ranchera 930 -- Los Angeles's only ranchera station (it's my belief that Los Angeles's AM band is vastly more interesting than the FM band). Other signs of music included a skater in an AC/DC T-shirt and a woman walking a bulldog rocking a Notorious B.I.G. T-shirt depicting the rapper wearing a golden crown. None of these talents are Garvanza natives, though. So as usual, if any readers know of and filmmakers, actors or musicians born in Garvanza, please let me know in the comment section. Same goes for films or television set in and/or filmed in Garvanza.

Update: Daniel J. W!shington (ne Daniel Joseph), Surprise Vacation, Stalefish's Daniel Wong, and Gimme Gimme Records owner Dan Cook are all based in Garvanza although I'm not sure if any, besides apparently Surprise Vacation, are actually from the neighborhood originally. 


GETTING THERE AND GETTING AROUND


A stairway connecting Lantana Drive and Avenue 64

Being as small as it is, Garvanza is easily walkable and bikeable. Walkscore gives the neighborhood a walk score of 75, a bike score of 68, and a transit score of 41. It's served by Metro's 81, 176, and 256 lines as well as LA DOT DASH Highland Park/Eagle Rock line. Exploring the neighborhood I spied some of the old Los Angeles Railway tracks that once brought Yellow Cars and their passengers to and from the area. Although today the Metro Gold Line passes through the neighborhood, its nearest stop is Highland Park Station (located less than a kilometer outside of Garvanza).


Hough Street Stairs in Garvanza

There are also public stairs, which have become popular destinations in and of themselves since the publication of Charles Fleming's book, Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles. I'm not sure if Garvanza is included in the book but there are plenty of public stairs in the vicinity. The Hough Street Stairs were long ago artistically tiled by students from San Pascual Elementary.


A view of the tiles of Hough Street Stairs (and Dooley's hind quarters)

There are also efforts by Caltrans and Metro to extend the 710 freeway north to either the 2 or 134 Freeways. In 1997 a group of activists prevented the 710 from extending beyond its northern terminus at the intersection of Alhambra, El Sereno and University Hills. Two of the options that are being considered would extend the 710 through Garvanza. As I walked around I counted 8 "Stop the 710" banners and none in its favor. 


One of the many Stop the 710 banners


GARVANZA EATS (AND DRINKS)


OK Chinese and the Dr. John Lawrence Smith Residence, visible in the background

Early in its history, Gavanza was promoted with (among other methods) all-you-can-eat BBQs. There's still BBQ today -- at Bro's BBQHighland Park Din Din a Go-Go is a rally of food trucks that takes place in the neighborhood. There's also Donut Star, Italiano's Pizza, La Perla Bakery, Mando's Family Restaurant, Martha's Mexican food truck, My Taco, OK Chinese Restaurant, Penny's Burgers, and Super Panda.

There are also a few markets including A's Market, Cali-Mex Family Market, Hi Ho Market, and Uno Produce Market No. 5. There's only one bar that I know of that's located in Garvanza -- Dusty's Sports Bar. There's also one liquor store, York Square Liquors.


GARVANZA SOCIETIES

For those eager to get involved in Garvanza, there are at least two neighborhood organizations: Highland Park Heritage Trust (established in 1982) and Garvanza Improvement Association (revived in 1985)


FURTHER READING

For those interested in reading more about Garvanza, a neighborhood newspaper called The Garvanzan debuted in 1887. After it was acquired by the improbably-named Winfield C. Hogaboom in 1888, it was renamed the Garvanza Gazette but ceased publication after just seven months, in February of 1889. 

More modern histories include several books in the Images of America series. They include Charles J. Fisher and the Highland Park Heritage Trust's Garvanza (2010) and Highland Park (2008). Rick Thomas's The Arroyo Seco (2008) also includes some interesting history and photography from Garvanza. 

Back in 2007, LAist undertook a series called The Neighborhood Project, which covered Angeleno HeightsBaldwin Hills, Chinatown, Franklin VillageMiracle Mile, NorthridgeSherman Oaks, Studio City, Watts, and Garvanza. Some of them are quite thorough for blogs -- far more than my own neighborhood pieces which I began at almost the same time. To read Lindsay William-Ross's piece, click here.

There's also a great Facebook page called Historic Garvanza, Rose Hills, & Highland Park in Northeast Los Angeles.


Ye Olde Trash Tree


*****

As always, I welcome corrections, additions, and personal accounts of Garvanza experiences. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be the subject of a future piece, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities and neighborhoods, vote here

*****


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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring University Hills

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 7, 2014 10:26pm | Post a Comment
AS I LOOK BACK ON MY EDUCATION -- UNIVERSITY HILLS


In the fall of 2012 I had a stint house-sitting in El Sereno and I spent much of that time exploring said neighborhood with a dog named Dooley. This past fall I again returned to the Eastside and Dooley I again resumed our epic walks. This time around we explored Arroyo View Estates, City Terrace, East Los Angeles, El Sereno, Garvanza, Happy Valley, Hermon, Highland Park, Hillside Village, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Monterey Hills, Rose Hill, and one warm, sunny morning, University Hills
(University Hills is home to Los Angeles's longest public stairway -- the 234 step "Heidleman Stairway").



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of University Hills

University Hills is a small neighborhood in Los Angeles's Eastside. University Hills is, like Hillside Village, often (perhaps even usually) considered to be a district of the greater El Sereno neighborhood by some and a separate entity by others. To its west is Hillside Village, to its south are East Los Angeles and City Terrace, to the southeast is Monterey Park, and to the east is Alhambra


EARLY HISTORY OF THE AREA

The earliest known inhabitants of the area that's now University Hills arrived there some 13,000 years ago. About 10,000 years later the ancestors of the Tongva arrived from the Sonoran Desert, ultimately establishing the village of Otsungna, meaning "The Place of Roses," near the banks of a stream later named Arroyo Rosa de Castilla.

The Tongva's reign ended shortly after Spaniard Gaspar de Portolà's overland expedition passed through the area in 1769, an event which set the stage for Spanish conquest. In 1771, the conquerors constructed Mission San Gabriel Arcángel -- first in Whittier Narrows. In 1776 the mission was moved to its present location in San Gabriel, seven kilometers to the northeast of what's now University Hills. A few years later, in 1781, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles was founded eight kilometers to the west.

The area that now comprises University Hills was located in lands owned and controlled by the mission until Mexico gained independence in 1821 and the missions' holdings were later subsequently secularized. In 1831, the land containing what's now University Hills was granted to Juan Ballesteros by Governor Manuel Victoria. Ballesteros named his ranch “Rancho Rosa de Castilla.” Mexico's rule would prove even shorter than Spain's and ended in 1848 when California was conquered by the US. In 1850, California entered the union and Los Angeles incorporated as a city.

In 1850 the rancho was acquired by Anacleto Lestrade. In 1852, the title passed to a Basque couple, Jean-Baptiste Batz and his wife, Catalina Hegui. The family patriarch passed away in 1859 but it wasn't until 1876 that Catalina acquired the title to the land and purchased surrounding areas. After her death in 1882, the land was inherited by six of the eight Batz children. Their adobe, built in 1776 and gradually expanded upon over the years, was destroyed by a fire in 1908.


UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD


Freight rail along Valley Boulevard

The northwestern border of the University Hills is generally formed by a Union Pacific freight train line, acquired from Southern Pacific in 1996. Southern Pacific was the first transcontinental railway to reach Los Angeles, back in 1876. I don't believe (but I'm not sure) that this section of the rail was part of the original route connecting the city to San Francisco (since it seems to be heading in the wrong direction) although I believe that I read somewhere that it was installed no later than the 1880s. Back then the train also carried passengers to Los Angeles and in 1885, when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad broke their rival's monopoly, a rate war saw trips from Kansas City, Missouri temporarily drop to just $1 per passenger.

By 1888, the San Gabriel Rapid Transit Railroad passed through the area, linking Monrovia with Los Angeles. The local stop was listed simply as "Batz." Portions of the railway were incorporated into the Pacific Electric Railway, which traveled along the route of the modern Metrolink line to San Bernardino. The train carried passengers from 1914 until 1941 and ceased to run freight in 1950. The tracks continued to be used by Southern Pacific and Amtrak until 1990, when the line was sold to LACTC (the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission), which established Metrolink in 1992. Cal State LA Station opened in 1994.


GRIDER & HAMILTON'S FLORAL PARK


By 1906 or so, a small part of the area that's now University Hills was subdivided as Grider & Hamilton's Floral Park, who promoted their tract in the Los Angeles Herald with an ad that read, “Acres and Half-acres. Whole acres for the price of town lots just beyond beautiful Eastlake park. Close In. Wait for it. It will pay you to do so.” Grider was Leroy M. Grider, a real estate developer who'd moved to Los Angeles in 1857 and started his first company, L. M. Grider & Co., in 1886.

Grider was described by some as being the first developer to sell neighborhood's via the “excursion method,” which saw him ferry potential homeowners via streetcar to then-new "toonervilles" where they would additionally be plied with free BBQ. Grider also served on City Council but after retiring from both politics and real estate, opened a pet store called Birdland.  

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Hermon

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 2, 2014 02:35pm | Post a Comment
FROM THE LIONS' DENS AND THE MOUNTAIN HAUNTS OF LEOPARDS --HERMON


Hermon and the deodars planted by the Arroyo Vista Woman's Club in memorium [sic] of Grace Ebey Reed

In the fall of 2012 I had a stint house-sitting in El SerenoI spent much of my time exploring that neighborhood with a dog named Dooley. This past fall I again returned to the Eastside and Dooley I resumed our epic walks. This time around we explored Arroyo View EstatesCity TerraceEast Los AngelesEl SerenoGarvanzaHappy Valley, Highland ParkHillside VillageLincoln HeightsMontecito HeightsMonterey HillsRose HillUniversity Hills, and on one late afternoon, Hermon.


More signs of Hermon


Hermon is a small neighborhood situated in a small valley between the neighborhood of Highland Park to the north and west, and the city of South Pasadena to the east. To the southeast is the neighborhood of Monterey Hills and to the southwest is the neighborhood of Montecito Heights. When the community of Hermon was just nine years old it was annexed by Los Angeles but more than a century later there are both Hermon residents and visitors who think of it as its own municipality. 


Detail of JR Prince's Territory Annexed to Los Angeles, 1781-1916 (source: Big Maps Blog)


The spirit of autonomy was supported even in the years after the community's absorption into a growing metropolis. A brochure from 1916 described Hermon as occupying “an ideal location, within the City of Los Angeles, but well removed from city vices and allurements.” In 1922 it formally joined Highland Park but its sense of separateness never seems to have vanished entirely. 

Hermon's small size, distance from "city vices and allurements," and independent streak seem to have kept it obscure. In fact, it's best known for being unknown. Take Kim Cooper and Richard Schave's podcast, You Can't Eat the Sunshine, for which the theme-song-singing Ukaladay caterwauls  of a “...long-lost neighborhood of Hermon between South Pas and Highland Park.” An LA Times article by Bob Pool referred to Hermon as “a corner of Los Angeles that time didn't forget but just about everyone else did.” Hermon doesn't even exist on Yelp or LA TimesMapping LA project. AOL doesn't have a Hermon Patch and there's no NextDoor page for it. Still, Hermon isn't exactly a lost civilization and its roughly 3,255 residents are hardly an uncontacted people.

As Dooley and I braved the streets of Hermon, we encountered no hostile natives (unless you count barking dogs). Quite the contrary, in fact -- as Dooley and I walked down Bushnell Way, our first encounter with one of the natives involved a pretty, smiling, Vietnamese woman clothed in the sort of exotic, stripy traditional garb one might get at H&M or Muji. When she said, "hello" (in English) it was with such disarming friendliness that for a split second I thought that she was either somehow expecting us or that we were already acquainted. 


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of Hermon


It actually turned out to be our only interaction with anyone in Hermon and although it hardly felt like we'd entered some fabled land of the lost, the neighborhood does have a discernible air of distinctness. For one there are more pick-up trucks per capita than one finds in most neighborhoods on this side of Angeles Forest -- there were even a couple of monster trucks. Hermon also smells clean and cedar-y... something I associate more with National Forests more than suburban corners of Los Angeles. There are quite a few stately deodars and sycamores and the barriers formed by the Repetto Hills and Arroyo Seco but they alone couldn't account for the sensation that we'd traveled quite a bit further than we actually had. 


ARROYO SECO


The main physical barrier between the rest of Los Angeles and Hermon is the not-usually-very-imposing Arroyo Seco. Spanish for “dry stream,” the Arroyo Seco is a river with headwaters near Mount Wilson in Angeles Forest that passes between Altadena and La Cañada Flintridge before it becomes channelized, below Devil's Gate Dam and near the north end of Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena. After that it continues downward, sheathed in concrete, until it reaches the confluence with the Los Angeles River at the neighborhood confluences of Cypress Park, Elysian Park, Elysian Valley, and Lincoln Heights. A rather short stretch of the river is paralleled by the Arroyo Seco Bike Path, which currently begins in South Pasadena and continues south through Hermon to Debs Park where it ends. Hopefully that will someday be extended to entire the 40 kilometer length of the river (it's currently only about three kilometers long).



EARLY HISTORY


The earliest known inhabitants of the area that's now Hermon arrived there some 13,000 years ago. About 10,000 years later the ancestors of the Tongva arrived from the Sonoran Desert, ultimately establishing the villages of Otsungna nearby to the south and Hahamongna to the north. The Tongva reign ended shortly after Spaniard Gaspar de Portolà's overland expedition passed through the area in 1769, setting the stage for Spanish conquest. In 1771, the conquerors constructed Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, at first in Whittier Narrows. In 1776 the mission was moved to its present location in San Gabriel, eight kilometers to the east of what's now Hermon.  A few years later, in 1781, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles was founded the same distance away to the southwest. 

The area that now comprises Hermon was located just beyond the northeast corner of the land designated Los Angeles, in lands belonging to the nearby Mission. Spanish rule ended when Mexico achieved independence in 1821 and the mission holdings were subsequently secularized. Mexico's rule would prove even shorter than Spain's and ended in 1848 when California was conquered by the US. In 1850, California entered the union and Los Angeles incorporated as a city. 

By the turn of the 20th Century, the land that would become Hermon was proving to be a hard sell for its then-owner, Ralph Rogers, who'd successfully overseen developments in Eagle Rock, Garvanza, and Highland Park but was unable to find a buy of the isolated property that became even more isolated when the seasonal Arroyo Seco flooded. 

FOUNDATION OF HERMON


Photo of the 1913 Arroyo Seco flood (image source: Hermon, Los Angeles)

The floodplain's isolation was something of a selling point to Charles Bond Ebey, who'd moved to Los Angeles from Illinois in 1888 with the hope of improving his wife's health. Ebey was a reverend in the stern Free Methodist sect who sought to found a colony of likeminded folks. Rogers gave Ebey fourteen acres of land to build a seminary and 100 lots to sell to other Free Methodists. The newly established community was named Hermon after Mount Hermon (Senir in the Amorite tongue), the highest peak in what's now Syria.


Hermon in 1904 (image source: Hermon, Los Angeles)


Undated photo (late 1930s?) of Hermon looking south (image source: Hermon, Los Angeles)

Today, streets including Coleman Avenue, Ebey Avenue, Redfield Avenue, and Terrill Avenue still serve as reminders of the community's early leaders (J. Emory Coleman, Ebey, John Wesley Redfield, and Joseph Goodwin Terrill, respectively) who though they undoubtedly preached humility, apparently weren't above being honored through thoroughfares.


HERMON COMMUNITY CHURCH 


Hermon Community Church

The original Hermon Community Church congregation organized in 1903. It wasn't until 1910 that they got around to building their first church. The current Hermon Church building dates back to 1949. 

The original Hermon Church in 1921 (image source: Hermon, Los Angeles)



THE SCHOOLS OF HERMON


Los Angeles Free Methodist Seminary in 1920 (image source: Hermon, Los Angeles)

Los Angeles Free Methodist Seminary opened in 1904. In 1911, curriculum was expanded with the addition of junior college courses. In 1934, the school became Los Angeles Pacific College, a four year university. In 1965, the struggling school was absorbed by Azusa Pacific University and the campus was turned over to Pacific Christian High School, which evolved into Pacific Christian on the Hill, which closed in 2004. The campus is now leased to Los Angeles International Charter High School (LAICHS), which may or may not be connected to Bethesda Christian University. Trying to sort it out was taking to long and frankly not that interesting to me but I did notice a sign at the base of a hill that said something about it being the future site of Bethesda. 


Bushnell Way Elementary School

The other school in the neighborhood is Bushnell Way Elementary. It was originally known as The American School and judging from historic photos it apparently was housed in at least two school buildings. An attractive "new" building was constructed in 1935. If I have the story correctly, Rose Bushnell was the school's first principal and folks wanted to name the school after her but there was a rule against naming schools after living people (and Rose Bushnell was a living principal). Instead of waiting for Bushnell to die, they instead named a street after her and then the school after the street. 


Undated picture of kids playing outside the American School (image source: Hermon, Los Angeles)


HODEL RESIDENCE & TEA HOUSE


The Hodel Residence (Tea House not in picture)


Hermon is full of charming homes including some of the modest kit homes that housed the community's first inhabitants. One of the more interesting and least modest houses in Hermon is the Hodel Residence. It was designed by Russian architect Alexander Zelenko in 1921 for two Ukrainian immigrants, banker George Hodel and his wife, Esther Leov. The two were notably also big supporters of the arts and friends with famed Romantic composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.

The couple's son, George Hill Hodel, Jr., was given the tea house in the back and later went on to be the suspect in several murders and of raping his daughter. In 2003, that Hodel's son, a former LAPD homicide detective published Black Dahlia Avenger; A Genius for Murder, alleging that his father wast the murderer of Elizabeth Short


I think it was around 2006 that I had the opportunity to poke around the whimsical mansion although I can't remember what the exact circumstances were. I seem to remember it needing a bit of love at the time but at some point around the same time it was designated a Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Monument.


MONTEREY TRAILER PARK 

Monterey Trailer Park


Just down the hill from the Hodel Residence is another residential development from the same era that's been designated a Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Monument -- the Monterey Trailer Park. The word "motel" (a portmanteau of "motor" and "hotel") was coined in 1925. Around 1923, Elmer Drummond (who operated a service station nearby) opened the Monterey Auto Camp in Hermon, a sort of motel precursor made possible as people were just beginning to undertake long road trips. Most if not all of the original ten cabins are gone -- replaced by mobile homes. 


HERMON BECOMES HIGHLAND PARK

In 1923, the Highland Park Branch of the Security Trust & Savings, Bank of Los Angeles published a short book titled The Five Friendly Valleys: The Story of Greater Highland Park. Hermon, the smallest of the "five friendly valleys," had forsaken its own identity (as had the communities of Annandale, Garvanza, Sycamore Grove, and York Valley) to band together as the Greater Highland Park Association (GHPA), hoping that in doing so the area would gain clout. Although as a result most people came to think of all of those neighborhoods as Highland Park, decades later some would be revived as growing numbers of Angelenos began increasingly rejecting anonymity and embracing history and community. 


HERMON CAR WALL 


Hermon Car Wall

Hermon's third Historic Cultural monument is an interesting piece of folk art, the so-called Hermon Car Wall. Iowa-born Albert Emmanuel Sederquist moved to Los Angeles in 1926, taking up residence in the Cadillac Hotel. He worked for Carmichael Traffic Corporation, the LA Traffic Bureau, and apparently owned six cars. In 1932 he bought a piece of property he called "The Dugout" in Hermon which he used as a campground and to go a little John Muir now and then. With the aid of a nephew, he built a rather tall retaining wall out of car parts, bricks takend from the rubble a schoolhouse felled by the Long Beach Earthquake, and regular old cement. The wall was completed in 1941 and Sederquist died in 1959. In recent years, gravity seems to have gotten the upper hand but it's still an interesting site and not entirely dissimilar to Simon Rodia's much better known Watts Towers -- built during the same period and the only other piece of folk art on the monument list. The address given, the intersection of Pullman and Lodge, is not especially helpful because both are only "paper streets" -- streets that exist only on maps but that no one got around to actually making happen. Therefore, the easiest way to find the wall is to head up what appears to be a shared driveway stretching uphill and southwest from Terrill Avenue.


ENDING ISOLATION


Avenue 60 Bridge

Hermon may've become part of Highland Park on paper in 1922 but in reality it remained largely isolated (except from South Pasadena) until the Avenue 60 bridge over the Arroyo Seco was constructed in 1926. The so-called Monterey Road Pass (also known as "The Great Wall of Hermon" or "The Cut" to some locals) was cut through the hills to the south in 1930 and is, in my mind, the most scenic way to enter the neighborhood. Hermon Avenue Bridge was constructed in 1939. 

Monterey Road Pass


CLAUDE WATSON

Around the same time, Hermon resident Claude Watson (a Free Methodist lawyer) ran for office on theClaude Watson Prohibition buttonProhibition ticket. The Prohibition Party (PRO) is the oldest third party in the US and is still trying to make alcohol illegal. In the 2012 presidential election, the PRO presidential candidate even received 519 votes. In 1935, two years after Prohibition's repeal, Watson ran as Vice President in support of D. Leigh Colvin and the two received 37,667 votes. He ran for president on the same party ticket in 1944 and '48, receiving 103,489 votes in the latter, more successful election -- only 24 million fewer votes than Truman. Although deed restrictions that kept the town dry for decades have been lifted for even more, there are still zero bars, nightclubs, taverns, or any other sorts of watering holes in Hermon so in a sense, it's still a dry town (although as far as I known you can buy alcohol at the market and possibly the 76 station).


LYONS GAS STATION


The old Lyons Gas Station


Lyons Gas Station back in the 1950s (image source: Hermon, Los Angeles)

It's not a recognized Historic Cultural Monument but I happen to be a fan of old service stations. Lyons Gas Station was built in 1953. It's currently home to A F Automotive Service



MONTEREY PLAZA


Monterey Plaza and "Downtown" Hermon

Hermon's business district, or downtown (if you can call it that), is dominated by Monterey Plaza -- a shopping center constructed in the 1960s. Monterey Plaza is dominated by Hermon's only market -- Fresco Community Market -- which like many markets of its size includes a bakery, kitchen and deli in addition to grocery section. The market is also a popular filming location and an ad starring a guy named Josh Duhamel and another with those Smothers Brothers-esque hipsters who hawk car insurance -- as well as a dozen others -- have been shot there.



RENAMING ROADS

In 1978, then-concilman Arthur "Art" Snyder renamed Hermon Avenue after his then-three-year-old daughter, Erin-Marisol. The freeway exit sign was changed to reflect the re-designation. Not everyone in Snyder's constituency was apparently happy and Caltrans responded by restoring the name to the traffic sign, although they ignominiously misspelled it "Herman Ave." Their mistake wouldn't be corrected until 2002! Snyder passed away in 2012 and some immediately seized on the opportunity to demand that Via Marisol be re-named Hermon Avenue. I have no problem with that although I'd simply like to point out that Monterey Road was formerly Walnut Hill Road but no one seems to be clamoring for its nomenclatural restoration.

La Due Way -- was this part of an abandoned development project?


*****


HERMON DEMOGRAPHICS

According to City Data, the population of Hermon is 61% Latino, 16% Asian-American, 15% white, 5% black, and 1% Native American


GETTING THERE AND GETTING AROUND


Leave your cars at home... or the daycare center


The only public transit serving the neighborhood directly are Metro's 176 and 256 bus lines. Metro's Gold Line light rail train also passes through the community but the nearest stop, Highland Park Station, is less than a kilometer away in Highland Park. Walkscore (one of the few online resources who recognizes Hermon's existence) gives Hermon a walkscore of 50, a transit score of 44, and a bike score of 38 – all relatively low but probably more a reflection of the fact that most “errands” (especially if said “errands” involve, say, going to a bar) require leaving the neighborhood and not that the community isn't easily walkable, bikeable, and close to public transit stops -- because it is. Most of Hermon is pretty flat although some of the residential streets around Santa Fe Hill (originally known as Sugar Loaf Hill) in the north end are slightly hilly. Charles Flemming's book, Secret Stairs, includes a walk through Hermon and Highland Park (Walk #6) which the author rates 2.5 out of 5 on a scale of difficulty. 
 

HERMON HIGHRISES


Villa Marisol

The tallest structures in Hermon, as near as I can tell, are the hills – which are usually ignored because acknowledging them would challenge the prevailing stereotypes of Los Angeles as a horizontal city. As far as human-made structures are concerned, none seem to rise above maybe six stories (incidentally the same number of stories as the first building to be labeled a skyscraper had), although a couple of complexes reach or approach that height. Those include Monterey Road Apartments, Monterey View Apartments, Villa Marisol, and Luxury Park View Apartments.


HERMON DINING SCENE

There are only a a handful of restaurants in Hermon: Aki Sushi & Roll, Monterey Donuts, Tasty Mama's, and Thai Fantasy Restaurant. Anyone who knows me know that at any hour I'm liable to go for Thai and I'm by no means an authenticity hound -- but when most of a Thai place's glowing reviews rave about orange chicken (a Chinese-American dish), I can't help but get a little warys. 

Monterey Donuts is a highly-rated donut establishment in a city full of donuts but unfortunately, there are far fewer occasions when I would seek out sweets so I passed on it too, despite the rave reviews (none of which mention items you wouldn't expect to find there -- like orange chicken). I didn't pop into Aki Sushi either, but as long as there are more vegetarian options than just tempura, I'm willing. 


Tiny Mama's 

Tasty Mama's is the latest tenant in a building that sees a lot of turnover -- it was recently home to Zosa Cafe, The Pantry, and Cycleway Cafe. The building was constructed in 1915 and has a nice ambiance and I'll try to check it out at another time, provided that it's still there.


HERMON VILLAGE GREENS


Hermon Park

Hermon is home to two parks (three if you count the city-owned median with deodars and the Nouveau font Hermon sign). Hermon Park is a decent-sized, unstaffed, dawn-to-dusk park with grills, a playground, picnic tables, and lit tennis courts.

Nearby is Hermon Dog Park – an off-leash, dawn-to-dusk dog park supported by the Friends of Hermon Dog Park, a group which seems to be the most active organizer of local events and observances in the the neighborhood, such as Howl-oween, in which human participants mark the ancient Celtic harvest festival by dressing their canine companions in strange garb and have a "peanut butter lick-off." The dog park includes two fenced areas: one for big dogs and one for small, disabled, shy, or elderly dogs. It should be pointed out here that Dog Fancy listed the Hermon Dog Park as the 7th best in the USA and it also got high marks from fellow urban explorer, Itty Bitty Gadabout.


HERMOND SOCIETIES 

In addition to Friends of Hermon Dog Park, there is (or at least was) a Hermon Neighborhood Association, a Hermon Clean Team, the Hermon Local Issues Committee of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, and a Hermon, Los Angeles Facebook page. There's also a HermonLA website from which I obtained all of this entry's historic photos and is a really great community resource.


HERMON HARMONIES


Art in the Park

I'm not aware of any musicians or composers born in Hermon. I'm similarly unaware of any live music venues, music festivals, independent music stores. If there are, please let me know in the comments and I'll add them. I did see a pot-smoking teen wearing a Motörhead T-Shirt and I heard an ice cream truck playing"Turkey in the Straw" but that was about as far as my musical experiences in Hermon went.

There is also Art in the Park, home to the Lalo Guerrero School of Music -- a non-profit organization that teaches music lessons to children (8 - 18 years old) in the Northeast Los Angeles area -- presumably including those from Hermon. A plaque outside the building says that it was constructed by the WPA in 1939. Eduardo "Lalo" Guerrero, for those that don't know, was a labor activist and musician and the Father of the Chicano Music


Another view of the Lalo Guerrero School of Music



CELLULOID HERMON

There've been many television commercials filmed at various locations but I'm not aware of too many films or or television series either set or shot in the neighborhood -- just In Time (2011) and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012), both of which featured the scenic Monterey Road Pass. I'm also not aware of any actors or filmmakers from Hermon nor any independent movie stores, historic theaters, or film festivals in Hermon. Once again, if you are, please let me know in the comments. 



OTHER SITES TO SEE & STUFF TO DO

As with much of Los Angeles, at night Hermon seems like a pretty sleepy place. Most of the sanctioned, public amusements are strictly daytime only. If there's even a grain of truth to internet hysteria, Hermon Park seems to attract cholos and homeless after night falls. Anyway, if I'm missing any art festivals, movies in the park, or farmers markets, &c, please let me know.


*****

As always, I welcome corrections, additions, and personal accounts of Hermon experiences. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be the subject of a future piece, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities and neighborhoods, vote here


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