An Arts & Crafts residence influenced by the Prairie style was recently awarded the 2012 Heritage Home Award by Alhambra Preservation Group. “We are proud to recognize this homeowner’s responsible stewardship of Alhambra’s architectural history with a 2012 Heritage Home Award,” stated Christine Olson, President of Alhambra Preservation Group, in presenting the award. “Thanks to the efforts of its current owners, this Alhambra home may survive well into the 21st century.”
This Alhambra home is located in a tract named after Theodore Wiesendanger, an influential early Los Angeles real estate developer. He was born in Switzerland and came to Los Angeles in 1884. After a short stint as a professor at USC, he went into business for himself, buying and subdividing large tracts of Los Angeles land. Over the next few decades, Wiesendanger developed more than 3,000 acres and built several hundred homes. In 1902, he built LA’s first apartment house, the Roosevelt. Recognizing the wisdom of buildings that would appeal to families, Wiesendanger the design for the Roosevelt included a fully-landscaped outdoor playground. The success of this venture prompted Wiesendanger to build more of the same and,by 1911,he owned 40 apartment buildings, housing more than 1,000 families. An unfortunate series of legal battles with investors and stockholders whittled his sizable assets down to a tiny fraction of their former worth. At his death, in Los Angeles in 1919, the Los Angeles Times reported that, “He had only one friend left to say a last farewell.”
In 1990, this home was discovered by the current owners, who are very proud of their home and its architecture and have gone to great lengths to preserve and maintain its original character. They have completed much of the restoration work themselves over the past 22 years. Some of their projects have included removing wallpaper, refinishing original oak floors, and preserving many of the home’s original Arts & Crafts features.
In the process of rehabilitating their home, these owners have discovered a few clues about previous owners, including an abandoned trunk filled with fabric in the basement. They once received a postcard in the mail from a woman who said that she had driven by and was so happy to see the house in such fine condition. She wrote that she had lived there as a child, and had many happy memories. They regret that she didn’t provide any contact information. Whoever that writer was, she left no doubt that she was delighted to see that this large and welcoming Arts & Crafts home still stands after more than 100 years, comfortably sheltering a new family and, hopefully, many more in the decades to come.
This is the second article in a four-part series highlighting Alhambra Preservation Group’s 2012 Heritage Home Award-winning residences.