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Archive for the ‘Alhambra History’ Category

Crawfords.Corner.RenderingCrawford’s Grocery chain was a quintessential Southern California success story of the 20th Century; a family business that began very humbly, with the husband and wife team of Wayland and Leemoria Crawford selling watermelons off the back of a truck. They opened their first grocery store in Los Angeles in the 1920’s, followed by a vegetable stand in the City of Bell. The couple soon determined that the rapidly developing San Gabriel Valley and northern Orange County provided a more lucrative business climate, so they opened a chain of stores, which eventually included locations in Alhambra, Glendale, El Monte, Montebello, Monterey Park, Pasadena, Rosemead and Stanton. The Crawfords’ two sons, Ray and Billy, as well as their grandchildren were closely involved in the family business from the time they were youngsters.

The original Crawford’s Market in Alhambra was built in 1929, at the corner of Valley and New, across the street from the Alhambra Airport. This location, in an otherwise agricultural area of town, captured the regular business of pilots, mechanics, and passengers, as well as families from surrounding communities. This location was followed a few years later by the opening of a second store in Alhambra, at the corner of Valley Blvd. and 9th St. (a short stroll from the Crawford home at 1842 S. 9th St.).

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Crawford’s Corner new sign.

In 1964, the Crawford family determined that their growing Alhambra enterprise required a fresh image. The architecture of the new shopping center they built was significant both for its ability to convey the principals of mid-twentieth century storefront design, as well as the Western theme they utilized as part of their marketing plan. Covered walkways, false front parapet walls, elaborate turned wood detailing and rustic signage all expressed the Old West Style. It is noteworthy that the most popular television series of 1964 was the western-themed Bonanza, set on a huge ranch near the Comstock Lode boomtown of Virginia City, Nevada. A simulation of the Old West boomtown was created here in Alhambra at Crawford’s Corner, paying homage to historical themes of American prosperity created by the settlers, prospectors, and entrepreneurs of the Mid-Nineteenth Century.

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Opening Day in 1964

As a commercial center, Crawford’s Corner comprised more than 30,000 square feet of shopping space, one third of which was dedicated to general merchandise. The many individual retail outlets originally included a drug store, barber shop, men’s clothing store, dry cleaner, shoe repair shop, ice cream parlor, fabric and sewing supply store, gift shop, and music store. In designing the new Crawford’s Corner in 1964, the owners’ intention was to project an open, friendly, community-involved image. The shopping center included a bell tower, patio area with gazebo and fountain, which was made available at no charge for community events and celebrations, including band concerts, festivities associated with the annual “Hi Neighbor” parade, and art shows. A community meeting room on the second floor was offered for indoor events such as cooking and pottery classes.

Like the Old West boomtown after which it was modeled, Crawford’s Corner has lost some its former luster but its architectural significance to Alhambra remains strong. Its one-of-a-kind mid-century architecture make it worth protecting and preserving! And, the enterprising spirit that brought success to the Crawford Family is alive and well among the current generation of entrepreneurs at Crawford’s Corner—each working tirelessly to achieve their own American dream of prosperity.

Photos courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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Lindaraxa.park.signWhen Lindaraxa Park was first developed in the early 20th Century, Alhambra was a vastly different city. Like many surrounding communities, Alhambra was comprised of orange orchards with large Victorian farmhouses dotting the landscape. Lindaraxa Park was no different. Originally a portion of the Alhambra Tract, which was purchased by Alhambra’s founder, Benjamin “Don Benito” Wilson in 1854, the area was filled with citrus orchards belonging to Sunkist founder, Francis Q. Story.

Lindaraxa.Park.Ad.Feb.1914This area located in northeast Alhambra was sub-divided and developed in the early 20th century by the Alhambra Construction Company. Elaborate full-page advertisements in a special holiday advertising section of the Alhambra Advocate generated interest. In keeping with the city’s use of Moorish names, the new development was named Court Lindaraxa. This name was taken from Washington Irving’s book Tales of the Alhambra, from which Alhambra was named. Lindaraxa was a Moorish princess who had an apartment and garden in the Alhambra, a Medieval palace located in Granada, Spain.

Lindaraxa Park made headlines earlier this year when a set of its entrance pillars located at the corner of Granada Avenue and Lindaraxa Park North Drive were restored. One of the pillars had been destroyed by a drunk driver in 2016 and the residents of Lindaraxa Park and Alhambra Preservation Group worked with the City of Alhambra to rebuild and restore the century-old pillars. Lindaraxa Park residents and the City of Alhambra celebrated the newly rehabilitated pillars in March with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Like the Moorish beauty it was named for, today Lindaraxa Park boasts some of Alhambra’s most diverse and beautiful architecture – Spanish Colonial Revival homes, Mission Revival homes, American Colonial Revival homes, Storybook Cottages – all surrounding a quaint neighborhood park. Lindaraxa Park’s unique character makes it one of Alhambra’s most distinctive and attractive neighborhoods – one worth preserving and protecting.

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107.Champion.Place

A century ago, Alhambra (and America) was a vastly different place. The United States had just entered World War I and the women’s suffrage movement was gaining ground. In 1917, it cost just two cents to mail a letter and a mere seven cents to see a movie. A Sears kit home cost between $191 and $2,632! Because of the uncertainty caused by the war, America experienced a pause in home construction in 1917 and this housing lull affected Alhambra as well. However, Alhambra does have at least one 1917 home that is still standing here in our city.

This home was constructed in the Arts and Crafts style with a slight nod to the Colonial Revival. Located on Champion Place within the original Alhambra Tract, this home was constructed by the property’s original owners, the Champion family, and has ties to the colony of prominent Western artists – which came be known as Artist’s Alley – who lived and worked in this small neighborhood.

When first built in 1917, this home was assessed at $1,730. Allan and Estella Bard purchased the home from the Champion family in 1919 and were its first documented residents. The Bards came to California from the Midwest, having raised three children in Cleveland and Chicago. Allen Bard got his start in the jewelry business at age 21 in 1875 and continued in the sale of precious stones after moving to Alhambra. Between 1919 and present day, 10 different families have called this house “home.” Those residents ranged from an up and coming West Coast artist to a Borax accountant, from a microbiologist to a Los Angeles Community College professor.

This year, this grand home joins many other Alhambra homes that have reached the 100-year mark. Join us in celebrating this home’s truly sensational centennial!

Photo courtesy of Sherrie Watson.

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F.Q.Story.houseEarlier this year, Jane Fernandez, a resident of Alhambra and student from Cal Poly Pomona, contacted Alhambra Preservation Group for assistance with a class project. She and a group of classmates needed to find a historic home for a Cultural Resource Management class. APG helped them find the Francis Q. Story home, located on North Story Place. After completing their project, we chatted with Jane and her classmate, Jennifer Hernandez, about their experience and what this project taught them about Alhambra and preservation.

APG: What was the project and purpose of the project?

Jane and Jennifer: The class was Cultural Resource Management, an introductory course to laws and the practice of CRM. The purpose of this project was to give us a hands-on approach of what it is like to do work within cultural resource management. The project was meant to encourage us as students to take an active role and apply our learning to the real world versus keeping the work within a classroom setting.

APG: Did you encounter any challenges completing this project?

Jane and Jennifer: We had planned doing our project on the Victorian house on Garfield after having read about it in the Alhambra Source. After spending several weeks gathering information, we had no luck with contacting the owner and getting permission to enter the house. We then decided to visit the Historical Society and talked to APG in hopes of finding another home in the area.

Having found the Story home, the owners were very helpful in giving us information so much that we had three criteria to work with. A challenge we encountered from not having full records of the home was the fact that we did not know when the architectural change from a Victorian home to a more Federalist-styled home took place. Another challenge we encountered was the word of mouth story about a Japanese family being housed in the attic after World War 2. We weren’t able to confirm that story.

APG: What did you learn doing this project? Did anything surprise you about this house/project?

Jane: I learned that preservation can be very rewarding in so many ways. It saves history, a place’s purpose and just the overall ambience of a city/community. I was surprised at how much work needs to go into nominating a place to be recognized as historically or culturally significant. I was also surprised at how many places we drive by on a daily basis that have grand stories behind them. I learned that in Alhambra, there are many.

APG: Do you have future plans involving historic preservation?

Jane: I, myself do. At this point the next preservation project I do might be for work since I am graduating, unless other projects come along. For the rest of the group I know that they have previously done some of this work before and might continue to do so. Doing this project on ‘The Story House’ was such a great experience as a resident of Alhambra because I didn’t just appreciate the home for having historical significance. It also brought to life the people and culture from our past.

APG: Any last thoughts?

Jane and Jennifer: Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed working on this project within the Alhambra community. It gave us a new perspective on historical preservation and the beauty and history that an old building can hold in the community.

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by M. Michelson, APG Board of Directors

Thanks to one of our vigilant members who apprised us of the gigantic “For Sale” sign posted at 403 South Garfield Avenue, Alhambra Preservation Group’s Advocacy & Action Committee has been involved in researching the impressive and unique, multi-story triplex on the corner of South Garfield Avenue and West Beacon Street, two blocks south of Alhambra’s main post office. Together with its three adjacent parcels, this property is being sold for likely commercial development.

image-7The 1920 U.S. Census shows that 403 S. Garfield was originally used as multi-family housing. According to an early 20th Century Alhambra directory, two families lived in what is the oldest and largest structure on the lot. Clifford H. Everdon, a shoe salesman, and his wife Edith and their daughter and son, rented the property along with the Coleman family. Calvin Coleman, who was a laborer in an oil field, also lived there with his wife and son.

The LA County Assessor’s Office shows three structures on the property, with the oldest possibly dating from 1918, though we estimate it is older than that based on its Victorian architectural features. Flanked on either side by what looks like the original grove of trees, it is listed at 3,370 square feet with six bedrooms and two baths; a one-room sleeping porch was added in 1927. Also on the lot are two other units, both built in 1941, each with one bedroom and one bathroom.

In July 2015, J&KD LLC bought this property for $3.1 million from ANJ LLC, just 2 months after ANJ LLC bought it for $600,000 from Eretz G4 Properties LLC. It is now on the market again.

We are very concerned about developers razing Alhambra’s heritage along with this historic house, one of few remaining Victorian homes in Alhambra. This is a unique exemplar of how early Alhambrans lived and needs to be saved! If you have further information or photos of this property, or if you want to join the Advocacy & Action Committee to help save 403 South Garfield Avenue, please contact APG at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

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DSC_0031Is Alhambra one of the most architecturally diverse cities in Southern California? The answer may surprise you!

From a humble log cabin to an elegant castle on a hill, Alhambra is home to more than 25 styles and sub-styles of architecture.  “Alhambra is one of the oldest cities in Southern California, and it is home to architectural styles ranging from Victorian to Mid-Century Modern and everything in between,” stated Joyce Amaro, President, Alhambra Preservation Group. “It is my belief that Alhambra is one of the most architecturally diverse cities in Southern California.”

Join Alhambra Preservation Group at their June 29, 2016 event entitled Alhambra’s Amazing Architecture for a virtual architectural tour of Alhambra’s homes, businesses, schools and places of worship spanning almost 150 years. Here are the specifics on the event:

Date:   Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Time:   7:00 p.m.

Location:   Alhambra Civic Center Library, 101 S. 1st Street, Alhambra, CA / Reese Hall

All are welcome to attend this free educational event. Ample parking is located beneath the library. There will also be a delicious selection of cookies, representing Alhambra’s diverse cultures, for everyone to enjoy.

Come discover hidden gems and be inspired to preserve and protect Alhambra’s amazing architecture!

RSVP at (626) 755-3467 or at info@AlhambraPreservation.org.

 

 

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1966.Clothing.StylesThe year is 1966. Mini-skirts are all the rage, international protests to the Vietnam War are beginning and Batman, a TV-series starring Adam West, debuts. And in a small Los Angeles suburb, at the invitation of Norma Yocum who is the city’s first woman mayor, a group of 21 long-time residents and civic leaders meet for the first time with the purpose of forming an organization that would be known as the Alhambra Historical Society.

On Sunday, April 30, the Alhambra Historical Society will celebrate its 50th anniversary from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. at the museum, 1550 West Alhambra Road, Alhambra, CA 91803. The festivities will include tours of the museum, a performance of the song “Alhambra” by a musical group from Alhambra Unified School District and a representative from Alhambra Coin Center available to evaluate the value of gold jewelry. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.

“Throughout its history, the Alhambra Historical Society has been dedicated to the acquisition and preservation of documents, artifacts and historical records of the city of Alhambra and its residents,” stated Rose Marie Markus, President of the Alhambra Historical Society. “The Society commemorates historical events and honors persons who have played a role in Alhambra’s history,” continued Markus.

Please plan on joining us in honoring Alhambra Historical Society’s 50th anniversary. Alhambra Preservation Group will have an informational table at the event and we’d love for you to come by and say hello.

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