Archive for the ‘Heritage Home Awards’ Category

On October 11, Alhambra Preservation Group honored four Alhambra homes with its annual Heritage Home Awards.  Among the awardees was a 1932 Spanish Colonial Revival home located in the city’s historic Midwick Tract. In presenting the award, APG President Christine Olson stated, “We are honored to present this award to the owner of this home in recognition of the loving care and attention that she and her late husband have invested in the preservation of this Alhambra landmark.”

The Spanish Colonial Revival home was built in 1932 by the Foster-Huntley Construction Company of Los Angeles upon land owned by the Huntington Land & Improvement Company.  Located just north of the lavish Midwick Country Club, this was land that had been purchased by Henry Huntington for residential development.  In keeping with his multi-faceted business model that incorporated transportation, electric power generation and distribution, and real estate development, Huntington’s Pacific Electric Rail Line from Los Angeles to Covina passed just a few hundred yards to the north, with stops nearby at Granada Park, Ethel Avenue and Ramona Convent.

The vacant lot on West Hellman Avenue was purchased from Huntington in 1926 by Frank and Charlotte Roth.  The Roths were recent arrivals to Southern California from Chicago—part of a huge wave of migration that more than doubled the area’s population in the 1920’s—the largest influx since the Gold Rush.  In Chicago, Frank had been employed as a ticket seller for the Pennsylvania Railway.  Their new property overlooked the polo field of the Midwick Country Club. After several years of saving, the Roths had accumulated enough money to begin construction.  In 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression, they hired the Los Angeles architectural firm of Foster Huntley, Inc., to design and build the house of their dreams.  The project was described in the building permit as a seven-room house and garage of lath and plaster, with stucco exterior and a terra cotta tile roof.  The approximate cost to build was $4,000.  The Roth family continued to live in this home for nearly 40 years.

In designing the house, Foster Huntley chose to work in the Spanish Colonial Revival style that was so popular during the 1920s and 30s.  Many of the character-defining details of that style are visible in this home:  the low horizontal massing; the prominent arched window centered in the front-facing gable, with clay vent pipes above; the arcade entry, comprised of two additional arches, one of which serves as a porte-cochere; tall casement windows in the living and dining rooms; a decorative ironwork gate extending across the driveway; and the low-pitched gable roof clad in terra cotta tiles.  Today, a newly landscaped front garden features river rock walls and Mediterranean plantings.

Having purchased the home in 1971, the current owner has now lived there longer than the Roth family, for whom it was originally built.  While the house is small by current standards, she loves the fact that it is solid and filled with history and character—elements that are often lacking in modern homes.  She especially loves the quality of light that streams in through the large living room windows.

Over the years, this homeowner and her husband put considerable work into the house.  They remodeled the kitchen and two bathrooms, refinished the hardwood floors, added air conditioning, upgraded the electrical system, and installed new copper pipes.  The home was a source of special pride for her husband, who enjoyed sharing photos of their various home improvement projects with friends. So great was this couple’s passion for their home that even a life-threatening illness failed to derail their plans.  When, earlier this year, the homeowner’s husband was put on the waiting list for a lung transplant, they painted the exterior and re-landscaped their yard.  The homeowner’s hope was that the beautiful new front yard would be the first thing that her husband would see when he returned home from the hospital.  Although he did see photos of the work in progress, he never made it home.  He died at Barlow Hospital in July—just one day before Alhambra Preservation Group’s letter arrived in the mail, announcing their nomination for a Heritage Home Award.  For this proud homeowner, honored with both the APG and Alhambra Beautiful Awards during 2012, this recognition is bittersweet—although, she is certain that her husband is aware of both awards and is, “having a good laugh about it.”  In designating this home as a 2012 Heritage Home Award winner, Alhambra Preservation group is proud to recognize, in this couple’s exemplary stewardship of their historic property, a true labor of love.

This is the first article in a four-part series highlighting Alhambra Preservation Group’s 2012 Heritage Home Award-winning residences.

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The recipients of APG’s 2012 Heritage Home Awards pose with their certificates.

Alhambra Preservation Group (APG) presented its 2012 Heritage Home Awards on Thursday, October 11 at a ceremony in Reese Hall of the Alhambra Civic Center Library. The event was attended by more than 50 Alhambra residents.

The evening included presentations on each of the four featured residences, showcasing the distinctive historical and architectural details of each and bringing to light some of the long-forgotten history on the houses and the people who once lived in these homes. “APG’s annual Heritage Home Awards shine a spotlight on Alhambra’s rich architectural history,” stated Christine Olson, Alhambra Preservation Group’s President. “Each year, APG proudly recognizes several homes, their current owners and the sensitive restoration work that has contributed to the preservation of these gems.”

This year’s four homes are located throughout Alhambra in the Mayfair Tract, the original Alhambra Tract, the Midwick Tract and a little-known area of land in Alhambra originally named the Wiesendanger Tract after a Los Angeles real estate magnate. The honored homes included the following architectural styles, which are prevalent in Alhambra – Prairie-styled Arts and Crafts, Spanish Colonial Revival, English Tudor Revival and Colonial Revival.

Look for a four-part series featuring the honored homes to appear here monthly beginning in December 2012.

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Alhambra Preservation Group (APG) will present its 2012 Heritage Home Awards at its fall event. At 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 11, four local property owners will be recognized for their hard work and dedication to the preservation of Alhambra’s built environment. The event will take place in Reese Hall at the Alhambra Civic Center Library, located at 101 South First Street in Alhambra. “These homeowners have made a considerable investment in our community and its history by maintaining the character of their historic homes,” said Christine Olson, APG President. “We are proud to honor their efforts.”

This year’s Heritage Home Award winners showcase Alhambra’s diverse architecture and include a 1929 Tudor Revival, a Colonial Revival home constructed in 1935, a 1910 Arts and Crafts home in the Prairie Style, and a Spanish Colonial Revival constructed in 1932. Each of these tells stories of the lives of those connected with them: of the Alhambra High School principal who lived in the first home built in the Mayfair Tract; the high-flying real estate magnate whose land holdings were extensive but who, in the wake of scandals and lawsuits, died friendless and penniless; and the family of original owners who left a time capsule buried in their basement.

This event is free to the public, and all are welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served after the presentation, and ample parking is available in the library’s underground parking structure. APG has presented the Heritage Home Awards annually since 2008, in keeping with its goal of raising public awareness about the ways in which historic architecture contributes to Alhambra’s economic and cultural vitality.

The Alhambra Preservation Group was founded in 2003 by Oscar Amaro and Katherine Hildreth and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2007. The membership shares the belief that Alhambra’s unique history is embodied in its buildings and that Alhambra’s historic structures provide a real and tangible link to its history. For more information on APG, please call (626) 755-3467 or like us on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/alhambrapreservation.

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This home is one of four houses to be recognized at the Heritage Home Awards on October 11.

Mark your calendars now for Alhambra Preservation Group’s Fall event, at which the organization will present its 2012 Heritage Home Awards.  APG has presented this award annually since 2008, in keeping with its goal of raising public awareness about the ways in which historic architecture contributes to Alhambra’s economic and cultural vitality.

At 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 11, four local property owners will be recognized for their hard work and dedication to the preservation of Alhambra’s built environment. The meeting will take place in Reese Hall at the Alhambra Civic Center Library, located at 101 South First Street.

Everyone is welcome to attend and to learn about the history of four distinctive Alhambra homes, and the efforts of their owners to preserve and maintain them in a way that honors their connection to the people, events and patterns of history that have shaped this community.  Refreshments will be served.  The event is free and open to the public.

To learn more about Alhambra Preservation Group, call (626) 755-3467 or visit our Facebook page.

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A 1937 Spanish-style garden apartment complex located in southwestern Alhambra was among four properties honored with Alhambra Preservation Group’s 2011 Heritage Home Awards for historic preservation.  “Presenting a Heritage Home Award to a multi-unit property is something new for Alhambra Preservation Group,” said Christine Olson, APG President. “We are pleased to present this property’s owners with this award, in recognition of their continued care and preservation of Alhambra’s architectural history.”

The apartments are located in the Granada Place Tract, which was developed as a residential neighborhood in the 1920s—the heyday of the nearby Midwick Country Club. The Pacific Electric Railway line, with daily passenger service from Los Angeles to San Bernardino, ran close by, traversing the center of Ramona Road, which is now the San Bernardino Freeway.

Atilio and Viola Guardia were the first owners of this apartment complex. The son of Italian immigrants, Atilio had grown up on a farm in Illinois. He and Viola came to Southern California in the mid-1920s, and Atilio was employed as head gardener on the Sierra Madre estate of Grace Hall, an elderly widow.  While living in a cottage on the estate, they saved their money and, in the Fall of 1937, purchased a vacant lot in Alhambra and hired a local contractor, Lindsia Elkanah “Caney” Dowell, to draw up plans for a four-unit garden apartment complex. Each of the four apartments had one bedroom and one bathroom. Construction on the small 600-square foot apartments, which were designed in the Spanish style with terra cotta roof tiles, fireplaces and casement windows framed by decorative wood shutters, was completed in early 1938. Over the next 40 years, the Guardias rented to an assortment of hard-working people—laundry drivers, waiters, stenographers, warehousemen, aircraft workers—all of whom called these modest, but attractive, apartments home.

The current owners purchased this apartment complex in the early 1980s.  Having moved to Alhambra in the 1970s and living in the nearby Midwick Tract, they had often admired this apartment complex as they drove their children to school. When the complex went on the market in 1983, they jumped at the chance to purchased them. These new owners already possessed a well-developed appreciation for historic architecture. (Others among their family have, for many years, owned and maintained  an early Los Angeles landmark, El Milagro Market and Albion Cottages, a store and five houses, built circa 1870 for Southern Pacific Railroad workers.)  Since 1983, they have maintained the apartments conscientiously, restoring the original wood casement windows and mitigating extensive termite damage and dry rot throughout the complex. Among other benefits, their tender loving care of the property has resulted in excellent landlord-tenant relationships—some of which have lasted for decades.

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A beautifully handcrafted 1911 Arts and Crafts home located in the northeastern corner of Alhambra was among four residences honored with an Alhambra Preservation Group 2011 Heritage Home Award at a November 2011 ceremony. “We are proud to recognize the owners of this home for their responsible stewardship of Alhambra’s architectural history,” said Christine Olson, APG President, in presenting the award.

The first owners of this 100-year-old grand Craftsman home were James and Abbie Reid, who lived here with their two daughters, Ruth and Irma. Mr. Reid was a Los Angeles banker and fruit grower and helped to organize the Semi-Tropic Fruit Exchange in 1893 – a growers’ cooperative that later became known for its Sunkist brand. In 1911, the Reid family bought eight acres of land in the original Alhambra Tract and built an elegant two-story home in the northeast corner of their property with the help of Los Angeles architect Arthur Acker, whose residential designs reflected his admiration of famed Craftsman architects, Charles and Henry Greene. The Reids planted their surrounding acreage in Valencia and navel orange trees, and situated the ranch so that it was immediately adjacent to both the Southern Pacific rail line and the Alhambra Packing House.

Sadly, the Reid family was not able to enjoy their home for long. Mr. Reid was killed in a streetcar accident in 1913, and his widow sold the home to John and Florence Sesser in 1918. John Sesser was a railway executive and real estate speculator who was very active in the early days of the Alhambra Board of Trade. The Sesser family owned this home until Florence’s death in 1965.

When the current owners purchased the home in 2003, there was a great deal of rehabilitation work to be done, with the most immediate problems involving the plumbing and electrical systems. After upgrading these two major systems, the real work began in 2009 and literally involved raising the roof so that badly damaged original rafter tails and exposed beams could be replaced, and a new roof installed. Finally, all of the home’s exterior shingle siding was removed so that the walls could be fully insulated for energy efficiency. The original shingles were then turned over, reinstalled and stained so that their un-weathered side is now exposed.

Interior improvements to the home were also part of the restoration work and included a remodel of the kitchen, downstairs bathroom and butler’s pantry. With improvements both inside and out, this stunning Arts and Crafts-styled home is now ready for the next 100 years!

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An elegant Tudor-Revival home located in northern Alhambra was one of four residences honored with Alhambra Preservation Group’s 2011 Heritage Home Award at a November 2011 ceremony. “We are honored to present this award to the owners of this home in recognition of the time and care they have invested in the preservation of this historic home,” stated Christine Olson, President of the Alhambra Preservation Group in presenting the award.

This home is located in an area of Alhambra that was once known for its productive (and prosperous) commercial orange groves.  The 10-acre Orange Blossom Manor Tract was planted by the father-son business team of Nelson and Elmer Bailey.  The Baileys were experienced orchardists when, during the very early 1900s, they moved to Alhambra from Florida and established their Golden Pheasant brand. By the 1920s; however, the citrus industry was in decline in Southern California and the Bailey-owned orange groves were subdivided into housing tracts.

When this home was built in 1927 by Harold and Georgia Marriett, the total assessed value of the property was $5,740.  While the identity of the Marriett’s architect is a mystery, the builder was Arthur A. Tennyson of Alhambra. Originally from England, Tennyson immigrated to the United States in 1881 and was a master builder of both homes and ships. Tennyson was also responsible for building the bath house, pergolas and municipal buildings at Alhambra Park, Alhambra’s first public park, which was officially dedicated on July 4, 1921.

Harold Marriett was a purchasing agent for the Alhambra-based Standard Felt Company when he met his second wife, Georgia, a stenographer for the same company. They married in 1925 and purchased this site for their new home in 1927, presumably because it was just a few lots north of Georgia’s younger sister Madelyne’s residence. The Tudor-Revival home that they built was meant to impress. A very popular residential style in the post-World War I housing boom, the popularity of the Tudor-Revival style continued throughout the Great Depression. Elements generally incorporated into these homes included steeply pitched roofs, front-facing gables, ornamental half-timbering, prominent brick chimneys and tall mullioned casement windows—all of which are featured in this picture-perfect house. While they lived here, Harold Marriett owned a successful printing business in Los Angeles. The Marriett family continued to own this home until 1970.

The current owners purchased this home 10 years later in 1980. They fell in love with its character-defining features, which are rarely—if ever—found in new home construction.  Their many renovation projects have included the addition of central heating and air conditioning, replacement of the home’s original plumbing, seismic retrofitting and the addition of a bedroom and bathroom, all accomplished in a way that both respects the home’s historic character and enhances its value.

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On November 3, 2011 Alhambra Preservation Group honored a stately 1909 Arts & Crafts home located in northwestern Alhambra as one of its four 2011 Heritage Home awardees.  Many of the local history and architecture lovers who attended APG’s June 2011 Historic Home Tour will recognize this home as one of the homes showcased by that event.  “We are honored to present this award to the owners of this home in recognition of the loving care and attention they have invested in the preservation of this Alhambra landmark,” stated Christine Olson, President of the Alhambra Preservation Group in making the award.

Edmund Lincoln (upper right) in Honduras during the 1883 archeological expedition.

This home is located in Alhambra’s La Marguerita Tract. Its story begins with an adventurer and world traveler. Edmund Lincoln, a Harvard graduate, was a member of a pioneering 1883 archeological expedition to Central America. Sponsored by the Boston’s Peabody Museum, the mission of this ethnographic study was to explore and document findings about the Mayan people and their culture, about whom little was then known or understood by academia. As the expedition’s photographer, Mr. Lincoln produced more than 10,000 glass-plate negatives documenting Mayan artifacts and people. Lincoln’s photographs are still in use by researchers and histories and formed the centerpiece of a 2009 exhibit at the Peabody Museum.

Following his Central American adventure, Lincoln settled in Pasadena where he met and married his wife Jessie in 1900 and they began a family. Over the next several years, the Lincolns invested in large tracts of land in the fashionable Westlake District of Los Angeles, Alhambra and the then-rural area of Sierra Madre. They purchased the land in Alhambra from Adolph Graffen, whose early 20th Century farmhouse still stands on Pine Street. The Lincolns never lived in Alhambra. They were land speculators who made a smart investment in a new “streetcar suburb,” developing their tract into 33 parcels that were sold to homebuilders. Rumor has it that both the La Marguerita Tract and Marguerita Avenue were named after Adolph Graffen’s eldest daughter, Marguerite.

David Sturges, 1900

In 1909, the lot was purchased by a young couple, David and Mary Sturges, who immediately secured the services of Smith-Weaver Construction to build this large, impressive home for their family and servants. Upon completion of the home, the total assessed value of the property was $1,700. Originally from the Midwest, David had come to Riverside County in with his parents in 1889. David’s father, a physician who established the first medical practice in Murrieta, employed David in the family’s drugstore and clinic. There, he must have learned skills that would later prove valuable to him when, living in Alhambra, he worked as an accountant for a local manufacturing company. During that time, he was also enrolled in an engineering program at Throop Institute of Technology in Pasadena—now known as Caltech.

In the 103 years since this home was built, five families have lived here, but none longer than the present owners, who bought the home in 1978. Over the years, they engaged in extensive and painstaking restoration involving nearly every part of the house. One of the most remarkable discoveries during that process was the home’s original river rock fireplace. At some point in the home’s history, the fireplace had been covered with smooth plaster, probably in an attempt to give it a “Spanish look.” After chipping away some of the plaster, the hidden treasure was revealed. So inspired were the homeowners by their discovery that they rebuilt the fireplace completely, using its original stones.

Members of APG’s Board of Directors expressed their particular pleasure in honoring this property, the former home of Alhambra Preservation Group’s late co-founder, Katherine Hildreth.

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