Verdugo Views: Master-planned Montrose opened nearly 100 years ago
The corner of Montrose and Honolulu avenues a few years after Montrose opened for development. This photo was printed in the 1953 Progress Edition of The Ledger, and the caption at that time identified the man as realtor Frank Turner. (Courtesy of Special Collections, Glendale Public Library / January 22, 2013)
Many arrived by horseback or on horse-drawn vehicles, according to Carroll W. Parcher, writing in “Glendale Area History,” published in 1981.
The developers, Holmes and Watson, promoted their new development in a large display ad placed in the Feb. 21, 1913 Glendale News Press.
“Montrose, a few minutes ride up the Foothill Boulevard from Glendale, right at the junction of the Verdugo, La Crescenta and La Canada Valleys.”
“Be prepared to buy a lot or two. You've made money on your holdings in Glendale. You'll make a bigger profit if you buy at the opening prices of Montrose.” Situated at an elevation of 1,300 to 1,400 feet, it is “well above the fogs,” the ad continued.
“We already have plenty of water, we're putting in the best of street work, laying out winding drives.” Plus, the developers promised to care for the trees, parking areas and vacant lots for seven years to “maintain the neat appearance.”
Holmes and Watson laid out the neighborhood in the form of a rose, with circular streets leading from the broad curve of Montrose Avenue; which was built very wide to accommodate planned streetcar tracks that were to extend an existing line from Verdugo Park in Glendale to La Crescenta Avenue in La Crescenta, and provide residents with easy access to the new community, Parcher wrote.
Montrose Avenue was designed to be the main shopping and business street. But despite their plans, the shops on Montrose never really materialized, he added. “An age-old law regarding the preferences of shoppers was rediscovered — shoppers don't care to walk uphill to visit stores.” So businesses began to develop along level Honolulu Avenue instead and it remains the primary shopping street.
The first major building, on the southwest corner of Verdugo Road and Honolulu, held a drug store, a bank (the first in the area) and the first office of the local newspaper (the Crescenta Valley Ledger), according to Parcher.
Then another drug store went up on the opposite corner, followed by a two-story structure with a hotel on the top floor and stores and offices on the lower level. With the later addition of a movie theater, Montrose became a community.
The kickoff to the 100th anniversary begins next week with the release of a book on the history of this charming community written by Robert Newcombe. The author will talk about Montrose's origins and sign copies of the book at two events. The first is a meeting of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley, Monday, Jan. 21, 7 p.m. at the La Crescenta Center for Spiritual Living, 4845 Dunsmore Ave., La Crescenta.
Newcombe will also appear at the Glendale Central Library, 222 East Harvard Street, Glendale, Wednesday, Jan. 23, p.m. That event is cosponsored by the Glendale Public Library, Arts & Culture Department, the Glendale Historical Society, the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley, and the Friends of the Glendale Public Library.
The official Montrose centennial celebration is scheduled for Feb. 22 through 24, with food, music, square dancing, storytellers and many other activities. For more information, visit shop montrose.com.
Barbara Merkle and I were seated at the same table at the recent American Assn. of University Women's Founders Day celebration at Oakmont Country Club. Merkle, a longtime Glendale resident (she first lived in the Verdugo Woodlands and now resides in the La Crescenta area) has often visited the grounds of the Ananda Ashrama at the top of Pennsylvania Avenue in La Crescenta. She said it was a great place to walk and an inviting place to rest and wonders if the rumor that the Beatles visited there has any basis in fact.
The Ananda Ashrama is north of the Foothill Freeway (210) at 5301 Pennsylvania Avenue. For more information, visit their website.
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