Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Photo Essay: Midwick View Estates, Unfinished & Foreclosed

The City of Monterey Park is now known as the "first suburban Chinatown" because of its majority Asian population, but just around the corner from some of Jonathan Gold's favorite dumplings is a Spanish-style development called Midwick View Estates...



...which was never quite finished, but is now marked by two historical sites:



...El Encanto, the original sales office for the development...



...built to line up with a manmade waterfall up the street, now known as Cascades Park.



Midwick View Estates was meant to be the Bel Air or Beverly Hills of the east side of LA, situated just east of what is now the 710 Freeway, and just south of the 10.



Its crown jewel, Jardin del Encanto ("The Enchanted Garden," or "El Encanto"), was built by Greek real estate mogul Peter Snyder, a former Olympian who also was responsible for the Golden Gate Development (including the Golden Gate Theatre).



He surrounded the building with tiled fountains spouting water out of frogs' mouths...



...and tiled both the exterior and the interior of the building with nautical themes...



...and other designs evoking his wife's Spanish heritage.



Ornate patterns are everywhere inside the building, which has been used as a private residence, wedding chapel, military academy, USO center, and now the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce office.



Some of the patterned floors are actually colored poured concrete, rather than surface tiles...



...which means the color runs throughout the floor, limiting the fading at the surface from people walking across it.



Above, the intricately carved ceiling and wood beams are much as they were when El Encanto opened in 1928...



...perhaps a bit too close to the Great Depression...



...because despite his wealth, Snyder couldn't complete the development of his garden community, and went into foreclosure.



Fortunately, much of the view has been saved, as you walk up El Portal to the waterfall park...



...which is now owned by the City of Monterey Park...



...and still bears the coat of arms of the original development.



Spanish tiles run along the cascading levels of the waterfall...



...all the way up to a fountain at the top...



...which bears a statue meant to depict Athena...



...but doesn't actually look much like Athena.



Above the waterfall, there are a few houses that were actually built as part of the development...



...but now, the City of Monterey Park tries to keep skateboards and bicycles of the ramps that flank the waterfall, and preserve what's left of the memory of this grandiose Spanish-style estate, now an oddity in the richly Asian populated San Gabriel Valley.

Related Post:
Photo Essay: Golden Gate Theatre (Now CVS)