Friday, December 14, 2018

Photo Essay: The Ranch of Adolfo Camarillo, Namesake of a Town and a Rare Horse Breed

"Was it a citrus ranch?" I asked the docent attending the upstairs of Camarillo Ranch House for its Christmas tours.

As usual, I'd arrived a bit unprepared.

"Oh it was everything," she said. "Citrus, lima beans, cattle..." And there were horses and mules, too—the latter of which had their own barn and wore bells as they hauled the lima beans (at least until the early 1900s, when mechanical farm equipment came along).

And it must've done good business—because the former residence of Adolfo Camarillo is one of the nicest ranch houses I've seen.

In fact, to call it a "ranch house" is to diminish its grandeur. It's really a Victorian mansion, built in the Queen Anne style by the architecture duo Herman Anlauf and F. P. Ward in 1892.

Although it's undergone substantial renovation and restoration, it still has its original tiled fireplaces... well as a number of historic artifacts, including Camarillo's own silver saddles in the ranch office and throughout.

It's also known as the Rancho Calleguas House, after the former Mexican land grant that dated back to 1837 and that was sold to Adolfo Camarillo's father Juan in 1876.

Along with his brother Juan, Jr., Adolfo continued his father's legacy in land development...

...and eventually founded the town of Camarillo, California (though it wasn't officially incorporated until 1964).

The ranch house displays also pay tribute to Adolfo Camarillo's longtime ranch foreman, Meliton Ortiz—the caretaker for his prized "Camarillo White Horses" (born white with pink skin)—who died at the age of 91 in 2010.

The Camarillo White Horses may be even more famous than Camarillo himself—having descended from the rancher's prized stallion, Sultan, purchased at the California State Fair in Sacramento in 1921.

Their popularity grew as they marched in the Rose Parade and the opening ceremonies of the 1932 Summer Olympics in LA.

Most of their ancestors were auctioned off in the 1980s when Adolfo's daughter Carmen died—but one sire remained and was able to continue the bloodline. Fortunately, you don't want two white horses to make a Camarillo White, and so the breeding program continues today (but with only a couple dozen of the horses in existence).

The days at the ranch weren't all about riding horses and driving cattle—and so some of the displays in the historic house today try to depict daily life of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

From the sewing room... the laundry facilities... the sitting room, outfitted with an organ...

...and a piano...

...and of course another tiled fireplace.

Upstairs, the spirit of the Camarillo children is alive.

This is where all seven Camarillo children lived and grew up, in the nursery and children's bedrooms.

In Carmen's former room, you can still see where she'd taped her horse betting tickets from Santa Anita to the wall.

There are so many details to take in from the family's rich history under those 12-foot ceilings, throughout the house's 14 rooms and multiple barns and stables... requires a return visit.

Preferably during the day, and when the horses are there.

Honestly, I'd like to take a bath there and wander through the walk-in refrigerator (a first among farmers of the time).

For historic photos of the ranch's former exterior layout (including lost structures), click here.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: The Ranch That Built An Empire of Oranges
Photo Essay: A Silent Movie Cowboy's Retirement Ranch (And His Horse's Final Resting Place)

Photo Essay: A Midcentury Church for Googie Worshippers

When you think of Midcentury Modern architecture—or especially the futuristic style known as "Googie"—you probably wouldn't associate it with a church or any other house of worship.

But that's because you've never been to St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Redondo Beach, California.

Located just a 20-minute drive south of the ultimate Googie coffee shop, Pann's...

...St. Andrew's is also the work of master Googie architects Armet and Davis.

Though, having been built in 1958, it's a rather late entry in the firm's oeuvre.

By then, the architects had already tried their hands at ecclesiastical architecture, with St. Elisabeth's in Van Nuys (1950), the First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro (1954), Our Savior Lutheran in Westchester (1955), and the New Trinity Lutheran Church in Norwalk (1955), among others.

They'd also dabbled in a few Christian schools and memorial parks. And they had been working with religious institutions since 1947.

Creation of Man

Better-associated with ecclesiastical architecture is Judson Studios, which provided the Midcentury-style stained glass windows.

The Psalms, The Prophets, The Birth of Christ

The project was overseen by Horace T. Judson—grandson of Judson Studios founder William Lees Judson and son of Walter Horace Judson). A former lawyer, he'd given up his practice to run the studio's day-to-day from 1934 until the 1970s.

The Birth of Christ

They're not, however, original to the opening of the church. And while the collection of stained glass is coherent thematically—"The Great Acts of God"—they weren't even installed all at once.

Creation of Man

From "The Creation of the World" to "The Calling of the Disciples" and "The Alpha and Omega," one or two windows would be added at a time, as funds became available, starting three years after the church held its first service. 

The Ten Commandments

The "Windows of Faith" are actually tryptics of three individual window units, each with its own sponsor. "The Burning Bush" is depicted alongside "The Passover" and "The Ten Commandments" (above), and so on.

The Sermon on the Mount

The saturated colors are meaningful here, with red representing passion, zeal, fire, and sacrifice. 

The Resurrection

Green represents hope and new or renewed life (as with the Resurrection, above)...

The Great Commission

...and purple, great suffering and the 40 days of Lent in reparation for Easter.  

The New Law

Although, in the end, I think all anybody is looking for is the color blue—a symbol of truth, constancy, faithfulness, eternity, and Heaven.  

Special thanks to St. Andrew's for sharing its stained glass historical archives for this post. 

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Retro Digestion in LA's Most Futuristic Restaurant Designs
A 12th Century Art Form Leaps Into the 21st Century
Photo Essay: Judson's Historic Glass Studio

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Christmas at the Doctors House, Saved From Demolition and Moved to Brand Park

Some buildings are so historic, so enchanting, that they serve as a touchstone for preservationists to assemble and organize in lasting ways.

Rendering by Edward Alejandre, circa 1981

The Los Angeles Conservancy had Central Library, and The Glendale Historical Society had the Doctors House, a Victorian home in the Queen Anne/Eastlake style built out of redwood, with a square tower. 

Photo: Konrad Summers [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It's named after not one but four doctors who occupied the Victorian house in succession, when it was located on the northwest corner of Wilson and Belmont (at the time, Third and B Streets, where an apartment building stand now).

The first physician to occupy it after it was built in 1888 was a Chicagoan, Dr. C.V. Bogue. In 1901, Dr. Bogue sold the house and practice so he could move back to the Midwest.

His buyer was Dr. David Winslow Hunt, a Minnesotan who owned the first automobile within Glendale limits, while it was still just a hamlet of 300 residents.

The third doctor to take up residence in the house was Dr. A. L. Bryant, who bought the house from Dr. Hunt in 1907 and then sold it back to him in 1908. Some historical records don't even count him and keep the narrative to just three doctors.

Dr. Hunt turned around and sold it again, this time to Dr. Leon H. Hurtt—the fourth and final doctor to occupy the house and the first president of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.

Although it's been restored as a "doctors house museum," replete with tools and instruments and medical tomes... was actually built by a real estate developer and was occupied by others before and after the four doctors...

...including Canadian actress and animal trainer Nell Shipman from 1917 to 1920.

Reportedly, her onsite menagerie included two bear cubs.

The Glendale streets used to be lined with homes like this when they were fashionable—but by 1979, the Victorian style had fallen out of fashion and a demolition permit was issued for this one, while it still stood in its former location.

The newly-formed Glendale Historical Society mobilized and maneuvered a move to Brand Park in 1980. They opened it as a museum four years later and still conduct tours today. Now, it's only one of  couple Victorians left in Glendale.

The saving of the Doctors House is considered the birth of the preservation movement in Glendale—but 40 years later, it's still got a long way to go (especially judging by its complete neglect of the Rockhaven Sanitarium property the city owns and refuses to do anything with).

How much do we have to lose and subsequently regret before we actually learn our lesson?

How many ugly yet utilitarian apartment buildings have replaced historic structures that provide a looking-glass view into the 19th century (or even farther back in time)?

How many more coalitions have to form to fight the good fight?

When does the fighting stop?

Related Posts:
Halloween at the Dead Doctor's Mansion
Photo Essay: Brand Park Trails
Photo Essay: The Mysteries of Brand Park in Historic Glendale
This House Has a New Home