December 08, 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

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