by Paul R. Spitzzeri
For this week’s Time Capsule Tuesday entry in commemoration of the City of Industry’s 60th anniversary, a little searching in the Homestead’s research files of news clippings and other material yielded an interesting article from early 1963. The date and source were not available, but it is likely from July and came from the La Puente Valley Journal, a local weekly that was published for many decades, but went defunct in the 1980s.
The article was headlined “Future Outlook Good For City Of Industry” and began with the statement:
The City of Industry is the envy of many incorporated cities throughout the state. They have earned an outstanding reputation for economy and city administration. Some cities look upon them with scorn only because their situation is different and made easier because they serve an entirely industrial area.
This last statement reflected the controversy that arose with the city’s creation in 1957, during an era of intense suburban growth, aggressive annexation of unincorporated areas that largely consisted of agricultural and ranch land, and the movement of industry away from the historic core in downtown Los Angeles and areas just to the southeast.
Notably, in early 1963, the city had 800 residents and some 10,000 people working in businesses established within the city. Today, the population is 219, while there are 65,000 persons working at some 2,500 businesses.
As to the future, the article stated
The City of Industry is flooded continuously with inquiries as to the opportunity for big industry to come into the area. Big commercial plants are “eyeing” the City of Industry because of its fine administration and the outstanding development that has taken place in the area.
Among the recent improvements cited in the piece was the establishment of the Pacific Fruit Exchange and the creation of a subsidiary Southern Pacific railroad repair station for refrigerated cars. The latter was especially highlighted as adding “hundreds to the employment rolls of the Valley” and two departments had 270 persons working at the new site.
With such activity, the paper continued, “scores of inquiries come over the city manager’s desk each week and the prospect of more industry in this area is great.” With more businesses drawing from the rapidly growing suburban expansion in the area, “more money [is] available through school taxes for La Puente youngsters’ education.” It was reported that the city paid out $3 million a year in taxes for local schools.
As to the Homestead, a subsection of the article titled “Acquire Park Lands” noted:
Recently this city set into motion plans for acquiring three particular land marks for the City of Industry which will be established not as a recreation center or a park but as an historical land mark that the public will be able to visit and the residents be proud of.
There were no plans known or costs of the proposal available “but the city administration is pushing the projects in order to improve the city.”
By three landmarks, it is assumed that the article meant the Homestead’s core historic elements: the Workman House, La Casa Nueva, and El Campo Santo Cemetery. In 1963, the Homestead, which was on 92 acres, was owned by Lois Brown and her three sons, who had been operating El Encanto Sanitarium on the property for nearly a quarter century.
Yet, the Browns were actively planning to take a portion of the site and build an entirely new facility on it, in accordance with changing statutes, regulations and standards for the operation of convalescent homes. So, in December 1963, the city purchased from the Brown family a portion of the Homestead, consisting of the Workman House and what was termed the “Rancho La Puente Private Cemetery” which included the Walter P. Temple Memorial Mausoleum.
The Browns completed the new sanitarium in stages during the rest of the decade and the facility , now city-owned, is still in operation after over 75 years. In December 1975, La Casa Nueva was sold to the city and plans began for the restoration of six acres of the Homestead for a historic site museum, with the project being the city’s contribution to the nation’s bicentennial. In May 1981, after extensive restoration, the Homestead Museum opened to the public.
Check back next week for another installment of “Time Capsule Tuesday”!