by Paul R. Spitzzeri
After devoting extensive space to plans for “The Civic-Recreation-Conservation Area,” otherwise known as Industry Hills, where the Pacific Palms hotel and golf courses and Expo Center were built, Gruen Associates, in its 1971 planning document for the broader “Civic-Recreational-Industrial Project No. 1,” turned its attentions to what it termed “The Historic/Cultural Element.”
This involved plans for two historic sites within the project area: the Rowland House and what became the Homestead Museum. The material covered two pages of the document and included a small amount of text, two schematic site drawings and four photographs of the Homestead site.
The text stated that “there are three areas of major historic and cultural significance within the City.” These included:
- El Campo Santo Cemetery “just west of Hacienda Boulevard and north of San Jose Creek” and it was determined that the significance of the burial ground, established by William Workman in the 1850s, was that it was “where Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of California, and other early Californians are buried.” Of course, this last reference presumably included Workman, his long-time friend, business partner and Rancho La Puente co-owner John Rowland, Workman’s son-in-law, F.P.F. Temple and others;
- “The homes of the Pioneer Temple and Workman families which are located to the west of the cemetery,” though descendants of native aboriginal Indians might dispute the use of the term “pioneer;”
- The Rowland House, located on Gale Avenue roughly a mile from the Homestead, and which was built in 1855 and “was the home of one of the original Anglo-settlers [not, however, a “pioneer”] of the San Gabriel Valley.”
Without going into detail, the report stated that
The Project One Plan provides for the improvement of access to and maintenance of the cemetery and the Workman home which are presently owned by the City. It is recommended that the Temple home be acquired, improved and maintained.
Notably, while El Campo Santo and the Workman House were acquired from the Brown family, operators of El Encanto Sanitarium, in 1963, La Casa Nueva was retained by the family. It is not known whether this was because, at under 50 years of age, the mansion built by Walter P. Temple and his family was not considered historic or not. In any case, it took another four years, but, at the end of 1975, La Casa Nueva was purchased by the City from the Browns.
As to the Rowland House, it was owned by the Hacienda-La Puente Unified School District, which had its headquarters in former school buildings at the front of the property deeded to it by Lillian Dibble, a descendant of the Rowlands, who died around 1960. Her intent was to leave the house to the school district, so that it and the history of the Rowland family could be part of the district’s educational curriculum.
The Gruen report, however, stated
It is recommended that the [City’s Urban Development] Agency and/or the City acquire or exchange it for property more useful to the School District and improve and maintain the house and its surroundings as another part of the historical/cultural element.
The schematic of the Rowland House property showed access coming into the site from Gale Avenue at the east end of the parcel on which the district’s offices are located, with parking to be located nearest Gale.
An “Open Space-Park” area was to surround the Greek Revival home and several outbuildings, including a small kitchen behind the house said to have been made of adobe bricks salvaged from the Rowland family’s original adobe home, which was located just north on the opposite side of nearby San José Creek.
The City did, in fact, acquire the Rowland House and surrounding land from the school district and made further plans to restore and renovate the project. This included the relocation of the 1864 wood-frame home of John Reed and his wife Nieves Rowland, daughter of John Rowland and Encarnación Martinez.
The Reed home stood just east of the Rowland House, but was moved when the property was developed into industrial property within the City of Industry, where John Reed Court is north of Gale Avenue and west of Azusa Avenue. Unfortunately, transients got into structure and a fire was set which quickly destroyed the building. All that remained in later years were bricks from the foundation which were left on the site.
The City later returned the Rowland House to the school district, which then transferred ownership to the La Puente Valley Historical Society. With leadership from my colleague Robert Barron and many others, a significant amount of restoration and renovation work has been completed on the home, though public access remains limited. There are plans, however, to offer some programming at the site in the upcoming year.
With regard to the Homestead, four photographs in the report showed the existing appearance of the site. An image of the Workman House, taken from the northeast shows a vine-covered building, shorn of its four original brick chimneys, but with the circa 1860 Lady Banks rose bush, planted by the Workmans to commemorate the birth of their first granddaughter, Lucinda Temple, looking quite healthy. The white space on the roof above the rose bush was where a 1940s dormer window was located.
There is also a view of La Casa Nueva from the southeast entrance, which was the commonly-used access by the Temple family, who put a tile plaque honoring “pioneer” William Workman there. A bit of the supporting posts and trellis work for grapevines on the surrounding Mission Walkway; the flagstone walk, bordered by hedges, leading to the house and other details are quite familiar. One noticeable addition from the El Encanto years were a fire escape door and staircase leading from the enclosed second floor wing.
Also included are two aerial photographs. One shows the two houses, with El Encanto to the north and barren land where the mid-1860s brick wineries, built by Workman, had just recently been razed by the Browns who felt they were in decrepit condition (perhaps exacerbated by the Sylmar earthquake, which took place in January 1971, about six months before the report was issued.
To the right of the Workman House and Water Tower are the reservoir/swimming pool and tennis court, built by the Temples in the 1920s, and which were later removed. Our picnic area and adjoining lawn are there now.
The other aerial takes in the area from the reservoir and pool, a portion of which is in view, down to El Campo Santo. A segment of what was long called “Evergreen Lane” and which was an access road to the property from Turnbull Canyon Road (formerly Tenth Avenue) to the west down to the cemetery is intact and bordered by evergreen deodar trees, planted by the Temples.
Dirt roads and an open area include where outbuildings once stood, while open fields comprise much of the remainder of the Homestead. Later, Don Julian Road was extended through the property to Hacienda Boulevard and industrial development took place on other sections.
The schematic shows that early planning was for two areas of public parking. The smaller lot was to be at the northeast of the Workman House, where some of the lots for El Encanto are now, while a much larger parking area was to be along the old Evergreen Lane from an entrance off a projected Don Julian Road that was much straighter and closer to the historic areas than it would become later. Because a driveway was to connect the two lots, the northern one might have been for overflow parking.
As with the Rowland House, there was a proposed “Open Space-Park” in the area between the historic houses and cemetery. Today’s Pio Pico Memorial Walkway and a fish pond near the cemetery, not shown on the map, more or less fulfill that function now. A final point of interest is what looks a proposed cul-de-sac at the far eastern end of the map. The idea was that industrial development would take place there and today’s Parriott Place which goes through to the north is in that location today.
Next week, we continue on with the next section of the Project One Plan, specifically dealing with outlined improvements to the traffic circulation system under the heading of “The Circulation and Transportation Element.”