by Paul R. Spitzzeri
Much of the content of posts in the last year commemorating the 60th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Industry has focused on reports and documents outlining the early history and planning of the city, especially after 1963 when the seven-year old city intensively moved into long-term planning.
A study by the Stanford Research Institute, published in 1964 and including projections of the city’s development and growth through the end of the decade, was a key document. Seven years later, in summer 1971, the city issued its General Plan, drafted by the planning firm Gruen Associates, and which was heavily influenced by the Stanford study.
From there, implementation of key General Plan elements began, such as the development of the Industry Hills project, the remaking of the Civic-Financial Center, major transportation improvements, the creation of the Puente Hills Mall and regional shopping area, and more. These components took a master planning approach that represented a significant shift in the development of industrial areas in the region.
One element of this movement towards a more comprehensive planning process was the creation of the “City of Industry Historic-Cultural Landmarks,” comprising the Workman Homestead including the Workman House, La Casa Nueva and El Campo Santo Cemetery. The historical value of the property was recognized early on by city leaders and, while the Homestead had been operated as El Encanto Sanitarium since 1940, the City decided to acquire some of the property as the facility’s owners, the Brown family, were readying to build a new compound on the Homestead because of changing conditions in their industry.
On 19 December 1963, an agreement was enacted between the Browns (Lois Heaton Brown and her three sons, Kenneth, Gene and Robert) and the City, noting that because Industry
has heretofore acquired, through eminent domain proceedings, title to certain real property and improvements thereon, previously owned and occupied by [the] Browns, for public park, public buildings and grounds purposes, including the Workman Homestead Building and the Rancho La Puente Private Cemetery and Walter P. Temple Memorial Mausoleum . . .
it was decided to forge the agreement “setting forth certain understanding relating to occupation and use by each of the parties” for the property. Consequently, it was decided that, for five years, the Browns would allow the City to use water and electricity for the Workman House “for public purposes,” stating that the 19th century home was then used as “the existing sanitarium administration building.”
Additionally, the Browns agreed to “provide City with the services of such competent personnel . . . as may reasonably be necessary to conduct tours by the public or organized groups” of the home “and surrounding public grounds.” These tours would be arranged by the Browns and be at no cost to the City.
It was further stipulated that the Browns “will provide, without cost, expense, or charge to City, the services of such competent personnel . . . as are reasonably necessary to inspect physically and safeguard the said Workman Homestead Building during such hours as said building is not open to the public . . .”
Notably, there was a significant condition attached to El Campo Santo Cemetery, in that
Until each of the Browns shall be deceased, [the] Browns shall have the right and privilege to bury or locate such deceased members of the Browns’ immediate family as [the] Browns may designate in the existing cemetery and/or mausoleum area of the property acquired by City, as above described, not to exceed a total of four such deceased persons in number.
Although the idea of creating a historic site museum was years away, the City made these initial steps to provide public access to the Workman House, as well as safeguard the Brown family’s interest in using El Campo Santo, in recognition of the historical importance of the Homestead for limited public access just six years after incorporation.
By the end of the 1960s, the Browns completed the new El Encanto facility directly north of the Workman House and La Casa Nueva. The latter home, however, was not sold to the City of Industry until the end of 1975, though the City began devising potential uses of the Homestead through its General Plan process several years earlier through the work of Gruen Associates.
Next week’s final post in the Time Capsule Tuesday series for the City’s 60th anniversary will touch upon the early planning for what to do with the Homestead, so be sure to check back for that.