by Paul R. Spitzzeri
When Walter P. Temple and his wife Laura Gonzalez bought the 75-acre Workman Homestead in November 1917, they were limited in what they could do with work on the ranch until a lease held by Japanese tenant farmer K. Yatsuda (we don’t know his first name) expired at the end of the following year.
Once 1919 came, however, the Temples were able to use their considerable wealth derived from revenues generated by oil wells at their lease in the Montebello field to embark on a variety of projects over the next decade or so.
While the major ones involved the renovation of the Workman House, restoration and additions to El Campo Santo Cemetery, the redevelopment and construction of a variety of outbuildings, and the creation of La Casa Nueva, attention to the landscaping on the property, which was expanded to 92 acres, was also significant.
Prime areas included the exteriors of both houses and the work done at the cemetery, but important, as well, was providing beautiful landscaped areas along the major access roads to the property. These were two, including the main route from Valley Boulevard to the north and what was called Evergreen Lane, which entered the ranch from the west.
The first road still survives in terms of easements and existing streets. From Valley Boulevard south to Proctor Avenue, this is in the form of an alley that retains the exact width and route that existed from the Workman family’s occupancy of the Homestead. On crossing Proctor, El Encanto Road leads to the parking area of the epnoymously named convalescent and care facility that once was part of the historic part of the Homestead and is now just to the north. The northern boundary of the El Encanto facility is the limits of the Homestead.
The second road, Evergreen Lane, entered the ranch from Tenth Avenue, later Turnbull Canyon Road, and was just a bit north of today’s Don Julian Road, which was not extended east of Turnbull Canyon until the City of Industry acquired much of the ranch in the early 1960s and pushed the road towards the Homestead. When the remainder of the property was developed for the museum, Don Julian was completed through to Hacienda Boulevard.
Evergreen Lane, however, does partially exist, at least in terms of the Pio Pico Memorial Walkway, which leads from the Homestead Museum Gallery and the gated area within which are the Workman House and La Casa Nueva down to El Campo Santo. As with the alley to the north, the width and route are the same as was in earlier days.
Tonight’s historic artifacts from the Homestead collection are a quartet of photographs of these two routes. The first pair show the northern drive coming in from Valley and approaching the Workman House and La Casa Nueva.
With the first image, note the bordering plants, including shrubs, bushes, palm trees and other small trees providing a pleasant approach to the property, while short concrete curbs are also in evidence. A wooden pole is on the west side at the right but it doesn’t appear to have power lines attached to it. At the left is the Workman House with the top of the Water Tower appearing above the roof. To the right is La Casa Nueva, which was still under construction about three years after it was begun.
The second view was taken just as the road approached the Workman House and the concrete curbing curved off as driveways went east and west of the home, while another headed west along the front of La Casa Nueva and then south. All three of these driveways ended at Evergreen Lane south of the houses. More of the landscaping noted in the first photo appear, but look to be taller and thicker, as do the deodar trees, three palms and the circa 1860 Lady Banks rose bush that basically obscure the front of the Workman House. This suggests a later date, perhaps closer to the end of the 1920s.
The second pair show Evergreen Lane from about where the Gallery and Water Tower are today looking east and then further down the road. The name “Evergreen” becomes obvious from the dense border of deodar trees that lined that thoroughfare from Turnbull Canyon down to El Campo Santo. We still have a couple of 1920s deodars on the site, though these are in front of the Workman House and in a planter next to the Mission Walkway on the east side of La Casa Nueva.
The first view is taken from just about in front of the Water Tower, off camera to the left, and near the largest of the 1860s brick winery buildings, repurposed as an auditorium, which would be out of view at the right. The driveway skirting the east of the Workman House comes in at the left with it continuing to the right by the old winery buildings, one of which is partially in view. This was the smallest of the trio of structures and, in the 1920s, was used as a nine-car garage. The tall wood post near the building included an antennae for radio reception.
To the left of Evergreen lane, behind the concrete curb are part of the covered grandstands adjacent to the large reservoir which doubled as a swimming pool. A man (looking on magnification to be Walter P. Temple) walks down the lane from the direction of the cemetery and the roadway is lined with a variety of bushes, shrubs and trees, including more palms and the deodars. In the distance is a large palm tree, said to have been planted by the Workmans, in front of the cemetery, while the front of the Walter P. Temple Memorial Mausoleum, completed in spring 1921, is behind it.
As with the photos from the north driveway, the second view on Evergreen, taken a little further east than the first, looks to be later. For one thing, the bordering landscape seems much denser down the roadway (note the couple on the drive) to the cemetery. The tall palm tree is there, but the mausoleum is basically obscured, perhaps by landscaping, although it may also be the exposure of the photo.
Clearer here than in the first image, is a walkway that turns off south from the road just behind the old winery and then-current garage. This led to a newer adobe building built by the Temples, of which one-half was used for ranch storage and the other was the residence of foreman Frank Romero, his wife May, and their two children, Jack and Doris. Finally, note the shadow in the roadway, this evidently being the tall pole with the radio antennae on it.
These rare images of landscaping and roadways on the Workman Homestead from the 1920s were probably taken by Thomas W. Temple II, eldest child of Walter and Laura, and without whom we would likely have very little visual documentation of the site during that era.
Look for more of Thomas’ photos of the ranch and buildings as future contributions to the La La Landscapes and No Place Like Home series of posts on this blog.