by Paul R. Spitzzeri
In 1963, just several years after the City of Industry incorporated, leaders in the municipality recognized the importance and value of the historic Workman Homestead, then-owned by the Brown family, operators of what was called El Encanto Sanitarium, now El Encanto Healthcare and Habilitation Center. As El Encanto prepared, by state mandate, to build a modern and up-to-date facility on the northwest corner of the property adjacent to the north of the Workman House and La Casa Nueva, the City worked out an arrangement with the Browns to purchase the Workman House and El Campo Santo Cemetery.
A provision of that deal was that the Browns would provide access and tours to groups who wanted to see the landmarks by appointment, even after El Encanto made the move to its new facilities over the course of several years. The sale of La Casa Nueva, however, did not take place for about a decade, though, in the meantime, the City’s first general plan, completed in the early 1970s, included several options for what to do with the Homestead. Just after La Casa Nueva was acquired, a successful application was made to add the Workman House and El Campo Santo as state historic landmarks and La Casa Nueva to the National Register of Historic Places.
With 1976 being the American bicentennial and cities and towns across the country launching special historical projects to commemorate it, most chose typical activities like books celebrating local history, issuing collectible coins or plates, and other small-scale endeavors. The City, however, decided that the restoration of the Homestead as a historic site museum would be its contribution and spent several million dollars in subsequent years for the substantial work needed for the project. This was in addition to an ambitious plan for a seven-story hospital for the field east of the Workman House and with which the City had plans to develop an HMO health care plan that it would offer to businesses for their employees. That component was abandoned, but work began on the rest of the work during that year.
Tonight’s post highlights a half-dozen photographs, taken by Duane C. Alan of Monterey Park, documenting work for areas outside the historic compound. Taken on 8 November 1976, the images show the preparation for what became the Pio Pico Memorial Walkway built along the route of what had been Evergreen Lane running from Turnbull Canyon Road to El Campo Santo; the Pío Pico Gallery (the two elements were named for the last governor of Mexican California and a close friend of the Workman and Temple families because the remains of him and his wife are in the Walter P. Temple Memorial Mausoleum in the cemetery), was which originally slated to be the sales office for the proposed hospital but which was repurposed for museum uses and is now called the Homestead Museum Gallery; and the Glorieta, a gazebo modeled after ornate ones found in Mexico. Beyond that, we also get glimpses of the cemetery, as well as the late 19th century brick water tower and adjacent pump house—all of which awaited substantial restoration and renovation.
The first photo looks east and shows the rough grading for the Pío Pico Walkway from about where the Gallery was in development. A grader is in view close to the heart-shaped planter, in which is a palm tree, that was established in front of El Campo Santo by Walter P. Temple around 1921 when he completed his renovation work of the cemetery, which was nearly removed by a previous owner some fifteen years before. The tree, incidentally, was removed and boxed for improvements to the planter, but it died before the work was done. It was years later before another palm tree was placed there.
In addition to the walkway grading, there is plenty of evidence of additional preparation elsewhere on the site, with a water truck softening the notoriously tough “Puente” adobe soil at the left. To the right, there was also work going on to lay out the large parking lot intended for the hospital and, further out, the path for the extension of Don Julian Road, which ended at Turnbull Canyon, through to Hacienda Boulevard. That thoroughfare’s bridge over the Union Pacific (originally the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad) line is in the distance at the upper left. In later years, industrial buildings were built along Hacienda and closer to the cemetery.
The second photo is from the opposite end of the first, in that Alan stood on the grass of the heart-shaped planter with the shadow of the palm tree in view. At the left is more of the graded area for the parking lot, while a stack of cement pipes is also of note. Beyond the pipe is a trio of olive trees that may well have survived from the years when the Temple family owned the Homestead in the 1920s. Those trees are still with us, surviving even as a new industrial building was constructed next to them back in the 1990s and crews began tearing them out. My longtime boss, Max van Balgooy, happened to see that effort, contacted the City, and the removal of those trees was halted.
At the center and right, of course, is the area where the Workman House, of which a part can be seen at the extreme right, La Casa Nueva, and the Water Tower and Pump House are situated. The massing of oak, sycamore, palm and deodar trees show how overrun with growth the property became in the decade or so since El Encanto made its move to its new quarters out of view and behind the Workman House.
The next photo shows the Gallery site with the earliest signs of grading and staking laid out, as well as some vertical strands of rebar placed for the northwest column. This site was where William Workman, in the mid-1860s, built the largest of three brick winery buildings as he was increasing his agricultural production after a devastating period of floods and drought did tremendous damage to his cattle ranching enterprise. The wineries stood for over a century, including conversion by Walter P. Temple in the late 1910s and early 1920s to an auditorium, dining hall, and garage, until they were razed by the Brown family about 1972.
Note that just to the left of center there are two power poles and lines that brought in electricity to the site from Turnbull Canyon Road (there is a small substation at the corner with Don Julian). This was all redirected underground for the restoration project. Just behind the clump of rebar for the column is the entrance to La Casa Nueva and one of the original cement planters is visible at almost dead center.
The tall palm tree right of center stood just off the southeast corner of that house and was transplanted from San Gabriel, where Walter Temple developed land across from the historic mission, and photos from 1925 of the tree being placed next to the house claimed it dated from 1775, when the mission itself was “transplanted” from its original location in the Whittier Narrows area where Temple was born. Unfortunately, the tree died three years ago after over ninety years in its second home.
At the right is a portion of the Water Tower and the wood-frame Pump House, both dating from the late 19th century after the original water source for the Workman House, a well originally just a few feet from the house and then, in the 1870s, enclosed in an addition at the southeast end of the building, dried up. This second well, which was drilled down roughly twice as deep (some 75 feet as opposed to about 30 for the first one), was tapped, by the 1920s, with an electric pump. The water was then sent by a pipe to the upper deck of the tower and stored in a large wooden tank.
In this photo, as well as the next one, it can be clearly discerned that the pump house is missing shingles on its roof and there was so much termite damage that the structure was razed and a larger replica built in its place, with the additional room allowing for the placement of the main electric panels for the renovated historic site. As for the Water Tower, the limited view of it shows similar damage to the third-story wooden deck and four-gabled roof, though the next photo is even clearer as it shows the entirety of the structure.
Far more elaborate than most water towers, which are generally of wood-frame with a platform containing the tank, this one is of tapering red brick, covered by stucco by the 1920s, and then with a large tank deck with a trellis wall about half the height and the area above that open. Atop the shingled roof is a crow’s nest, though the photo shows extensive damage to the roof, including a collapsed facie board on the south side, extensive losses of shingles and the nest, which at one time had a flag pole surmounted by a weather vane, with many missing elements. The hatch leading from the deck to the nest is visible on the south side.
The fifth image is taken a little to the west of the Gallery building site and looks directly towards a driveway, behind the chain link security fence, that is between the Workman House, hidden behind the profuse growth of oak trees, and La Casa Nueva, also obscured behind abundant overgrowth of trees, though that arched entrance leading to the home is clearly shown to the upper left. At the right, with a large overgrown bush or shrub in front of it, is the Pump House and part of the west side of the Water Tower.
In the foreground, marked off by wooden stakes and some evidence of grading, and with a rough wood table standing off to one side, is the site of the Glorieta. This landscape feature was added, according to some sources, so that it provided a visual centerpiece to the site as delineating the west end of the Pío Pico Memorial Walkway, with El Campo Santo being at the opposite terminus (this replacing the Evergreen Lane extension of Don Julian Road through the ranch.) Evidently, the gazebo, which is smaller than full size, was modeled after ones seen in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.
The last photo is taken from a second-story south-facing window of the Water Tower and looks over the Gallery building site. The southern column locations with the rebar strands exposed are near trenches dug around the three sides of where the structure would soon be erected. In the midst of the pad are four square depressions and near one of them are a pair of saw horses with a two-by-four piece of wood on it and other pieces of wood piled to the left, while other construction pieces are scattered in a few places.
At the top of the photo is the dirt bed for Don Julian Road as it curves gently along the south side of the future museum property and at the top left would become the entrance to the main parking lot for the hospital. Interestingly, the original museum parking lot was located to the west and had just a couple dozen parking spaces and two bus spaces. When this photo was taken, the hospital project was still in the works, so the Gallery was built as a sales office and architectural sample for the various buildings planned for the medical center facility. It was later that, after that endeavor was scuttled, that the Gallery, which had a large center display and audiovisual room, a small conference room, two offices, a kitchen, a foyer and restrooms, was repurposed into a building for museum uses.
It was another four-and-a-half years before the museum opened to the public and, when these images were taken by Alan, little, if any work, had been done with the historic houses and what had to be done was extensive. That bicentennial project finally culminated in May 1981 with the grand opening of what was then called the Workman and Temple Homestead to the public, after about five years and several millions of dollars of time and monetary investment by the City of Industry, which has continued to be the sole funding source for the museum ever since.
As we approach our fortieth anniversary next spring, we’ll continue to highlight photos, as we’ve done occasionally to date, of the site’s restoration, so keep an eye out for those posts.