A Bit of History

I grew up in Southern California, not more than 30 miles from where we are staying here u Los Angeles. And yet, having been gone so long, the city feels weird and un-homey.

Portland is green, damp, hilly and closely packed. Century-old trees and tall Victorian houses make the views short. Los Angeles is tan, dry, flat and spread out. Historical anythings are hard to find and long, straight views are common, but not exactly inspiring.

And yet we found a nifty piece of history yesterday. Shadow Ranch Park is a wide open green space with lots of trees (for LA), cool play equipment, and a delightfully old house right in the middle.

This is Shadow Ranch, a historic house built from 1869-1872 from adobe and redwood lumber, on the original Workman Ranch. The ranch began as a dry-land wheat farm owned by a group of investors led by Isaac Lankershim and Isaac van Nuts. These fellows are very big names in Los Angeles history, and have towns and streets named after them.

Sometime after 1869 Albert Workman, an Australian immigrant, bought a 9,000-acre parcel of the ranch, which had a thousand head of cattle. He imported Australian eucalyptus tree seeds from his homeland and planted them on the ranch. Because the climates are similiar, the trees have done very well. Chinese ginkgo trees and California pepper trees also do well here, making some much appreciated shade.

The house has been owned, over the years, by ranchers, and later, folks who worked in the movie industry. Florence Ryerson, who co-wrote “The Wizard of Oz” screenplay lived here in the 1930s. “The Children’s Hour”, a very tense dramatic movie, was actually filmed in the house.

It was nice to find a piece of history in this sea of newness.


Grandma Judy