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Victorian architecture is that architecture which was popular during the 1837-1901 reign of England's Queen Victoria. Victorian architecture borrowed from popular European styles of architecture which came before it, as well as incorporating art forms which were popular during the sixty-four years of Queen Victoria's reign.

The Victorian houses in Monrovia are almost all in the Queen Anne style which was popular from 1880-1910. The Monrovian Victorians have the steeply-pitched, irregularly-shaped roofs, the patterned shingles, the front-facing gables, cutaway bay windows, and the wrap-around porches most commonly found in a Queen Anne. Sometimes the Queen Anne has a tower, and when it does, that tower is most likely situated at either corner of the front of the house. A few Monrovia Queen Anne-style houses have incised Eastlake detailing and others have Romanesque features of rounded towers with conical roofs, and arches over windows, entry ways, and porch supports.

The Monrovia Neoclassical is symmetrical with center-placed entry, round or rectangular columns supporting a full-height, but not full-width porch, and balanced windows.

Another Monrovia Victorian-style house is the Shingle, which has shingling on the exterior walls from the ground to the roof. The Shingle-style may also have stonework on the exterior wall of the ground floor and shingling from the second story to the roof.

Sprinkled through Monrovia are houses which might be considered "Folk Victorian." In their book, Field Guide to American Houses, (see Reference List on the previous screen), Virginia and Lee McAlestar use this term to describe small, one or two-story houses which imitate their more opulent Victorian sisters in regard to exterior ornamentation.


131 E. Lime Ave,

James Elam Hunter purchased Lot 20 in 1888.  The size of the Lot was 50 x 100 feet and backed on to an alley.  No value was given in 1888, but in 1889, it was valued at $150.  Tax records show the property bouncing among Hunter, J.E. Coffin (a merchant from Whittier) and Sherman Smith, losing value steadily, until Anna Kate Collins bought it in 1904 and built a house valued at $850 on it.  

However, the permit records at City Hall show two permits for July 1921, one for a house and another for a garage.  The contractors are Book & Anderson. Adding to the confusion is the 1920 census record,  which shows Kate Collins and her daughter living at a house at 131 N. Myrtle Avenue.  Possibly Kate had major changes done in the 1904 house and that accounts for the permits in 1921.

As can be seen by the Sanborn map, the house had a small front porch, a back porch for doing laundry, and a small bay window on the east side of the house.  It is likely that the house had three bedrooms as the 1920 census, there are three people living in the house: a boarder, Kate Collins, and her daughter Catherine.

In 1921 there are two permits, one for a house and another for a garage.  The second house is very small and has the address of 131 1/2.  The one-car garage is at northeast corner of the property next to the alley. 

There is no demolition permit, but it is likely the house came down in the early 1950s when other houses on the block were torn down for a parking lot.


225-225 1/2 E. Lime Avenue

Levi Jackson Newlan owned this property from 1888 until 1907.  He built a  house, valued at $300 on the property in 1888 and lived in it with his  two sons.

The Sanborn maps show the house as being a small  structure with a front porch and a bay window facing east.  Given the  period of time in which it was built and the other houses built at the  same time which still stand, it is likely that the house was a wood  frame structure with modest Victorian architectural features.  There are  no permits for the house and the Sanborn maps show little change in the  house.

Levi and his son Charles A. were blacksmiths, and his  other son, Eugene Frank,  was a harness maker.  According to records,  Eugene Frank did not stay in Monrovia very long, so the house was  occupied by just the two others until Levi Jackson Newlan's death in  1906.  After 1907, his Charles sold the property to B.A.P. Eaton, a  retiree, who only owned his for two years, selling it to David S. West  in 1910.

David West lived less than a block away at 127 E. Lime  Avenue, and he rented out his new property over the years to many  people.  Sometime after 1927, an additional dwelling was built on the  lot with the address of 225 1/2.  Since there are no permits, it is  difficult to determine exactly when it went up.  However, there is a  1939 Monrovia directory entry for someone living at 225 1/2 E. Lime  Avenue, so the second dwelling went up sometime between 1928 and 1939.

There  is no demolition permit for this property, but it was probably razed in  the late 1950s or early 1960s when the houses on Lots 17-20 were torn  down for a parking lot to serve the utility company in the next block.


125 N. Myrtle Avenue

The north 70 feet of Lot 8 was purchased by John J. Renaker in 1889 from the owner of the Monroe Subdivision, William N. Monroe.  At the time, the land was valued at $150 and the house he had built on it was valued at $800.  John Renaker ran a mortuary with his two sons,  Charles Taylor and Leslie Morton, and his wife Elizabeth Stewart Renaker.  The sons lived in the house until they married,.  John Renaker died in 1904, and Elizabeth continued to live at 125 N. Myrtle until continued to live in the house until around 1926 when she moved into the apartment above her family's mortuary on the northeast corner of South Myrtle and East Lime Avenues.


127 E. Lime Avenue

Lot 19 was undeveloped until 1898 when Adeline Wright built a small house.  Sanborn maps indicate the house was made of wood.  The style of the house would have been a plain Victorian with little ornamentation.  The map shows the house to be small

There are no permits for the property, so it is unknown if there were alterations to it.  There is no record of when the house was torn down, but it probably was razed around 1953 when the house to the west at 123 E. Lime was demolished for the California Water and Telephone Company and its parking lot. 


121 N. Myrtle Avenue

The tax records for 1888 list Edwin P. Large as the first owner of Lot 9, Block C.  At that time, the value of the land is $300 and there is no improvement on the property.  Tax records for 1889-1892 are missing, and the tax tax record for 1893 shows the value of the property still at $300 but a house, valued at $900, has been added.  

The tax records here are misleading as a panorama photo of the area in 1887 shows a house on the property.  Property was changing hands so quickly that city clerks often loss track of who owned a property and/or whether or not there was an improvement.  However, besides the panorama view, the May 28, 1887, edition of the Monrovia Planet states  that architects and builders, Messrs. Zimmerman and Blair have  plans...for a residence for E.P. Large at a cost of $3,000.  The "Blair" referred to is Luther Reed Blair, the architect of several other Victorian houses in Monrovia, one of which is still standing.

From 1895-1899, he house is owned by Lettie A. Forbes and increases in value to $1,000, but in 1900, Edwin P. Large owns the property again, but now house is gone.  The tax information for 1901-1904 is missing. 


119 E. Lime Avenue

Lot 17 stayed empty until 1907, when John T. Renaker built a small, rectangular-shaped house.  He never intended to live in it as he was a member of the Renaker family that owned a mortuary just down the block from Lot 17.  Death being a regular occurance in any community, the Renakers stayed busy.  For a period of time, they also had a furniture store.

In 1907, the house was valued at $500.  Though the property increased in value, the house did not.  In 1913, there is a permit taken out by Renaker to hook the structure up to a sewer.  Renaker rented out the house to different business owners who ran their businesses from the house.

In 1908, the building was used by Arthur Pomeroy for his real estate business.   Later in 1913, Leslie Renaker (brother of John T) had a furniture store there.

There is no demolition request for this house, but it was probably torn down in 1954 when the house to the west, 115 E. Lime Avenue, was torn down so that the California Water and Telephone Company could be built.


123 E. Lime Ave.

The the first owner is listed as Joseph Sartori, but actually the tax records don't list him as owner until 1891.  This property had a rough beginning, bouncing around from owner to  owner as the value of property in Southern California plummeted after  the land boom of 1888.  It is unknown who owned Lot 18 from 1888 until  1891.  Lots were changing hands quickly as speculators came to  communities like Monrovia buying property to flip quickly for a profit.   Many times buyers flipped properties by bills of sale because they  hadn’t had time to record the ownership with the County.  The land boom  was over quickly, and buyers went broke when they couldn’t unload their  property, so rather than pay taxes on property that had dropped over 37  percent, many buyers just walked away.  By 1890, Lot 18's assessed  valued had dropped from $600 to $200.

The tax record for 1891  gives Joseph Sartori, a successful banker, as the owner.  In 1891, the  property’s value had dropped to $125.  Sartori sold the property to  Charles E. Slosson, who was in real estate, and held on to it until  1903.  By then, the property value had been valued at $75 for the last  six of the eleven years he owned it, so he must have gotten tired of  waiting for property values in Monrovia to go up.  Subsequent owners  were in and out quickly: G.H. Smith owned it for one year, selling to it  to C.F. Monroe who appears to have only owned it for year.  However, it  is this year, 1905, that the tax records record show an improvement on  the property. 

 The value of the improvement is $600, indicating more  than just a barn.  It may have been at this time that the structure,  which had been moved from another location, first appeared. According to  Steve Baker, Monrovia City Historian, the house that appeared on Lot 18  in 1905 had actually been moved from Block G, Lot 13, on South Myrtle.   At that location, is was a combination business and residence of the  Venderink family.  The name of the business was the Venderink  Improvement Company, and it was involved in construction work.  The  Sanborn map and the illustration from the periodical The Wasp indicate  that the structure was in existence at least by 1887. 

In 1906, Monroe  sells the property to Mary Bear, and the value of the structure goes up  to $700.  She may have gotten into a little financial trouble because  the following year, there is a different owner, G.W. Morgan.  Mary Bear  owns it again the next year.    The 1908-1909 Resident and Business  Directory of Monrovia lists three women, Mary, Julia, and Alice Bear, as  living at the address.  I’ve been able to find no information about  them.

In 1910, Mary Bear sells the property to F.W. Rogers.  Mr. Rogers  seems to have used the property as a rental.  In the 1911, the Monrovia  Resident and Business Directory shows that Thomas T. Davis, employment  not stated, lived in the house with his two children: Charles Franklin  and Helen J., both clerks at the post office.  They only lived here for a  short time.  In the 1913-1914 directory, the Davis family, minus  Thomas, is living at 134 N. Myrtle Ave.  F.W. Rogers sells the property  the next year to S. Emerson Salisbury, a dentist.

The Salisburys had  been living at 337 N. Mayflower, and his dental practice was at 527½ S.  Myrtle Avenue (1908 Monrovia Directory).  He and his family moved to 123  E. Lime Avenue by 1913, but he moved his business to the American  National Bank Building at the corner of South Myrtle and Lime Avenues.  By 1924, Dr. Salisbury had moved his practice into his home.  This was  not unusual, and several doctors in Monrovia had their medical offices  in their homes as it was a great way to cut overhead.  The Salisburys  lived on in the house until at least 1945 when Fanny Salisbury died.  It  is unknown at this time exactly when Dr. Salisbury died, but it was  probably in the early 1930s.

The actual address of the dwelling, formerly the office/home of the Venderink family, first  appears on this property as 123 E. Lime Avenue on the Sanborn map of  1907.  The details from the Sanborn maps show that the footprint of the  main house is exactly the same from 1888 to 1907.  In 1897, a porch was  added to the back of the house.  In  1907, a front porch which wraps around the east side of the house can be  seen.  The 1913 Sanborn map shows a shed at the back of the property,  which has been replaced by a small auto garage by 1923. The illustration  shows the structure at its South Myrtle address around 1888.  It has  the typical Victorian front-facing gable design of the period.  What  can’t be seen in the illustration but is shown on the 1907 Sanborn map  is that the bay window on the south side of the house is replicated on  the north.

An  application to alter, repair, or demolish was filed by  the California Water & Telephone Co., located at 115 E. Lime,  on  April 2, 1952.  The application requests permission to demolish a  residence and a detached garage at 123 E. Lime Avenue.  This house,  along with others on Block B, was then demolished to build the California Water and Telephone Company and a parking lot for the utility's workers.


215 E. Lime Avenue

John C. Anderson purchased three lots, 16-19 in Block A of the Town  of Monrovia Subdivision from the Monrovia Land and Water Company in  1888.  At this time, these lots on Lime Avenue were the northern  boundary of the Town of Monrovia.

Anderson, a contractor, built  this six-room house for his wife and sons.  One of the sons, George,  spent almost his entire life of 87 years in the house, and his mother  stayed on in the house,  after her husband died, until she died.   George's brother and sister-in-law lived in the house several years  until around 1924 they moved to 343 N. Ivy Avenue.

The California  Water and Telephone Company attempted to acquire the property for use as  a parking lot during the 1960's, but George Anderson would not sell.

On  George Anderson's death in 1974, the property was left to a charitable  trust.  When the old family home could not be sold due to many years of  deferred maintenance, funds were given by the trust to the Friends of  the Monrovia Library to purchase the home and restore it as a project in  connection with the celebration of our country's bicentennial.  After  the restoration was completed under the leadership of the late Brice  Tulloss, title to the house was given to the newly organized Monrovia  Historical Society.  The house today is furnished as it would have  appeared when the Andersons lived in it.

215 E. Lime is a Queen  Anne style house with some Stick-Eastlake detailing.  The asymmetrical  plan, decorative scroll work, and hip roof with front facing gable are  Queen Anne elements, while the frieze of vertical siding and square  chamfered porch posts are Stick-Eastlake characteristics.  The stairs to  the porch are flanked by solid wooden balustrades, and the original  scroll work porch railing has been replaced by one of simple square  posts.  The house was enlarged around the turn of the last century by  the addition of a bathroom, screen porch, and bedroom to the rear of the  house.

The interior of the house has twelve foot ceilings in each  of the original rooms and a broad central hallway.  The parlor,  furnished with an Eastlake parlor suite, is connected to the dining room  by massive pocket doors. An interesting feature of the dining room is  the service window into the pantry.  The only items of original  furniture in the house are in the dining room:  a settee with  stick-and-ball design and two side chairs which were returned by the  Moore sisters and have been refurbished.  The kitchen is dominated by a  wood burning range.  The front bedroom has been turned into an office,  while the middle bedroom features a bedroom site of birds-eye maple.   The rear bedroom, furnished as a children's room, has a four poster bed  with canopy.

A portion of the original barn remains at the rear  of the property, while two oak trees, planted long ago by John Anderson  to support a hammock, now provide ample shade for the rear yard.


508 S. Ivy Avenue

Among those who flocked to the new Town of Monrovia during the great  land boom of the Eighteen Eighties in Southern California was a young  architect, Luther Reed Blair.  Blair went into partnership with Uriah  Zimmerman, a building contractor, and the two men were responsible for  some of Monrovia's finest early buildings. The "Monrovia Planet": for  May 28, 1887 mentions that they had plans almost ready for the Orange  Avenue School, as well as the residences of M.S. Monroe, Jefferson  Patten, E.P. Large, and Dr. Stewart. 


Several months later the "Planet"  mentioned that Blair's personal residence was nearing completion at the  corner of Ivy and Olive Avenues.  Blair was active in Monrovia fraternal  circles as well as the business community, being a charter member of  both the Odd Fellows Lodge and the Masonic Lodge.

The general  stagnation after the collapse of the boom meant little work for those in  the building trades, and in 1895,  Blair sold the house to Andrew Ryder  and sought work elsewhere. The house was purchased in 1906 by Thomas  Wardall, who came to Duarte in 1878 and was prominent in that community before retiring to Monrovia.  Wardall was active in Monrovia real estate  during the boom, and again after the turn of the last century.

In  1910, the Wardalls moved into a new house in Wardall's Orange Grove  Tract, but retained ownership of the Blair House.  In 1927, the house  was moved sixteen blocks from its original location to 319 W. Duarte  Road, where it remained for nearly seventy years.  For over fifty of  those years, the house was owned by the Lisle family. When the last  family member to live in the house moved into a retirement facility in  1992, the property was placed on the market and the fate of the house  was uncertain.

That uncertainty was put to rest on April 12, 1993  when the Blair House returned to Ivy Avenue after a sixty-six year hiatus.  The City of Monrovia, through its encouragement and cooperation, was instrumental in making the project possible, and the  home of Monrovia's pioneer architect will be restored to appear as it  did on his drawing board so long ago.

The pictures here show the house at its present location.  The house is privately owned and is in the process of being restored.


113 N. Primrose Avenue

Some houses and properties have fairly complicated stories to tell,  and this is surely one those houses because the answer to the question  "Who was the original owner" can't be answered easily.

The present  location of this property is in the Monroe Addition, Block D, the south  150 feet of the east 57 feet of Lots 4 & 5, so the original owner  of the property was William N. Monroe.  He sold the property in 1888 to  John H. Bartle, a banker, and John T. Stewart, a doctor, both early  Monrovians involved in civic and business affairs.  The tax description  of what they bought reads this way:  Part of Lots 4&5 beginning at  the NE corner of Lot 5 thence N 150 ft. thence W 57  thence S 150 ft  thence E 57 ft to place of beginning.

Stewart and Bartle had  bought other property in partnership before, but Stewart meant this  property for a house for him, his wife, and son.  Rather than building a  house from scratch on the property, he purchased a house that had been  owned by and probably built for R.M. Mullally.

Mullally,  originally from Ohio, had left Los Angeles to try citrus ranching in  Duarte.  Apparently it didn't suit him and he moved to what the Monrovia Planet  (19 Feb 1887) referred to as an "attractive" house on Chestnut Avenue.   Though the Mullallys owned other property in Monrovia, this is most  likely the house that Dr. Stewart purchased in 1890 and moved to the  corner of N. Primrose and W. White Oak (now W. Foothill Blvd.).

When  the house was moved, the front of it was placed so that it faced south  with a lovely view of the sloping San Gabriel Valley.  The 1908-1909  Monrovia directory gives the address as 201 W. White Oak (now W.  Foothill Blvd).  Dr. Stewart fixed up the house and added a barn to the  property, but he didn’t live there long.  He moved his medical practice  to Los Angeles and sold the house to another doctor, Russell D. Adams in  1893.

Like William Monroe, John Bartle, and John Stewart, Dr.  Adams was considered a pioneer of Monrovia, and he was extremely active  in Monrovia civic affairs until his death in 1917.  So four of the five  men associated with this house were extremely important in the early  history of Monrovia which makes what has happened to the house even more  regrettable.

The house was a common style found in Monrovia known  as a "Folk Victorian", a miniature version of the more imposing  two-story Victorians, this one with Queen Anne detailing.  The porch  brackets are delicate and lacy, the corner brackets on either side of  the bay window are detailed, and of course there is the fish scale on  the front-facing gable.  The bay windows and the large window on the  other side of the door would have had great views of the town and the  rest of the San Gabriel Valley.  The very tall wood skirting around the  perimeter of the house is an indication that the house may have had a  basement at this time.  This WAS a real gem.

The damage to the  house didn't start right away.  After Adams' death in 1917, his two  daughters continued living in the house until the early 1920s when the  house was sold to the Lindstrand family.

The 1924 directory shows  Emil Lindstrand, who worked or owned the Willard Service Station at 123  S. Myrtle, as living at the 201 W. White Oak Avenue address, so at that  time, the house still faced south.    The 1927-28 directory gives Mr.  Lindstrand's residence address as 115 N. Primrose.  The subsequent  addresses list 113 N. Primrose as the address.  It was most likely at  this time that the wooden skirting was removed, and the house placed on a  raised concrete foundation, lowering the house's elevation.  Mr.  Lindstrand lived in the house for many years with his wife Betty and  daughter Leona.

Unfortunately, about 70 years ago the owner of the  sliced it up for multiple families to live in, and for many years now,  the house has been rental property.  In spite of the house's importance  to Monrovia's history, it cannot be landmarked unless much restoration  is performed on the exterior.  As can be seen from the original picture  and the way the house looks today, much of the original exterior  architecture has been removed and/or replaced with inappropriate  materials.  This is a real loss of Monrovia's heritage.

So who was  the original owner??  Monroe?  R.M. Mullaly?  Bartle and Stewart? Dr.  Adams??  Even though Mullally built the house, he didn't live in it long  and neither did the second owner, Dr. Stewart.  So I'm going with the  man with whom the house has been associated the longest, the man who  served on the first Monrovia school board as well as tending to the  medical needs of the community for twenty-four years, Dr. Russell Adams.

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