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.