Town of Monrovia
The Town of Monrovia Subdivision was made up of lots 35-45 of the Santa Anita Track (shown in the picture to the below), owned by Elias J. Baldwin, and a sliver, owned by L.L. Bradbury, of the western section of Rancho Azusa de Duarte. William N. Monroe had previously purchased from Baldwin Lot 43 in order to build a home for his family. Other Santa Anita lots were purchased individually from Baldwin by Edward F. Spence, John D. Bicknell, James F. Crank, and J.F. Falvey. These men and Monroe all had known each other from business and society connections in Los Angeles. Spence was a former mayor of Los Angeles, Bicknell a former judge, and Monroe had served on the Los Angeles City Council. Crank, like Baldwin, had been a railroad builder, but he lived in Pasadena, not Monrovia. Jeremiah F. Falvey had been the foreman of Baldwin’s Rancho Santa Anita.
Together these men decided to combine their lots under the business name of the Monrovia Land and Water Company. They understood that the completion of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads to California would bring in many new people looking for homes and investment opportunities, so buying up land for a new community seemed a good move.
The combined lots Falvey, Spence, Bicknell, Monroe and Crank formed the Town of Monrovia Subdivision. (Please map to the right.) Engineers John Quinton and John Flanagan plotted out sixty acres, with the center at Orange (now Colorado) and Myrtle Avenues.
They divided the property into Blocks A-Y, and each block was subdivided into twenty-four 50 by 160 foot lots. The boundaries for the Town of Monrovia Subdivision were Magnolia Avenue on the west, Lime Avenue on the north, Charlotte Avenue (now Canyon Boulevard) on the east, and Walnut Avenue on the south. East and west running streets were given the names of trees: Lime, Lemon, Orange, Olive, and Walnut. North and south running streets were given the names of flowers and women: Magnolia, Primrose, Myrtle (Monroe's daughter), and Charlotte (now Canyon).
The Town of Monrovia Subdivision was recorded in Los Angeles by Judge Bicknell on May 21st, 1886. The Town of Monrovia Subdivision was itself subdivided almost immediately as the Monrovia Land and Water Company sold most of its holdings very quickly. The lucky buyers were the ones who turned around and sold their purchases for a substantial profit. Most of the buyers who held onto their purchases for speculation saw land values dwindle to a fraction of their 1886-1887 value. Consequently, there is almost no biographical information in this data base for many lot owners.
They purchased land here (but often erected no buildings), lost it quickly, and were never heard from again. Sometimes their names do not even appear in the tax records, and many lots owners are listed as “Unknown.” Other lots were sold for taxes (SFT), and the original owners walked away. Other owners had kindly friends make the tax payments for them. This type of tax information will be recorded on the specific lot history page. By 1886, Monroe was already living in Monrovia, though not in the Town of Monrovia Subdivision, and Spence's home was in the planning stages. Falvey had a citrus orchard in Monrovia, though he may have stayed in his residence on Baldwin property.
Additionally, Spence and Monroe had brothers who also lived in the town and their nieces and nephews attended local schools. The Monrovia Land and Water Company set up its office on Myrtle in the Town of Monrovia Subdivision. The fact that three of the five investors in the new town actually had business interests, homes, and extended families in residence may be considered a large reason why Monrovia survived the economic depression of 1888, when many other boom towns in the area dried up.