When the historic Doctors House arrived in Brand Park in 1980, it was “a sorry sight,” Marie Luft wrote in the book “Memories of Glendale’s Doctors House, 1979-1984, A Labor of Love.”
“The key to the restoration’s success was the many volunteers who participated in the project,” she wrote. “Some worked all day, others put in a few hours. But what all had in common was a willingness to participate because of a love for our decrepit ‘lady.’”
One of those volunteers was a woman named Audrey Hales. Some time ago, her daughter, Alicia Greenwald, sent an email regarding her mother’s extensive involvement in the restoration; which included seeking out “appropriately dated historical items from across the country to furnish and fill out the history of the house.”
Later, I sent an email to Carole Dougherty, who along with Luft, led the restoration effort; asking for her memories of Hales.
Dougherty replied quickly. “At the beginning of the restoration of the Doctors House, Audrey Hales was our most creative and determined fundraiser. She, along with Sue Lazara, searched for authentic pieces to furnish the house.”
One of the ways the committee raised money in those days was with yard sales, Dougherty wrote in her email.
“Audrey managed several yard sales, using her back yard for the sale after storing donated goods in her garage,” she wrote.
“If she felt we didn’t have enough merchandise, she’d go to auctions in downtown Los Angeles, where she would bid on items that she could sell for more at the garage sale. She was very resourceful,” she added.
Hales’ entire family, including her husband, Barksdale Hales Sr., and her six grown children and their spouses, assisted with “the highly successful and notable garage sales, which took place at the family home, itself a historical home, a 1904 Sears ‘Mariposa,’” Greenwald wrote.
Not only that, she added, to help fund the future of the historical society, her mother created a cookbook and a children’s activity book.
“The cookbook was entirely her idea and product,” Dougherty wrote.
“She found the recipes and compiled them. Audrey wanted as professional a look for the cookbook that our meager resources could handle. I think she underwrote the printing of the first batch of books. She sought out Philip Dockter, a graphic artist, and charmed him into designing the wonderful cover of the cookbook. Philip’s mother collected antique dolls and later donated several to the children’s play room on the second floor,” Dougherty added.
The “Early Glendale Fun Book,” featuring the Doctors House, was published in 1987. Using line drawings and games aimed at a young audience, the book told the history of Glendale. Hales, along with Karen Lynn, wrote the text. The artwork was by Karen Kull Cline.
Hales’ family spent many hours helping out, Greenwald wrote. “There is not a room in the Doctors House that does not have a plaque recognizing her or a family member such as her oldest son, Dale Hales, for the authentic furnishing provided by our family’s efforts.”
Peter Rusch, curator of the Doctors House Museum, recently discovered those plaques for himself. While replacing wallpaper in the parlor and dining room, he had a good look at them.
“They are small (about 3-1/2” x 1-1/2”), gold in color, engraved and hidden in very obscure places in each room,” he wrote in reply to a query. “Thanks to you, I now know who placed them and why. This verifies that the house still has secrets to tell.”
Dougherty wrote that when Hales was diagnosed with a brain tumor, she and Luft were desolate.
“We asked what we could do for her. Her answer was that she would like to visit the beach,” Dougherty wrote.
They took her to the historic Adamson House in Malibu and then to lunch. “Every now and then I come across a picture we took at the time.” Dougherty added.
“Audrey’s love for the proper restoration and furnishing of the Doctors House was a big part of her,’’ Dougherty wrote. “I’m so glad her daughter got in touch with you, and you are remembering her in an article.”
To the Readers: