Glendale still had a lot of open land left when a two-story house was built near the corner of Brand and Glenoaks boulevards. The house sat on a large piece of property extending from Brand east to Maryland Avenue and south toward the Verdugo Wash.
The year the house was built is unknown, but the Glendale News-Press reported on May 14, 1957, that it was first owned by a doctor named Brown. The house was purchased in 1911 by another doctor, R.L. Young.
The big flood of 1914 washed away the topsoil on the property, and "the fine stand of oaks which had beautified the place was badly damaged," continued the News-Press. (That flood caused $10 million in damage throughout the Los Angeles basin. Residents seeking relief from recurrent flooding pushed for action, and the following year, the Los Angeles County Flood Control District was formed.
For more information, see the county's Public Works website.) Young's property, so near the wash, was left bare after that 1914 flood. He began replanting with tropical trees and plants, including what was said to be the first banana tree grown in Glendale. Other plantings, including a redwood tree, came from all over the world, and the garden became a tourist destination.
The next owner was a young man named Don Baxter, who had been in China with the Rockefeller Institute. While treating cholera victims, he saw a need for an effective way to provide nourishment to surgery patients.
After his return, Baxter "discovered the gardens surrounding the house, fell in love, and bought it," the News-Press recounted. Using the basement of his new house as a lab, "he began a series of experiments which later gained him national recognition and resulted in the establishment of Baxter laboratories."
Eventually, Baxter moved his lab to a small industrial building on Gardena Avenue where he began making solutions on a commercial scale, as detailed by a 1958 Baxter brochure provided by Special Collections. The demand for these solutions was great, but they were shipped in fragile lab flasks. Baxter and his team perfected a safer container, a vacuum-packed liter of solution that was widely used during
It seems Baxter lived in the house on North Brand for a very short while, because by the mid-1930s it was taken over by Piedad Yorba-Sowl, who operated the fourth version of the famed Casa Verdugo in the house. The restaurant had begun on North Brand in the early 1900s, then moved to Louise Street and then to Mountain Street before relocating to the house near Glenoaks and Brand.
The fourth Casa Verdugo lasted only a short while. When it closed, Yorba-Sowl left Glendale behind and moved back to her former home in Los Angeles.
In 1939, Realtor E.V. Knauf acquired the property and held on to it for a number of years. He and his wife sold the house and what was left of the once-fabled gardens in 1957 to Penny Owsley, a Wilshire Boulevard music house that planned to construct a one-story office building containing a Hammond organ studio.
The 1957 News-Press article said the property, by then greatly reduced in size, was at 928 N. Brand, just north of a miniature golf course at the corner of Brand and Glenoaks.
Katherine Yamada's column runs every other Friday. To contact her, call features editor Joyce Rudolph at (818) 637-3241. For more information on Glendale's history, visit the Glendale Historical Society's web page: http://www.glendalehistorical.org; call the reference desk at the Central Library at (818) 548-2027; or call (818) 548-2037 to make an appointment to visit the Special Collections Room at Central from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The 1957 Glendale News-Press article referenced above said the old house and gardens were just north of a miniature golf course at the corner of Brand and Glenoaks boulevards. Tom Van Dalsen, Hoover Class of 1956, said he used to play miniature golf on the northeast corner of that intersection when he was a student at Toll Junior High.
"It was quite elaborate," he recalled. "It had a windmill which turned and you had to hit the ball in at the right time. Also, if you got a hole-in-one, a buzzer went off and you got a free round of golf."
Marilyn Chrisman, who grew up on Irving Avenue, said Waldron's nursery was on that same corner at a different time. Van Dalsen, Chrisman and another resident, Ruth-Anne Nardoni, said the miniature golf place later moved to Arden Avenue.