Weeks’ Garden-Home Colony Withered
“I have a dream of a community of garden homes made as beautiful as the mind of man can make it, wherein dwell musicians, artists and literary people,” Charles Weeks wrote of the one-acre poultry farms he envisioned in the West Valley in 1920.
Weeks’ idea was simple: Buy up large portions of land and sell one-acre parcels to families wanting a home, henhouse and large vegetable garden.
Previously the founder of such communities in Winnetka, Ill., and Palo Alto, Calif., Weeks sold his first acre of Valley land in 1922. By the end of the year, 41 families had paid $1,250 each for their own plots in the new California community of Winnetka.
Those interested in buying property in the colony were put up at the two-story Community House on the northwest corner of Sherman Way and Winnetka Avenue, originally called Walnut Avenue. Weeks was so confident in his dream that he co-signed loans for many families, a generous act that would later contribute to his downfall.
By 1924, nearly 500 families were part of the Weeks Colony, bounded roughly by Mason Avenue to the west, Parthenia Street to the north, Sherman Way to the south and Corbin Avenue to the east. They started a church and had a women’s club and even a Poultrymen’s Assn., which owned a warehouse and packing plant.
But with the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, the colony started to suffer. Families, finding it more and more difficult to support 2,500 chickens on one acre, took outside jobs. Many lost their land, and the loans that Weeks had co-signed were coming due.
Impending bankruptcy and litigation forced Weeks to leave California in 1934. Eventually, suburban development prevailed and the colony was no more.
But at least one aspect of Weeks’ dream remains today: The five acres that Weeks deeded to the Los Angeles City School District in 1925 is still home to Winnetka Avenue Elementary School.