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Verdugo Views: 3 volunteers who helped move, restore Doctors House to speak at historical society’s anniversary event

Circa 1960 when the house was on Wilson and Belmont.
Members of the Glendale Historical Society gathered at the Doctors House years ago to celebrate the successful relocation and renovation of what has become one of Glendale’s most cherished landmarks.
(Photo courtesy Peter Rusch )

In the early hours on Sept. 16, 1980, an old Victorian house began a 5-mile trip through the streets of Glendale to a new home in Brand Park.

Walking alongside were members of the new Glendale Historical Society, formed in 1979 to rescue the house from demolition.

Built in the Queen Anne-Eastlake style at the corner of Wilson Avenue and Belmont Street and designated as a historical landmark in 1977, the house had been sold and was to be replaced by an apartment building.

The City Council had granted approval, saying they had no funds to save the house, according to “Memories of Glendale’s Doctors House, 1979-1984, A Labor of Love,” written by Marie Luft, as noted in the Glendale News-Press, Sept. 10, 2010, edition.

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Many of those same members, all volunteers, returned to Brand Park week after week to contribute their talents to restore the house. Over the years, it has become one of the city’s most iconic treasures.

Three women involved in the saving and preservation of this local landmark — Carole Dougherty, Sue Lazara and Marie Luft — will speak at the Glendale Historical Society’s 40th anniversary celebration this month.

Peter Rusch, who has served as assistant director and curator of the Doctors House for many years, emailed information about the role each of the women played.

“Carole Dougherty assembled a coterie of her neighbors to stand before City Council in 1977 and defend the right of this Queen Anne Victorian to be rescued from the jaws of destruction and proved that the power of one person can make a difference if you firmly believe in a cause and fight hard enough for it,” Rusch wrote.

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Lazara researched the history of the house and “obtained the historically correct antique furnishings and paraphernalia that give the house the personal character that it has today. Her relentless quest for all things Victorian lingers in the hearts of docent volunteers today, 40 years later,” he added.

Luft, handpicked by Dougherty to be the project manager, “lovingly oversaw the cutting in half of the house, the zig-zag 5-mile journey through the city at night, and the eventual reassembling of the house that ended four years later. Her husband, Glenn, a structural engineer, was beside her every step of the way,” according to Rusch’s email.

Rusch added that all three “worked tirelessly to raise funds to secure and match community-block grants with comparable private sources during the five-year process.’’

The women will “reminisce about the journey they made four decades ago and share memories of the time and energy it took to make the Doctors House the symbol of historic preservation that it is today,” Rusch wrote.

Isabelle Meyer, longest-serving curator of the Doctors House, will also share her memories.

An updated edition of Luft’s book will be available. The event will conclude with a toast, cake and tours of the Doctors House.

Join the celebration at the historical society’s annual meeting and summer social from 4 to 6 p.m. on July 20 at the Doctors House Museum in Brand Park, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale.

The event is free for members, a $10 donation for guests.

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Readers Write

The following emails are regarding the Verdugo Views column about the Gollatz Cotillion that ran on April 6.

Pat Spencer wrote, “it was interesting to hear another student’s comment about the boys asking the girls to dance. I do remember now, Mrs. Gollatz telling students that a young lady always accepts a dance when asked. Thank you for the memories!’’

Another email from Virginia Young, whose son, Ron, took part in the cotillion when he was in about the sixth or seventh grade, around 1975 or ’76: “All the boys in the neighborhood were taking [the cotillion], so he was part of that.’’

He was the only one of her boys to take cotillion. “It was so much fun to get them ready. They met at our house in their shirts and ties and we took them down,’’ Young wrote.

She mentioned brothers Mike and Matt Leum as being part of the group and added, ‘’Mike Leum is still good friends with Ron, and I like it that he thinks of me as another mother.’’

Katherine Yamada can be reached at katherineyamada@gmail.com. or by mail at Verdugo Views, c/o Glendale News-Press, 453 S. Spring St., Suite 308, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Please include your name, address and phone number.

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