The new owner of the old Wian family estate on Royal Boulevard in
Glendale's Rossmoyne district had never heard of Bob's Big Boy before
he went looking for information on his house's history.
The owner, David Naylor, was born and raised in England and not
versed in Southern California lore, so he was surprised when a city
official told him he was living in the house built by the father of
one of Glendale's most famous residents: Robert C. Wian, founder of
the famous Bob's Big Boy chain.
The house was built by Robert E. Wian in 1928 for his wife, Cora,
and their three children, Bob Jr., Dotti and Katherine.
David and his wife, Nancy, now fully aware of their house's
history, on Sunday invited the Glendale Historical Society and Wian
family and friends to witness the unveiling of a plaque designating
their Spanish Revival home as Glendale Historical Landmark No. 43.
About 100 people toured the beautiful multilevel Spanish house, which
still has much of its original detailing and tiles.
Dotti Wian Weis, along with her daughter, Sherri Mora, were there
to share her memories. Casey Wian, son of Bob Jr., and Edwin Kurvink,
son of Katherine Wian Kurvink, were also present. Both Bob Jr. and
Katherine are deceased.
Arlene Vidor, president of the society, spoke of the importance of
Glendale's architectural legacy, while Mary Scheer described another
illustrious owner of the house, Sterling Silliphant. Rep. Adam Schiff
(D-Glendale) presented the society with an honorary certificate on
the landmark celebration.
Chris Hansen, former head of marketing for the chain, brought
copies of his book "The Bob's Big Boy Story" and complimentary
In an earlier interview, Weis recalled that her parents, Robert E.
and Cora Wian, were living in Philadelphia when all three children
were born. Wian Sr. sold Wearever aluminum cookware, setting up an
event in a home and preparing and serving food using the Wearever
pans before giving his sales pitch.
Around 1924, when Weis was 5, the family came to California.
"My father had a friend who lived on Milford who invited him to
bring his family out," recalled Weis.
Her father bought a lot nearby and built a house for his family.
He continued to sell cookware, but soon opened a furniture store on
South Central Avenue.
"Dad was the entrepreneur of his time. He built a business from
nothing," she said.
Wian imported furniture from Europe for his new Jewel City store,
which Weis said is no longer there.
"It's probably under the freeway now," she said.
Weis was only 9 when her father began building his dream house on
Royal and she doesn't remember much about the construction. Mostly
she remembers lots of stairs.
"We ran up and down them when we were kids."
The Wian house was one of the first in the new Rossmoyne estates,
once part of the huge Verdugo estate.
Next time, more about Rossmoyne's history.
* KATHERINE YAMADA'S column runs every other Saturday. To contact
her, call features editor Joyce Rudolph at 637-3241. For more
information on Glendale's history, contact the reference desk at the
Central Library at 548-2027 or visit the Special Collections Room at
Central. It is open by appointment only.