An aerial view of Northwest Glendale, taken in 1927, showed Glenwood Road as a significant dividing line between a settled residential area and a huge swath of empty land — once filled with vineyards.
For many years, the vineyards supplied grapes for a winery on Olvera Street.
They were owned by Antonio Pelanconi and his wife, Isabel. After his death, she married Giacoma Tononi.
The property was maintained by her son, Lorenzo A. Pelanconi, but when Isabel Tononi died in 1917, the process of settling the estate began.
Development was soon underway and by 1926 the city was laying plans for a park on a triangular piece of land between Glenoaks Boulevard and San Fernando Road.
One of the largest parcels was subdivided by Walter B. Davis, who was also developing Grand View Memorial Park about the same time. Davis set out to create an ideal community with “wide, slightly curved streets and boulevards with wide parkways between the sidewalk and the curb for the many trees he intended to plant,” according to a 1927 Glendale Evening News article.
One of his first improvements was to cut a road, Highland Avenue, through the old Pelanconi property, from San Fernando to Kenneth Road. Later, the street was extended to Cumberland Road. He also extended South Street, Palm Drive, Dryden Avenue, Glenoaks and Arden Avenue toward the west to connect with Highland.
Several streets in the development were named for the family, including Alma, Tononi, and, of course, Pelanconi Avenue. A nearby street had previously been named Davis by the developer.
“The opening of the Pelanconi vineyard has long been hoped for by the community. It has been somewhat of a mystery to many as to why this large tract remained undeveloped so long when all the surrounding property was being subdivided and built up,” the Evening News writer said in 1927. He added that the estate had only recently been settled.
By June of the next year, the park hadn’t yet appeared and when plans that did not contain a park were submitted to the city, Councilman W. F. Tower thundered, “Glendale is in need of more parks. People who will live in the tract will be thankful to the city and to the subdividers if park space is given them near their homes.”
Glenoaks was extended from Brand Boulevard all the way to the Burbank city limits in 1928 when the Pelanconi heirs and the Pacific Electric railway deeded the right of way through the old estate. The boulevard was built on either side of the railway.
A story on Pelanconi Park in a 1947 issue of the Glendale Star newspaper described it as a triangular property south of Glenoaks (bounded by Cleveland Road, Grandview Avenue and San Fernando), filled with flowers, bushes and trees, along with an array of Madame Dupont pink cannas. Many of the plants and trees were donated by private citizens, and the California holly was raised from seedlings taken many years before from the Glendale College site.
The park, divided into three sections, had a picnic area and playground in the center section. The children’s playground was on the east side, with swings, “teeters,” tether ball stands and a sand pit. Between the picnic grounds and the children’s playgrounds, a row of Chinese weeping elms formed a canopy for flower beds. A garden path wound along the stone terrace separating the north and central areas.
A baseball stadium was built in the third section, with a grandstand and lights for night games.
NOTE TO READERS
Searching for information on the Pelanconi family, I contacted Suzana Delis, of Neighborhood Services. That department incorporated information from local residents into a brochure “Come Home to Glendale,” describing the city’s neighborhoods. Delis referred me to Hank Scheetz, who resides in the Pelanconi neighborhood, who and said he was a founder (and first vice president) of the Pelanconi Estates Homeowners Assn., which was set up in 2005. Patrick Mashi was the first president of the group that was formed to address rezoning issues on San Fernando Road and also the grade crossing at Pelanconi and San Fernando, known as the Flower Street extension.
E.V. “Gene” Gustavson wrote: “I attended Curtiss-Wright Tech, located on the Grand Central Airport premises in 1936-37, and seem to recall there was a popular nightclub and a California National Guard airport to the south and west of Grand Central. Also, Mary Pickford had her home, I believe, located somewhere near there.
After World War II, there was a camp located near where the L.A. Zoo is now and I’m of the opinion the National Guard airport was replaced by the camp.”
Gustavson hopes someone will have information on those facilities.
KATHERINE YAMADA can be contacted by leaving a message with features editor Joyce Rudolph at (818) 637-3241. For more information on Glendale’s history, visit the Glendale Historical Society’s Web page at 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 from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.