Alice Lee Gregg, who began designing and building houses in Glendale in 1934, teamed up with her husband, J. Lee, and his brother, Clarence, in 1938 to form Gregg’s Artistic Homes.
They built some 2,000 houses and apartment units before the late 1940s, running the business from an office at 110 W. Lexington Drive, in the California Hotel. Their signature blue flag, emblazoned with a white “G,” indicated a Gregg home for sale and became a familiar sight throughout the city.
When the huge Pelanconi property, between Glenwood and San Fernando roads and Highland and Grandview avenues, was subdivided in the mid-1930s, the lots sold from $400 to $700, according to Carroll Parcher’s “In My Opinion” column in the Glendale News-Press on Feb. 28, 1989.
“They bought a good many lots and built houses for sale in what became Glendale Park,” Parcher wrote.
The Greggs moved into one of the houses, at 1121 Graynold Ave., before the street was even paved, according to a family record Alice Lee Gregg later wrote. Her son, John Gregg, said they lived there one year and then sold it for $6,950.
The tract’s model home at 1230 Idlewood Road sold for $6,500. Phil Johnson, who worked with them on several East Mountain Street homes, superintended the Glendale Park homes.
Another pre-war Gregg subdivision was Sunny Glen, above Glendale Community College.
“Nearly all of these homes were taken by the Glendale Freeway,” John Gregg said. “Only a few are left on Hillside Drive above Verdugo Road.”
His brother noted that Gregg-built houses have held up to earthquakes and other natural disasters.
“The only thing that has brought a Gregg home down has been the freeway,” Bob Gregg said.
In the late 1930s, Gregg’s Artistic Homes bought five large lots at Virginia Avenue and Olmstead Drive. The lots were split and 10 homes were built, five on Olmstead and five on Virginia. Alice Lee and J. Lee Gregg moved into one of the new homes in 1938. About 1939, Anabel and Vern Gregg moved here from Missouri and their daughter-in-law designed a house for them at Graynold and Kenneth Road.
Clarence Gregg, who had been living with his brother’s family, moved in and lived with his parents until he married Helen Heaston in 1942. The newlyweds bought a Gregg-built house at Olmstead and Virginia. Another Gregg brother, Edgar, soon arrived from Missouri. Gregg’s Artistic Homes sold him several lots (along with the house plans) at the corner of Virginia and Glenwood, and he went into business for himself. He later built other homes on both Merriman and Parkwood drives. John Gregg, who was born to Alice Lee and J. Lee Gregg in 1933, takes full credit for his younger brother’s arrival in 1940.
“I wanted a baby brother,” he said. “I didn’t know where they came from, but I started praying for one every night. One night, good friends of my parents, George and Kelly Jewett, came over for dinner. I walked up to Mr. Jewett and said, ‘I want a baby brother, what can you do about it?’ So, my parents began looking and adopted a boy from Children’s Home Society.
“Bob was such a success that Mom decided she wanted a daughter,” John Gregg added.
“I wasn’t praying for a sister,” joked Bob Gregg.
In 1944, Linda Lee Gregg joined the family. In 1946, the growing family bought an acre of orange trees at the corner of Kenneth Road and Highland Avenue (part of the Mattison Boyd Jones property next door) and built a large house.
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 www.glendale historical.org; call the reference desk at the Central Library at (818) 548-2027; or call (818) 548-2037 for 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.
TO THE READERS
Share in Glendale’s history by bringing your family photos and documents to the March 14 kick-off of the Glendale History Drive at the Glendale Public Library.
Help document Glendale’s history by bringing in photos and memorabilia pertaining to Glendale’s cultural and civic events, houses, buildings, places of worship and other interesting sites.
Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are encouraged for the kick-off day, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The drive will continue by appointment through the end of June. For more information or to make an appointment, call (818) 548-3752 or see the Glendale History Drive website www.glendalepubliclibrary.org/ historydrive09.asp
If you have questions, comments or memories to share, please write to Verdugo Views, c/o News-Press, 221 N. Brand Blvd. 2nd Floor, Glendale, CA 91203. Please include your name, address and phone number.