Chandler property gave way to Capistrano Circle

When the attorney for F.P. Newport Co. and the Verdugo syndicate that developed Verdugo Woodlands visited the area, he decided to purchase 3 acres on Cañada Boulevard for his own family. The property was later developed as Capistrano Circle.

The attorney, Charles L. Chandler, and his wife, Gisela, an accomplished linguist and ornithologist, had been living in Los Angeles, but relocated to Glendale in 1913. They lived on North Central Avenue while building their house, "Los Ritos."

A Feb. 29, 1924, Daily Press article described the site as one of the city's most picturesque, "an estate of several acres, which Chandler has been wise enough to leave in its original wild loveliness." The Chandlers became involved in local school and civic activities, and he served as president of the Verdugo Hills Council, Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts built a rustic clubhouse in the wilderness of the back acres, according to the Daily Press.

"They added to the house many times," said John Gregg, who developed the land in 1958. "The house reminded me of the Winchester House in San Jose; there were so many additions. The house had a big ballroom, gorgeous maple floors, and a 7-foot-wide stone fireplace."

The house was hidden from the street by a jungle of trees, mostly oaks, some sycamores, pine and one redwood, and lots of vines, Gregg said. The driveway crossed Verdugo Creek, which flowed through the property.

The Chandlers had three daughters.

"Three disasters hit the family," Gregg said. "The oldest daughter married and came home to have a child, but both died in childbirth."

They also lost the younger daughter.

"She was dressed to go out. She had on a dancing dress with many gauzy layers and was twirling around in front of the fireplace, but she got too close, and her dress caught fire."

Charles Chandler had a massive heart attack and died.

"The mother and the middle daughter became real reclusive after these tragedies," Gregg said.

In the mid-1950s, Gregg's father told him about a property that many other Realtors had tried to get.

"I walked back in there and talked with them about what would happen later," Gregg said. "The widow was in her early 80s by then, the daughter in her mid-50s. The daughter, Mitzi, worked for the city of Glendale for awhile."

Gregg made six or seven visits, listening to their stories and hearing their concerns.

"They hated the real estate brokers who had been pestering them for many years," he said. "By now, the land around them had been totally developed, leaving this 3-acre island." He added that Sylvan Lane outlines part of the property.

"They knew development was inevitable and that it wouldn't be easy to sell," Gregg said.

When they told him how much they loved the trees, he promised to save as many as he could and they sold it to him in 1958.

Since he was only 24 and a student at UCLA, his father co-signed the loan.

They laid out the plots to protect as many trees as possible, often orienting the houses around the old oaks.

Kata Zadeh, who bought one of the houses on Capistrano Circle about two years ago, loves the street and the trees.

"We looked a long time," Zadeh said. "Every house on the street is different, and this one has a huge oak tree in the front yard. We spend a lot of time in our yard."


Readers Write

John Hamell lived on Sylvan Lane from 1946 to 1950. He recalled visiting with the neighbor next door who rented a room from Mrs. Chandler, "the owner of the very large property behind us. He used to come up to our back fence and talk to us. When we got older, our father told us that the man was Harrison Ford, an actor from silent films. My father and grandfather both worked at Paramount Studios, and I think Ford must have enjoyed talking about 'old Hollywood' with my father."


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