Verdugo Views: Woman led drive to form Cottage Grove Historic District

When Ute Baum went house hunting in 1976, she fell in love with a very old house on Cottage Grove Avenue. It was the only wood-sided dwelling on a very short street in the Adams Hill area. The others were stucco structures from the 1920s.

Very little had changed since the houses had been built, and Baum liked that. As time passed, she wished she could do something to preserve her street.

But she didn’t buy her old house with the idea of it being historic or leading a preservation drive.

“I just liked the neighborhood,” she said.

Baum came here from Germany with her parents in 1956. She enrolled at Glendale High, graduating with the Class of 1958. She moved away for a while, then returned and bought the house on Cottage Grove.

Describing herself as “very outgoing,” Baum quickly got to know everyone in the 14 houses on her street. In 1997, when the city of Glendale began redeveloping the Adams Square area, Baum participated in a planning event.

There she encountered Arlene Vidor, who was active in the Glendale Historical Society, the group that later spearheaded the drive to form historic districts.

Baum and Vidor both attended Adams Hill neighborhood association meetings, and when the subject of forming a Cottage Grove historic district eventually came up, Baum thought, “I can lead the way. I know my neighbors. The street is small and cohesive; how cool it would be if this was preserved.”

“It wasn’t an easy task. It took 10 years,” she recalled. “We had a high percentage of houses that qualified, but with only 14 houses on the street, we had to have nearly everyone sign on.”

There were several steps to the application process. One was to gather information on the neighborhood. Baum went off to see George Ellison at Special Collections and combed through old phone books.

“They were such a wealth of information,” she said. “They listed names, addresses, occupation and members of family. I gleaned a lot from those books.”

From there, she went to the city’s planning department to get plat maps showing how the subdivision was divided into streets and lots, and then to Los Angeles’ main library to look at other sources.

She discovered a 1918 map indicating that Palmer Avenue was originally Moore, and that her neighborhood was Ungerland’s subdivision. Other research indicated that her house was built on the corner of Palmer in 1901 and was later moved 10 feet back to make way for an apartment.

The other houses on Cottage Grove were developed in the 1920s by the Fox brothers, John and Preston, who then lived at 1212 and 1221 Cottage Grove, respectively. The dwellings are predominantly Tudor Revival and were advertised in the newspapers in 1925 as “English Dream Houses,” according to the Glendale Historical Society’s website.

Baum recruited her neighbors to help get signatures on the petition to form a historic district.

“We succeeded in getting 12 out of the 14 homeowners to sign,” she said. “Because of the high percentage, the city moved the final application through quickly.”

On Oct. 28, 2008, the Glendale News-Press reported, “A cottage-lined street at the foot of Adams Hill is close to becoming a historic district.” The designation became official on Feb. 3, 2009. “Five houses are now occupied by second-generation owners,” Baum said. “This neighborhood has something going for it.”

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Katherine Yamada’s column runs every Sunday. 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.glendalehistorical.org; call the reference desk at the Central Library at (818) 548-2027; or visit the Special Collections Room at Central on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. or make an appointment by calling (818) 548-2037.

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Readers Write: Connie Carlson Hanson recalled the neighborhood sign that stood at both ends of Mary Street in the Crescenta Valley in 1953.

“There were many olive trees on our street — and in our backyard. There were signs at both ends of our street declaring it Olive Woods.” She said they were wooden signs and had an olive tree design on them.

Hanson and her parents, Dave and Marie Carlson, and her younger brother, Tom, left a brick house in Chicago and moved West along with her grandparents, Edward and Matilda Ohlund.

“We bought two brand-new ranch houses, which shared a long driveway up to the two garages.” The backyards were connected. “It was amazing to move from Chicago’s cold climate and live in a place with the San Gabriels in the background.”

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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.

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