From restricted club to suburban enclave

Whiting Woods, in the Crescenta Valley, is a peaceful enclave with some 170 homes and fewer than 400 residents, not counting animals such as deer, rabbits, coyotes, snakes, and bobcats which are sometimes seen.

The neighborhood boasts many live oak and sycamore trees that provide shelter for people and animals alike; both trees are indigenous to the region and are protected by a City of Glendale ordinance. Hiking trails at the top of Whiting Woods and Mesa Lila roads offer residents a place to stretch their legs and a seasonal stream running through the area makes Whiting Woods a restful place to live.

But it wasn’t always so. In the early 1900s, the property was known as the Pasadena Mountain Club and entrance to the club was restricted to those who paid 25 or 50 cents for a membership card. This fee prevented the club’s owner from being arrested for selling liquor to the members, according to a 1953 Ledger article. Near the small clubhouse were 10 one-story cabins used as bedrooms.

In 1915, Perry Whiting became part of Whiting Wood’s story. Whiting, a self-made man born in Michigan, had amassed a fortune through ingenuity and hard work, the Ledger article observed, and he had come to the area to retire.

Whiting was living at 3150 Honolulu Avenue in La Crescenta when he discovered that his company, Whiting-Mead, had a lien on a nearby property that had recently been closed by the district attorney under the red light abatement act. He went to check it out and discovered a small clubhouse set in a canyon in the midst of 44 acres of mountain land, “all except about 10 acres of which was too steep for any practical use,” he wrote in his memoirs, ’Perry, Experiences of a Pioneer,’ in 1930. Excerpts from Perry’s book are included on the Whiting Woods website.

The property made a strong impression on him. “It pleased me very much, from the fact that there were a great many Live Oak and Sycamore trees. Such places as this are not plentiful in Southern California.” Seizing the opportunity, Whiting purchased the property and remodeled the clubhouse into a residence.

Within a year or so, Whiting saw an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times regarding 415 acres in the Crescenta Valley that were for sale. He contacted the owner, a Wisconsin resident, and discovered that the advertised land adjoined the property he already owned. “This land was very beautiful, having a regular forest on many parts,” Whiting wrote.

After negotiating the price for several months, he bought the property, outbidding another Wisconsin man, who, according to the Ledger, 1953, planned to subdivide the property into several small chicken ranches.

In early 1921, Whiting’s ranch house "burned to the ground, furniture and all,” he later wrote. Nevertheless, later that same year, he purchased 260 acres of flat meadow land further up in the canyon from a truck farmer who was growing vegetables with water provided by natural gravity from the surrounding mountains, according to the Ledger. This third purchase brought Whiting’s holdings to 670 acres.

Whiting eventually built a large white house overlooking the canyon and the valley, and it was there that he wrote the story of his life and of his land, now known as Whiting Woods.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World