Montrose gets ready to celebrate 100th birthday

This post has been corrected, see below for details,

Lured by the promise of barbecue and profits, nearly 4,000 people reportedly showed up for the opening celebration of a "fine suburban town" known as Montrose on Feb. 22, 1913.

This weekend, the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. will try to more than double that number at the Western-themed centennial celebration honoring that first land sale.

“The more the merrier,” said Jake Menachian, the association's events chairman. “It's finally here, around the corner, and we're just hoping that people come and have a good time.”

Rather than the land sales and pigs on spits that were featured at the 1913 event, the centennial celebration on Saturday and Sunday will feature a horse parade, square and line dancing, carnival rides, games, face painting, walking tours and bullwhip and trick roping demonstrators.

All of it was organized to honor the birth of Glendale's own Mayberry-esque enclave.

After developing other plots in La Crescenta, the Holmes-Walton Co. bought up hundreds of acres of land now known as Montrose.

The land seemed undesirable at first because there was no water source, but the developers built a reservoir, although there are no records of where it could be today, said Robert Newcombe, a local historian and author of “Montrose: Images of America.”

“They were really appealing to people trying to make a killing in real estate,” Newcombe said of that first land sale event.

While Montrose may be known for its curving shopping street, Honolulu Avenue wasn't created until the 1960s, long after the local trolley shut down in the 1930s.

For Newcombe, the 1960s revamp is what boosted Montrose's small-town atmosphere.

“I actually think that it's more of a small town today than it was in the 1940s,” Newcombe said, pointing to historic photographs that show an urbanized area.

Although you'll find Starbucks and Bank of America wedged in between independent toy stores and clothing shops, many local business owners still talk about Montrose as if it were Mayberry — the fictional idyllic backdrop in “The Andy Griffith Show.”

“It's modernized a little, but I think it still has that feel, that cozy feel of small-town America,” said Ken Grayson, owner of one of the longest-running shops in Montrose, Grayson's Tune Town.

The centennial events are scheduled for 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in the 2200, 2300 and 2400 blocks of Honolulu Avenue.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

[For the Record, Feb. 21, 2013: In an earlier version of this story, Jake Menachian's first name was incorrect]

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