Verdugo Views: The Dryden homes

Three houses designed by Nathaniel L. Dryden stand in northwest Glendale. Two — El Miradero and Ard Eevin — are on Mountain Street and the third is on Grandview Avenue.

Of the three, Dryden is best known for El Miradero, which is now Brand Library. He also designed several other dwellings, including a Beverly Hills estate.

Dryden's entry into Glendale was through his wife, Helen, sister of L.C. Brand.

Helen, known as "Nellie," and Dryden were both born in Missouri. They had two children, Virginia, born in 1877 and Ada in 1880.

Helen inherited a sheep ranch in Texas, but after suffering drought-related losses in that state, they moved to Los Angeles around 1887. Perhaps they were inspired by Brand, who had already settled in Los Angeles.

By 1902, the year Ada married W. P. Thompson, the Drydens were living on Vermont Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Times, June 12, 1902.

But the next year, when Virginia was married, they were living on Harvard Boulevard in the Wilshire area.

At first, L.C. and Mary Louise Brand also lived in Los Angeles. Then L.C. purchased land in Glendale and asked his brother-in-law to design a house, El Miradero. The architecture was inspired by the East Indian Pavilion at the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893.

About the same time, Brand encouraged a young friend, Dan Campbell, to buy adjoining property and suggested that Dryden also design their house. The two-story, West Indian plantation-style dwelling was lighted with acetylene gas, according to the Glendale News, October, 1905. They called it Ard Eevin.

The third northwest house designed by Dryden was for his daughter Ada and her husband. Their wood-shingled, two-story house was built just a short distance down the new thoroughfare, Grandview, from El Miradero.

Dryden designed another home, a very notable one, for his daughter Virginia.

Virginia Dryden met Harry Robinson, heir to J.W. Robinson Department Stores, right after her family arrived in California. After their wedding and an extended honeymoon, they purchased several acres from Burton Green in Beverly Hills, and her father designed the mansion that is now part of Virginia Robinson Gardens It was built in 1911, according to the gardens' website.

"He was not a professional architect, but he designed the Brand home in Glendale and a downtown (Los Angeles) office building," Robinson told the Herald-Examiner, August 22, 1971. In 1893, Dryden partnered with Robert Young to construct an office building on Spring Street.

Dryden also invested in local real estate in the early 1900s, purchasing a block of 24 lots at the corner of Brand and Fourth (now Broadway) from his brother-in-law. He had contracts out to build 12 houses costing from $3,500 to $4,000 each, but it's not known if they were all built. On March 8, 1904, the Times reported that he had completed one at Brand and Third.

By the 1920s, Dryden was living with his daughter Ada on Grandview. He died in 1924 at age 75 and was laid to rest in the Brand family cemetery. Ada's husband had already been buried there and Brand himself was buried there just a year later.

To the Readers:

Nathaniel Dryden was part of a large family that traces itself back to an illustrious Virginia settler, David Dryden.

Now, several descendants of David Dryden, who died in 1772, are planning a two-day reunion — open to all Drydens. On June 28, the Virginia Robinson Gardens will be open exclusively for the Dryden reunion.

On June 29, Dryden descendants will gather at Brand Park to hear Nathaniel Dryden's story. Brand Cemetery will be open to reunion members that day.

For more information about this event — open to those who have a Dryden connection — contact reunion organizer Keith Biever at (425) 501-9769 or biever36@comcast.net.

If you have questions, comments or memories to share, please write to Verdugo Views, c/o News-Press, 202 W. First St.., 2nd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please include your name, address and phone number.

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