The story behind Kenneth Village, the cluster of shops on Kenneth Road between Sonora and Grandview avenues in northwest Glendale, goes back to a time before those streets even existed.
It was a time when it was open country, west of the little village of Casa Verdugo, and totally separate from another settlement to the southeast called Glendale.
Vineyards, citrus orchards and commercial gardens covered most of the land. The most dominant man-made feature was a small cemetery, called Grand View, which opened in the mid-1880s, and it was one of the few such places around. (Forest Lawn didn't open until 1906.)
There were a few houses. Walter Dow built one in 1896 near Central Avenue. The house and barn were on a slight knoll, surrounded by 11 acres of orange and avocado groves. The front porch faced south, overlooking the yet-unincorporated town of Glendale, and the back door opened onto a dusty lane then called Baugh Road.
Around 1900, L.C. Brand purchased a huge swath of land, brought the Pacific Electric railway to the north end of what is now Brand Boulevard and built a mansion at the top of Grandview Avenue.
Baugh Road, which ran behind the Dow house, was renamed some time before 1910. In those days, voters were few and far between, and one year, when the county supervisor was up for reelection, he visited the Dows and asked if he could do anything for them.
Their young son, Walter, jokingly requested that the road's name be changed to Kenneth in honor of his middle name. A week later, much to his surprise, the boy saw a big white sign at Central Avenue and Baugh reading "Kenneth Road," according to information on file in Glendale Public Library's Special Collections.
But, mostly, it was still open country without stores or services; those were all over in Casa Verdugo, on Central near Stocker Street.
Two grocery stores were there, along with the Pepper Tree Inn, a theater and a few other businesses. The famous Casa Verdugo restaurant was near the terminus of the Pacific Electric line at the top of Brand, according to a 1913-14 Glendale City Directory, also provided by Special Collections.
In the early 1920s, Len C. Davis purchased the cemetery, renamed it Grand View Memorial Park and added a 40-foot arch, complete with electric lights over the entrance on what is now Glenwood Road.
Four years later, he built a huge mausoleum, over 1,000 feet long, along Sonora between Kenneth Road and Glenwood Avenue. The exterior wall has become a significant landmark in the area.
Glendale incorporated in 1906, and in the early 1920s, the population exploded. All that open land was rapidly subdivided and Casa Verdugo was annexed into Glendale in 1926.
Before Brand died in 1925, he deeded his house and 800 acres to the city for an arts library and park. Later, some of the adjoining land was subdivided and a strip of land north of the cemetery was set aside for commercial use.
Several businesses soon opened. The 1927 city directory indicates Grand View Grocerteria at 1404 Kenneth Road and two service stations, one owned by Blackwell & Son at 1435 Kenneth and the other by J.A. Snow at 1327 Grand View.
They were the forerunners of the Kenneth Village we know today.
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