By Sabrina WALENTYNOWICZ
Anyone who has ever found themselves at Crescenta Valley Park knows how beautiful and fun the park can be. But many may wonder about the strange stone archway that stands alone at the bottom of New York Avenue. Beyond it is a lovely meadow; where does it lead? Wait, people actually live on that mountainside?
These burning questions were answered on Saturday when the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley hosted a tour of one of the community’s hidden gems, Mountain Oaks.
Dave Meyers, a Mountain Oaks resident, was gracious enough to allow historical society guests into the secluded neighborhood for a tour and history lesson.
The Mountain Oaks property was originally purchased by the Kadletz family back in the 1920s. Various lots were then sold and 14 houses were eventually built, the last one being constructed in 1948. No new homes or structures have been built since due to very particular building codes and rules, but most of the homes in the neighborhood have been slightly altered or updated.
The Kadletz family also built a swimming pool, outdoor bandstand and dance floor, and a grand lodge that boasted a large dance hall and a second floor “gentleman’s club.” Ironically, that lodge also housed the family and Mountain Oaks’ caretaker. Over the years there were parties, proms, musical acts, beer gardens, beauty contests and loads of swimming at the Mountain Oaks resort.
But by the 1950s, Mountain Oaks no longer excited the masses and by the early 1970s the giant lodge had been dismantled and left to the mercy of the elements.
Though many families live today in this beautiful, secluded neighborhood, there is a stillness in the air that is reminiscent of a ghost town. The once bustling pool now stands empty with cacti and roots growing from the bottom. The only reminder of the once beautiful lodge is a winding staircase that leads to two stone fireplaces and a crumbling foundation. Out in the middle of the meadow are a few more fireplaces and an almost buried dance floor, now unable to accommodate foxtrot dancers.
The current homeowners love the serenity. They enjoy spotting deer and rabbits in their backyard, and are just far enough removed from the foothills community to see more stars in the night sky than an Angeleno is used to seeing. There is also a strong sense of community among the neighbors that puts La Crescenta and Montrose’s small town boasts to shame. Meyers and his neighbor Rod Bearden patrol the mountainside in golf carts as the neighborhood watch, and worked together to create a fire road with a wide enough turnaround for the fire department’s large trucks should a fire threaten Mountain Oaks.
Though Mountain Oaks no longer entertains hordes of people looking for some fun, the happiness that this place once hosted is evident in the skeletons of its buildings. And the current residents are perfectly fine with the slightly eerie reminders of Mountain Oaks’ past, preferring to preserve its history.
So to those who approach the mysterious stone archway: be respectful – this place has a history that deserves to be remembered and a wilderness that deserves to thrive.