By Samantha SLAYBACK
Montrose once housed a sanitarium known as Rockhaven, run by women for women with mild mental and nervous disorders. Founded in 1923, Rockhaven closed in 2006 and supporters of the property are now looking to repurpose the site.
In 2008, the Rockhaven property was purchased by the City of Glendale. Many had hoped that the site could be turned into a park. Unfortunately, financial constraints have made that possibility currently unattainable. In 2013, the Friends of Rockhaven, a non-profit organization, was assembled to move the idea forward.
“[Friends of Rockhaven] formed out of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley to help take care of, clean and tour the 3.5 acres and the beautiful structures,” explained Friends of Rockhaven president Joanna Linkchorst. “We are also working to figure out a way to get the property made into a park.”
The Friends of Rockhaven had its first board meeting on Sunday, gathering at a fellow Friends’ farmhouse garden in Eagle Rock. Forty people attended the meeting, which is the reason why the gathering couldn’t take place at Rockhaven. Because it is currently closed, no more than 20 individuals can be on the property at one time.
The main purposes of the meeting were to introduce board members and present possible bylaws, though members were given the chance to share what they would like to see happen with the property. Among the attendees were Glendale City Councilwomen Laura Friedman and Paula Devine, and David Gould from the Crescenta Valley Water District, which is doing work on the property.
“Former charge nurse Jeanne Reese also came, as well as the widow of the former gardener [Ivan Cole] who shaped and created the most incredible gardens for these ladies and their visitors,” said Linkchorst.
The gathering took place from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., though the official meeting time was from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Members took the extra time to get to know one another over refreshments.
Members of the Friends of Rockhaven have strong hopes to turn the old sanitarium grounds into a park that the entire community could enjoy. There are still several original founding members of the non-profit, including Linkchorst. Though whether old or new, all members share in the desire to revamp the property.
“It is so peaceful, so remarkable, so unique and yet representative of history: mental health, women, local, state,” said Linkchorst. “We have an opportunity to do something incredible here.”