The Montrose Country Club
Continuing my mini-series on some of the promised (but never delivered) features of Montrose 100 years ago, we’ll take a look at the country club that was to be a feature of the new community. Recreational facilities are a common feature of upscale large developments today. The Oakmont development that spreads up the Verdugo Mountains to the south of us has at its crest a small park and tennis courts for the use of the residents. The sub-division Rancho San Rafael that’s just over the ridge to the east of the 2 Freeway near Glendale College has a full recreation building, a pool and tennis courts for its property owners. Yes, common today, but 100 years ago the promise of such a feature was probably a unique draw to potential buyers. The Montrose Country Club concept was featured in the original sales brochure, and in several ads and articles in the L.A. Times in the summer of 1913, a few months after sales of lots began.
The country club was to be situated on four acres of land on the northwest corner of Montrose Avenue and Ocean View, a block of land extending from Montrose Avenue all the way up to where the freeway is today. It was prominently located in the new subdivision, being at the very center of the street patterns, and conveniently located right next to the trolley line that ran along Montrose Avenue. The landscaped grounds of the country club would feature tennis courts, handball courts, a golf putting green, croquet grounds, and a children’s playground.
The centerpiece of the Montrose Country Club was to have been the large recreation building. An architect’s sketch of the building was featured in both the sales brochure and the news ads and articles. It showed a large one-story stone structure of Craftsman style. From the pathway to the street, wide steps led up to a deep, covered porch around the front and side of the building, where easy chairs were located from which to enjoy the view. Massive stone columns on each corner of the building were topped with planters from which grew tall Juniper trees. The columns supported a ceiling of heavy rough-hewn timber, the rafters of which projected out from the sides. The roof was flat with a low railing around the edge. On top of the building were to be gardens and a pergola, a light trellised open structure, presumably to be covered with vines. Below, inside the building itself would be a library, card and billiard rooms, a tea room, kitchen, and a large reception area. The clubhouse was supposedly already designed by John Austin, a prominent L.A. architect. The cost was to be $15,000, a significant sum, as an average house could be built for less than $2,000. The developers, the Holmes-Walton Company, would be picking up the construction cost.
According to the literature, this “practical social family club” as they called it was to be open to all residents of Montrose. Active membership with moderate dues would be limited to property owners in Montrose. They would control the club with the help of by-laws, and the club was to become the social center of the community.
No one seems to know what happened to the Montrose Country Club concept. I suppose the idea was quietly dropped by the developers, once enough lots had been sold to ensure a profit. We can imagine the consternation of some of the first home builders in Montrose who perhaps had in their minds the idea of walking to the clubhouse after work and enjoying a card game or playing pool with neighbors. Maybe they thought about their kids enjoying summer days at the tree-shaded playground outside the clubhouse.
For several years that plot of land was empty, but in the ‘20s the phone company built their offices there. Today that piece of land is the home to a couple of commercial buildings and is surrounded by apartments. Next time you drive through the intersection of Ocean View and Montrose Avenue, look up to that northwest corner and envision our lost country club.