Going, Going, Gone …
A Town is Born!
“Take an auto ride with us on Saturday. It’s Opening Day for Montrose, the new townsite, up beyond Verdugo Park. Our autos will meet you at Glendale Depot. Come up and enjoy the barbecue lunch which Senor J. Romero, the famous Spanish Chef, will serve 11 to 2. Be prepared to buy a lot or two. You’ve made money on your holdings in Glendale. You’ll make an even bigger profit if you buy now at the opening prices of Montrose.”
From the 1913 Holmes and Walton circular advertising the land auction that launched Montrose into the 20th-century, the preceding description was meant to appeal to the adventurous at heart and those with an eye for a good investment.
The 1953 “Progress Edition” of the Ledger Newspaper, the primary chronicler of Montrose history from 1922 until 1984, featured a 40th anniversary tribute commemorating the history of the town. It is perhaps the best description of the events which took place on a fateful spring day nearly a century ago.
“It was Washington’s Birthday in the Valley and the sky was clear with sparkling sun. In Montrose, at Clifton Place and Verdugo Blvd. over 4,000 people gathered to enjoy the tasty old-time barbecue, prepared by Senor Jose Romero. It was a great day – everyone agreed to that and one woman was heard to say ‘This must be the promised land.’
Nearby were parked many automobiles with their high wheels, well-braced windshields, towering tops, ample spare tires and man-killing hand cranks. Under the oak trees stood horses and buggies, still strong competition with the early-day autos. The year was 1913, and the day of course February 22. The occasion was the opening of the town of Montrose.”
Montrose, as we think of it today, owes its origin to this 300-acre land auction in 1913. Fred Anderson’s land office (located on the northeast corner at the juncture of Montrose Avenue, Verdugo Road, Honolulu Avenue and Verdugo Boulevard) was the first commercial building on the new site. From this unassuming little building were woven the future dreams of home ownership and financial security, of streets laid out in winding drives and good neighbors to call on over a hedgerow of roses.
It is said that history belongs to those with a pencil and a platform, meaning that the responsibility for our heritage lies with those who record our history and those with the means to pass it along. If this is true of the histories of great civilizations, it is certainly also true of those who record the history we find in our own backyards.
The fact that the 99th birthday of Montrose passed on Feb. 22 without notice by the City of Glendale, our local newspapers, our historical societies or our local civic groups illustrates the need to remain focused on the underpinnings which have long provided the foundation of our great strength in the Crescenta Valley, namely our sense of community.
I would like to wish Montrose a belated “Happy 99th Birthday.” Here’s to a hundred more!