La Cañada $3½ Million House Had Origins in an Argument Over a Cow

I was recently contacted by a family about their home in La Cañada. They thought it had an interesting story that my readers might enjoy, and so it does!

This palatial home, valued at over $3½ million, was the home of community leader Dan Green and has roots in a ridiculous story involving a cow.

The story starts at the very beginning of the American history of our valley. Delia Dunks established a health resort/hotel in the early 1870s on the north side of La Cañada, about where today’s Angeles Crest Highway begins to curve up into the mountains. It was called Verdugo Heights and it was here in 1875 that Lanterman and Williams made plans to buy and subdivide the entire valley. Mrs. Dunks continued to run the resort but her husband died in 1879. Soon after that, Delia took up with the valley’s most irascible bachelor, Theodor Pickens.

Pickens had sold his cabin and property on Briggs Terrace. He soon moved in with Delia in her hotel as a financial partner (perhaps with “benefits”?). Things went well for a while but they were both stubborn and strong-willed so trouble was bound to happen between the two. After a big argument about extending credit to one of the guests, Delia laid down the law. They would divide the now co-owned building in half, each of them living in “their half.” Unfortunately, they also co-owned a milk cow. The four teats on the cow’s udder were divided; Delia milked two and Pickens milked two.

Pickens went off carousing on a weekend hunting trip with his buddies. While he was gone, Delia continued to milk her two teats, but refused to touch Pickens’ two teats. The poor cow painfully built up milk in the Pickens’ side of her udder, engorging the udder and nearly killing the cow. When Pickens returned, a huge fight ensued. The result was that Pickens physically cut his half of the hotel off and carted the structure down the hill to some adjoining property he owned. Fun story … well, not funny to the cow.

Sometime after 1890, the Green family from Missouri purchased the Pickens property, including the “half a hotel” that Pickens had cut off Delia’s place. They had a bunch of kids and one of them, Dan Green, went on to bigger and better things after growing up in the “half a hotel.” He got a job at 16 at the old Los Angeles Examiner, one of the Hearst papers. Green quickly worked up through the ranks as a crime reporter, eventually becoming the top crime reporter on the west coast.

Green married in 1917, purchased a couple of acres right next to the “half a hotel” and built a beautiful house which, even though it’s over a century old, is now selling for several million dollars. Green was big in the newspaper world, one of the founders of the LA Press Club, but it was in community service that he shined even brighter. He is credited with improving La Cañada’s schools, roads and flood control.

In 1932 he helped to found a local savings and loan institution to help local homeowners. Many La Cañada residents would have lost their homes in the Depression if not for him. He helped to form the La Cañada Irrigation District, which brought imported water to end the valley’s complete reliance on drying-up well water. In honor of his contributions the street was named Green Lane.

The Dan Green house at 1023 Green Lane is one of the historic gems of La Cañada, having belonged to one of the community builders of the valley. The four-bedroom, two-story house is on the La Cañada historic register and is eligible for the State Register. The original “half a hotel” that was the origin of Dan Green’s legacy is gone today, replaced by a modern mansion. We can assume the “half a cow” is gone as well. A high-end La Cañada mansion with a goofy origin tale. It’s a very “moo-ving” story. (Sorry!)

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical
Society of the Crescenta Valley
and loves local history.
Reach him at