Thursday, July 31, 2014

Historical Landmark #5 Golden Gate Theater in East Los Angeles

National Register of Historic Place #82002192

Address: 5176 Whittier Boulevard, East Los Angeles, CA 90022

I moved to the City of Commerce at the young age of 5 in 1996, and every time I would pass through this building I would wonder what it was, it look old and abandoned but it was an impressive historic building. I grew up and learned that it was home to the Golden Gate Theater. As of 2012 this building is no longer abandoned and it is home to a CVS Pharmacy, despite angry outcries by the East Los Angeles community of not being able to restore into a performing arts center, a young generation can at least see the remains of the inside of this historical building.

The Golden Gate Theater was built in 1927, along side a retail building that covered the theater in a Spanish theme palace. The theater built in the corner of Whittier and Atlantic Blvd, seated nearly 1,500 people. According to Steve Saldivar,
Like many theaters during the 20's and 30's, it played silent films and filled the gaps with organ and orchestra music. By the 60's films shared the stage with live acts, rock concerts, and variety acts. By the 70's the theater reflected the changes in demographic, showing films with Spanish subtitles. 
In 1982 the Golden Gate Theater was listed under the National Register of Historical Places, however a steady decline of sales and other newer theaters around the East Los Angeles area forced the theater to close in 1986. Hopes of revival of the theater and shops were cut short due to the 1987 Whittier Narrows Earthquake which created structural damage due to fire. In 1992, the owners demolished the retail section of this lot and began to petition to remove the theater from the list of historical places in order to demolish it as well and create new development.  The City of Los Angeles did not approve of this decision and therefore kept abandoned until 2012 where the theater was converted into a 24 hour CVS.

As soon as this place was opened I went in just to take a look of the inside of the once theater. The inside of this CVS does remind me of old theater as your voice echoes and pictures of the original interior building are hung near the cash registers.

Retail Stores Covering the Golden Gate Theater

Golden Gate Theater
Abandoned Golden Gate Theater during the 90's after the retail shops were demolished

Present Day CVS Pharmacy

Like many theaters during the ’20s and ’30s, it played silent films and filled the gaps with organ and orchestra music - See more at:
Like many theaters during the ’20s and ’30s, it played silent films and filled the gaps with organ and orchestra music - See more at:
Like many theaters during the ’20s and ’30s, it played silent films and filled the gaps with organ and orchestra music - See more at:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hiking Adventure #3 Devil's Gate Dam

Address: Oak Grove Drive & Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

Top Elevation: 1310 ft. 

Our hiking adventure began as we parked at Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena, (No there is no typo there) This park is named after a chief of a Native American tribe who resided in the area during the late 1700's. In this adventure our main goal was to see the Devil's Gate Dam, but also to hike one side of the Arroyo Seco. The Arroyo Seco was one of the Los Angeles River streams explored by Gaspar de Portola in 1770s. He named the stream Arroyo Seco, for of all the canyons he had seen; this stream  had the least water hence the name seco, which means dry in English. Although considered a dry steam, floods in 1914 and 1916 destroyed parts of Pasadena and Los Angeles which led engineers to build a dam to control future floods. 

Devil's Gate Dam, built in 1920 was named for the appearance of a horned devil face in a narrow canyon of the Arroyo Seco. Native Americans thought the area near Devil’s Gate to be haunted and they forbade their people from frequenting the spot. They also believe that this area would lead them to another dimension and people would disappear. Now some of the stories that I've have read are all very similar to one another but I am not sure how accurate they can be since I could not retrieve any newspaper stories just stories from other credible blogs. 

History of Devil's Gate Dam in Pasadena
Construction of Devil's Gate Dam 1920
More pictures of Devil's Dam Pasadena

According to research posted by Carol of Los Angeles Ghost Patrol:

“The Devil’s Gate’s notoriety continued to build through the mid-twentieth century with the disappearance of at least four children in the area. In August 1956, 13-year old Donald Lee Baker and 11-year old Brenda Howell went missing while riding their bicycles in the recreation area behind the dam. They were last seen alive on a Sunday evening but never returned home. Hundreds of volunteers searched the foothills of the San Gabriels, while Navy divers checked the reservoir. All that was found were their bicycles and Brenda’s jacket. Less than a year later in March 1957, 8-year old Tommy Bowman vanished while hiking with his family; he simply ran ahead, rounded a bend and disappeared. Again, search parties scoured the area, on foot and horseback as well as in helicopters. Three years later, 6-year old Bruce Kremen also vanished from the nearby YMCA camp. The boy was not feeling well and a camp counselor watched him walk back towards the camp, not more than 300 yards away. He never arrived.”

All these stories might be urban legends but I am sure there some true stories out there. Due to this current drought there is no water surrounding the dam, so you will not see any water if you go hike around this season. Some hikers have had problems and drowned due to floods so be careful when to go. The hike took us roughly a good 2 hours and 26 minutes but it involved a lot of stopping and creating our own trails to make it a little bit more difficult. We passed the Dam and continued through this tunnel which led to 210 freeway overpass, this hike and trail I believe continues on past Colorado Street Bridge (AKA: Suicide Bridge) I do strongly encourage any hikers to be careful with bugs and mosquitos.  Whether you’re into scary or haunted place this is a great hike that you can do without even following a specific trail.

Dam sign

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Historical Landmark #4 El Campo Santo Cementary

Address: 15415 E. Don Julian Rd., Industry CA

National Register of Historic Places #145
California Historical Landmark #874

No this is not a creppy cementary that I walked into, this place is actually located within the same address of the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum and belonged to the Workman-Temple family. This site is walking distance from the actual museum and anyone can go in there and check it out without a guided tour.  El Campo Santo is one of the oldest cemeteries in California, it contains the remains of the pioneering Workman and Temple families as well as Pío Pico, (the last governor of Alta  California), and John A. Rowland who was part owner of Rancho La Puente along with Workman. The cemetery was iron gated and had a Gothic chapel as describe by the Homestead Museum brochure.

The Campo Santo (which means Cemetery in English) was established in 1855, when William Workman's brother died as he fell of a cliff trying to retrieve some cattle in Northern California during the gold rush. Soon after other Workman family members were buried

When the Workman family lost it all they even lost the cemetery. In 1917 when William Workman's grandson Walter Temple regained ownership of that land  he was able to restore the cemetery.  In 1921 he built a mausoleum (building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or people) and moved the remains of his family inside.
He also transferred the remains of Pío Pico and his wife, Ygnacia Alvarado de Pico from a cemetery in Los Angeles to the mausoleum.

Old Chapel before it burned down in the 1900's
(Homestead Museum)

Actual present day view of the mausoleum

Graveyard a few gravestones are there. Walter Temple and John A. Rowland were the only names that I was able to recognize.

John A. Rowland's grave.

The plaque that states that the Workman Family Cemetery is a CA Historical Landmark

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Historical Landmark #3 Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum

Address: 15415 East Don Julian Road, City of Industry, CA 91745

I was interested in visiting this site after going over to the Matias Sanchez Adobe House in Montebello this past Monday. This site which is now a museum was home to William Workman. (The man who sold the Adobe house in Montebello ) This site has two structures  from the past the Workman Adobe House which was built in 1841 and the Casa Nueva which was built during the early 1920's.

Thinking that I did not need a guided tour around the outside of the house, I looked and tried to get in realizing all gates were all closed. I entered the museum information center where I was greeted by a volunteer who took me on a guided tour of the property. First, I was shown an introductory video which describes  much of the history of the Workman-Temple family. After watching this brief film by myself in this conference media room, I was then escorted to see the inside of the Workman Adobe House.

William Workman was born in England and immigrated to New Mexico as a boy. In New Mexico he worked with this man by the name of John A. Rowland (think Rowland Heights) and together they began several business ventures which included fur catching, and manufactured Whiskey.  Along with Rowland they decided to head out west to Alta California. After arriving to the San Gabriel Valley, Rowland  was given a land grant known as Rancho La Puente by then Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado.  According to my tour guide she was not sure why at first Workman was left out as owner but further historical research (you cannot say mean things about the owner) indicates that he was not given ownership because he was wanted in New Mexico for smuggling Texans  and for trying to assasinate their Governor, he was also not a Mexican naturalized citizen. After 4 years, then friend and Governor Pio Pico was able to change the land grant to include Workman. The adobe house at first consisted of 3 rooms and later expanded to ten rooms by 1856 and then remodeled with  brick rooms at the corners and on a new second floor, by 1870.

  Picture from 1974  /photos.378433p

Picture taken 7/23/14

So William Workman had a daughter by the name of Antonia Margarita who married Francis Pliny Fisk Temple. Workman granted parts of Rancho La Merced to them in 1850. (Montebello Area) Temple was also a very ambitious person like his father in law and began investing in railroads, real estate and started their own bank in Los Angeles. Their bank was the 2nd bank to open in Los Angeles and was the most popular bank for bad reasons. Workman and Temple were issuing loans to anyone which led to bankruptcy. This led to losing it all including the Workman Adobe House. William Workman out of depression committed suicide in 1876.

The Temple's resurfaced, Walter Temple the son of F.P.F Temple and grandson of William Temple began his rags to riches ambition. In 1915, while still living in what is now known as the Montebello Hills discovered oil  this once again gave him enough money to re-purchase the Workman House and surrounding area. He also created his own town called City of Temple (now known as Temple City) and named streets after people he knew. After purchasing the Workman Adobe House and the surrounding property he decided to make a new house right next to the adobe house and call it La Nueva Casa. This house was built in the late 20's.

Guess again!! Due to the Stock Market Crash they lost the house in the 1930's and was turned into a boys' school and then a small hospital until the land was given to the City of Industry for preservation in the 1960's

     I only took a few pictures during the tour of the house just because I was the only getting the tour so it felt weird stopping every minute to take a picture. The inside of the house has furniture from the 1920's and  some of the art work and decor was amazing! These guided tours are free and they are open from 1pm to 5pm! The outside of the museum has a lot of green grass and picnic tables and which lead you into another Historical Landmark: El Campo Santo Cemetery, which I will write about tomorrow! 

Websites for further Information:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Historical Landmark #2 Juan Matias Sanchez Adobe House in Montebello

Address: 946 N Adobe Ave, Montebello, CA 90640 

Initially I was going to visit the old site of Mission San Gabriel which is actually located right by the Montebello Mall and not in the City of San Gabriel  but I could not find parking around the location as it was sweeping day for that neighborhood. I continued on Lincoln Ave until I saw some signs that pointed to the Sanchez Adobe House. Its a really quiet neighborhood but I was able to explore the house by myself without anyone bothering. This place is currently an actual museum owned by the Montebello Historical Society. I would want to visit this place during the weekend as they give you an inside tour of the house.

Weird Oddity: As I was taking pictures of this place I felt as if someone was watching me but did not really see anyone. After being at the place for about a good ten minutes I decided to leave. I drove a few feet and my car turned off. I turned on the car once  and continued driving, no check engine light went on and I had not had any problems with my car. Weird or just straight out coincidence. 

     The story of this historical site begins in  1844 when  Casilda Soto de Lobo  ( widow of a soldier who served at the   Mission San Gabriel) was given a Mexican Land Grant known as Rancho La Merced  by then Mexican Governor of Alta California Manuel Micheltorena. 

In 1850 after California is ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, facing financial difficulty, Dona Casilda Soto de Lobo got out a loan for $1,225 from William Workman. She agreed to sell her property to Workman for $2,500 if she did not have the money. Sure enough Workman obtained the deed to Rancho La Merced after she failed to pay. 

In 1852 for just one dollar Workman  gave his long time friend Juan Matias Sanchez a piece of land. By accepting the piece of land Sanchez moved in to the Adobe house that once belong to Dona Casilda Soto de Lobo. 

In  the 1870's after financial woes and bank closings, Workman and Sanchez lost all of their land in what was once known as Rancho La Merced. Sanchez lost all his land California law allowed him to keep 200 acres (including the adobe) until this death.

After Sanchez death in 1885 the land which included the adobe house was maintained by the Sanchez family up until 1896 when  E.J. Baldwin filed a lawsuit against the Sanchez family for the remaining 200 acres for helping the Sanchez family pay all of the property taxes.  Baldwin won the lawsuit therefore became the owner of the land but allowed the Sanchez family to live here up until he died in 1909. 

After the Sanchez family were thrown out this land, the  Baldwin Estate sold the land to a group of oil investors. In 1915 William Benjamin Scott (oil investor)  obtained some surrounding  land and the adobe house. The adobe house remained through generations of the Scott family until 1972, when Josephine Scott Crocker granted the City of Montebello as owners in order to recognize it as a historical site

                              (Sanchez Adobe House in the 1920 Courtesy of the City of Montebello) 

 Pictures were taken July 21, 2014

Further Research:


Friday, July 11, 2014

Historical Landmark #1 East Los Angeles Train Station

Location: 5480 Ferguson Avenue, Commerce CA 90040

 *Best time to get a closer look at the site is during the week when the United Healthcare Workers building is open*

I've lived in Commerce since 96 and I always wonder why there was a old building by the Atlantic/ 5 freeway bridge. (I was only a child) It was until I discovered that it was an E.L.A train station. The station was opened on May 15, 1929 by the Union Pacific Railroad and ceased operation up until 1971.

The building is in real bad condition, but the remains paint a vivid picture of the past. The building was designated as a  Cultural/Historic Landmark of the City of Commerce in 1990, however not much has been done to preserve the building from vandalism other than chain linked fence.

 East LA Train Station up and running in 1950. (Courtesy of City of Commerce Public Library)

East Los Angeles Train Station (1970-1980) Courtesy of City of Commerce Public Library

The East Los Angeles sign falling apart. (I took this picture July 11, 2014)

Side View of the train station. Picture taken July 11, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hiking Adventure #2 Murphy Ranch

I have been to this site twice, once in November of 2013 and much recently the last week of June 2014. During the most recent trip to Murphy Ranch all of the ruins were surrounded by chain linked fences, but does not make it impossible to get in to, as they all have an easy access. The history behind this compound is really interesting and worth checking out. Some information that I accumulated on this through the internet  was that it was a old Nazi campground during the early 40's. A couple taking the alias of the Murphy's thought that they should create a ranch with the belief that the Nazi government was  going to take control over Europe and eventually bring the ideology to the United States. This establishment was raided by the U.S government right after Pearl Harbor and it is said that they found radios that were directly sending information to the Germans, one of the members was charged with espionage.

This YouTube video gives more historical details.

Murphy's Ranch
Sullivan Fire Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90272
Follow this road up through the gates that lead to Rustic Canyon,  up until you encounter the really old creepy gate! Its a good walk down the road!

Pictures from Hike November 2013

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hiking Adventure #1 Turnbull Canyon

Address: Turnbull Canyon Rd Whittier, CA 90601

Turnbull Canyon, a hilly area between the suburbs of Whittier and Hacienda Heights, is well known for its urban legends.  Rumors of Satanic rituals, KKK meetings are well documented in other blogs such as

Other well known factual stories include murders and an airplane crash that killed 26 passengers in 1952.

Through out the day, these hills serve as a hiking trail to many SoCal residents.  This trail connects with two other trails: Hellsman Trail and Hacienda Heights Trail. (Previously done in the summer of 2013) In order to hike Turnbull Canyon you must park around Turnbull Canyon Road, and walk up towards the entrance. Everyone is pretty much hiking towards the same direction, so you can't get lost -- to the graffiti water tower. Overall it’s a 3.2mile loop with steady yet heavy elevation gain of 325 feet. As you reach to very top (water tower) you can see Rose Hills Cemetery and Downtown Los Angeles.