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The secluded hillsides and canyons of Whiting Woods were once home to savory activities.
Pasadena Mountain Club
The Pasadena Mountain Club originally occupied the area we now know as Whiting Woods.
The Club The Club consisted of a few stockholders and members who paid 25 to 50 cents for a membership card, which prevented club owners from being arrested for selling liquor to members. The Club consisted of a small club house and ten small one-room cabins used for bedrooms, which they rented out for “rendezvous” purposes. Around 1915 the Club was closed by the District Attorney under the Red-Light Abatement Act.
Farmer John from China
In the 1920's an ambitious farmer, known only as John who came from China, owned 260 acres in the canyon. John pretended to grow vegetables for a living, but he was actually selling opium. Perry Whiting descibed John as "one of the best neighbors I ever had... he attended strictly to his own business. He and I were great friends, and often had long chats." John eventually decided to return to China John sold Whiting his property in 1921.
Perry Whiting, for whom the Whiting Woods development was named, was born in Michigan on April 21, 1868. As an adult, he co-owned the Whiting-Mead Company and lived on Honolulu Avenue, in La Crescenta, California.
In 1915, Mr. Whiting learned his company “had a lien on the Pasadena Mountain Club” for $2,500. He also learned the property was situated in a canyon in the Verdugo Mountains and consisted of “44 acres of mountain land all except about 10 acres of which was too steep for any practical use.” Whiting bought the property from his company for about $7000 and remodeled the clubhouse into a home.
About six months after moving into his remodeled home Whiting was reading the Sunday morning Los Angeles Times and found an advertisement “For Sale, 415 acres in the Verdugo Hills." He learned the property was adjacent to his and began speaking with the Wisconsin landowner, but he wasn't able to strike a deal. Several months went by when Whiting learned another buyer was close to making a deal on the land. This buyer planned to subdivide the land and re-sell it for chicken ranching. Not wanting chicken ranches in his backyard, Whiting and his wife made an immediate trip to Wisconsin, to speak personally with the land owner. In 1916 they struck a deal and purchased the land for $14,000 (about $34 per acre).
In 1921, we mentioned the original club house burned down to its foundation. Soon after, John from China (referenced earlier) decided to sell his land and return to China. He sold his 260 acres to Whiting, which brought Whitings holding s to 670 acres. Whiting's investment of about $80,000, grew to about $670,000, based on an appraisal three years later. Whiting wanted to establish a ranch on the combined properties, and in 1926 built a new adobe home on the foundation of the original, but now burned-down club house.
El Rancho Verdugo
We don't know exactly when the Whiting's sold their property, but we do know Whiting home history includes use as a sanitarium, the “El Rancho Verdugo,”which we know operated in 1936. Advertised as the "Ideal place for "Convalescents, Elderly and Chronic Cases" the facility boasted about its "sunny rooms, sun baths, graduate registered nurses, dietitian and 24 hour service.
Between 1933 and 1942 there were other uses for the property as well...
Oct. 13, 1933 - JINX WILL BE DEFIED AT DANCE, "Friday the 13th Has No Terror for Trojans"
A costume party and rustic event put on by students of the College of Commerce, University of Southern California., More than 600 persons are expected to attend the affair, which will be held at Whiting’s ranch in the Verdugo Hills.
Nov. 13, 1934 - ‘TIS HEY-HAY TIME WITH RURAL RHYTHM, Hey! Hay! ‘Tis harvest time or will be when the University of Southern California boys and girls don their rural raiment for the College of Commerce annual barn dance next Friday evening. At Whiting’s Ranch near La Canada the Trojans will bring in the crop.
Nov. 10, 1934 - Hospital Junior Guild Will Give Novel Aid Dance
The rafters will be ringing at Whiting’s Ranch in Montrose when the thirty active members of St. Luke’s Hospital Junior Guild give their annual “Cord and Cotton” barn dance.
Aug 31, 1936 - Hungarians See Native Dances at Picnic
1500 Hungarians of Los Angeles witnessed a play and saw native dances today at the second annual picnic of the civic League in Whiting Woods.
Sept 6, 1936 - SYRIANS UNITE FOR PICTURESQUE CEREMONIES
A two-day celebration of Mahrajan, or fiesta of the Syrians, began today at Whiting Woods. Trailers and cars brought crowds from Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oregon.
1937 to 1942 - Many regular events sponsored by USC, UCLA and Occidental College social groups.
As far as we can tell, from articles in The Ledger newspaper, development of the Whiting Woods began in 1948. Our Whiting Woods Property Owners (WWPO) has records of neighborhood representation dating back to 1960.
Today, Whiting Woods is a peaceful enclave that consists of 170 homes occupied by about 375 residents. The neighborhood has only one major entrance and exit on Whiting Woods Road. "The Woods" other major streets are El Lado Drive and Mesa Lila Road. The neighborhood still includes an abundance of live oak and sycamore trees (both of which are protected by the City of Glendale) and wildlife, such as deer, rabbits, coyotes, snakes, bobcats, bears, etc. Neighborhood attractions include hiking trails at the top of Whiting Woods and Mesa Lila roads and a seasonal stream that runs along Whiting Woods Road. Whiting Woods is truly a treasured place to live in the Los Angeles Basin.
Whiting Woods Property Owner's Inc. is one of the oldest continuously operating HOA's in the City of Glendale. We've been involved in many causes that have impacted and protected the footprint and feel of our community.
1960 & 70's
We organized and fought to prevent a proposed housing development above Whiting Woods. This development would have added hundreds of homes and required a second bridge be built over the Verdugo Wash, connecting Mesa Lila with Honolulu Avenue.
In order to stop the creation of a new development, the developer needed to be compensated. The WWPO raised funds from residents, which reached a sizable sum. The City of Glendale learned of the neighborhood’s efforts and also contributed significantly. Ultimately, an agreement was reached, a purchase was made, and the intended development property was donated to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for its permanent protection and recreational use.
1970's & 1980's
In a desire to reduce maintenance for the strip of land between El Lado Drive and the Verdugo Wash, LA County wanted to permanently clear the vegetation and extend fencing to contain the space. WWPO offered a less invasive alternative and negotiated an agreement with the L.A. County Flood Control District, the City of Glendale and affected Whiting Woods’ residents. The agreement included the creation of a green belt and a privacy barrier to help block out the wash for residents, and residents agreed to maintain and preserve the plantings in the space. As part of the agreement, Glendale also installed irrigation lines and provided water.
Additionally, in 1984, a WWPO Board member who worked for ARCO secured several extra trees from ARCO’s 1984 Los Angeles Olympic beautification and community tree-planting campaign. The extra trees were planted along El Lado drive.
1990's & 2000's
A large 238 acre development called Oakmont View V was being considered. Situated just east of Whiting Woods, in the Verdugo mountains, a development of this size would have permanently changed the look of our mountains and added a great deal of new traffic. The WWPO joined with other groups in hopes of mitigating the impact to Whiting Woods. After several years of negotiations, the developers agreed to sell their property, which was again donated to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and known as the “Verdugo Mountains Open Space Preserve.”
A 27-home development was planned for Deerpass Road off of Mesa Lila Road, which would have required subdivision, forever changing the hillsides on the eastern edge of Whiting Woods. The WWPO worked with the developer and the City of Glendale to come up with a compromise which ultimately reduced the scope to just two new homes. The remainder of the property is held by the city for recreational use. .