Architectural Styles | Victorian

Example of a Victorian Home StyleVictorian architecture is that architecture which was popular during the 1837-1901 reign of England's Queen Victoria. Victorian architecture borrowed from popular European styles of architecture which came before it, as well as incorporating art forms which were popular during the sixty-four years of Queen Victoria's reign.

The Victorian houses in Monrovia are almost all in the Queen Anne style which was popular from 1880-1910. The Monrovian Victorians have the steeply-pitched, irregularly-shaped roofs, the patterned shingles, the front-facing gables, cutaway bay windows, and the wrap-around porches most commonly found in a Queen Anne. Sometimes the Queen Anne has a tower, and when it does, that tower is most likely situated at either corner of the front of the house. A few Monrovia Queen Anne-style houses have incised Eastlake detailing and others have Romanesque features of rounded towers with conical roofs, and arches over windows, entry ways, and porch supports.

The Monrovia Neoclassical is symmetrical with center-placed entry, round or rectangular columns supporting a full-height, but not full-width porch, and balanced windows.

Another Monrovia Victorian-style house is the Shingle, which has shingling on the exterior walls from the ground to the roof. The Shingle-style may also have stonework on the exterior wall of the ground floor and shingling from the second story to the roof.

Sprinkled through Monrovia are houses which might be considered "Folk Victorian."  In their book, Field Guide to American Houses, (see Reference List on the previous screen), Virginia and Lee McAlestar use this term to describe small, one or two-story houses which imitate their more opulent Victorian sisters in regard to exterior ornamentation.

113 N. Primrose Avenue

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ca 1895. Dr. Adams stands on his front porch. At this time, the house faced Foothill Blvd.

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The view of house from the west showing the side porch. The two women in the picture could be Mrs. Adams and one of her daughters.

This picture shows the house today from the same angle. The side porch has been removed and the windows replaced with aluminum framed ones. The decorative detail of the porch has also been removed and the elevation of the house greatly diminished by the removal of the original skirting.

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This view of the house shows the present south side and the multiple entrances for the multiple families living there as well as the addition on the back of the house.

Though the fish scale remains, the original gable ornament has disappeared.

Known Details

Block No: D

Lot No: 4 & 5

Landmarked? No

Construction Year: 1887

Architectural Style: Victorian

Style Detail: With Queen Anne detailing

Contractor: Unknown

Architect: Unknown

Style Altered? No

Location Changed? Yes

Original Location: Chestnut Avenue

Owner(s): Charles Taylor Stewart, Russell D. Adams

Demolished? No

Subdivision: Monroe Addition to Monrovia Tract

Some houses and properties have fairly complicated stories to tell, and this is surely one those houses because the answer to the question "Who was the original owner" can't be answered easily.

The present location of this property is in the Monroe Addition, Block D, the south 150 feet of the east 57 feet of Lots 4 & 5, so the original owner of the property was William N. Monroe.  He sold the property in 1888 to John H. Bartle, a banker, and John T. Stewart, a doctor, both early Monrovians involved in civic and business affairs.  The tax description of what they bought reads this way:  Part of Lots 4&5 beginning at the NE corner of Lot 5 thence N 150 ft. thence W 57  thence S 150 ft thence E 57 ft to place of beginning.

Stewart and Bartle had bought other property in partnership before, but Stewart meant this property for a house for him, his wife, and son.  Rather than building a house from scratch on the property, he purchased a house that had been owned by and probably built for R.M. Mullally.

Mullally, originally from Ohio, had left Los Angeles to try citrus ranching in Duarte.  Apparently it didn't suit him and he moved to what the Monrovia Planet  (19 Feb 1887) referred to as an "attractive" house on Chestnut Avenue.  Though the Mullallys owned other property in Monrovia, this is most likely the house that Dr. Stewart purchased in 1890 and moved to the corner of N. Primrose and W. White Oak (now W. Foothill Blvd.)

When the house was moved, the front of it was placed so that it faced south with a lovely view of the sloping San Gabriel Valley.  The 1908-1909 Monrovia directory gives the address as 201 W. White Oak (now W. Foothill Blvd).  Dr. Stewart fixed up the house and added a barn to the property, but he didn’t live there long.  He moved his medical practice to Los Angeles and sold the house to another doctor, Russell D. Adams in 1893.

Like William Monroe, John Bartle, and John Stewart, Dr. Adams was considered a pioneer of Monrovia, and he was extremely active in Monrovia civic affairs until his death in 1917.  So four of the five men associated with this house were extremely important in the early history of Monrovia which makes what has happened to the house even more regrettable.

The house was a common style found in Monrovia known as a "Folk Victorian", a miniature version of the more imposing two-story Victorians, this one with Queen Anne detailing.  The porch brackets are delicate and lacy, the corner brackets on either side of the bay window are detailed, and of course there is the fish scale on the front-facing gable.  The bay windows and the large window on the other side of the door would have had great views of the town and the rest of the San Gabriel Valley.  The very tall wood skirting around the perimeter of the house is an indication that the house may have had a basement at this time.  This WAS a real gem.

The damage to the house didn't start right away.  After Adams' death in 1917, his two daughters continued living in the house until the early 1920s when the house was sold to the Lindstrand family.

The 1924 directory shows Emil Lindstrand, who worked or owned the Willard Service Station at 123 S. Myrtle, as living at the 201 W. White Oak Avenue address, so at that time, the house still faced south.    The 1927-28 directory gives Mr. Lindstrand's residence address as 115 N. Primrose.  The subsequent addresses list 113 N. Primrose as the address.  It was most likely at this time that the wooden skirting was removed, and the house placed on a raised concrete foundation, lowering the house's elevation.  Mr. Lindstrand lived in the house for many years with his wife Betty and daughter Leona.

Unfortunately, about 70 years ago the owner of the sliced it up for multiple families to live in, and for many years now, the house has been rental property.  In spite of the house's importance to Monrovia's history, it cannot be landmarked unless much restoration is performed on the exterior.  As can be seen from the original picture and the way the house looks today, much of the original exterior architecture has been removed and/or replaced with inappropriate materials.  This is a real loss of Monrovia's heritage.

So who was the original owner??  Monroe?  R.M. Mullaly?  Bartle and Stewart? Dr. Adams??  Even though Mullally built the house, he didn't live in it long and neither did the second owner, Dr. Stewart.  So I'm going with the man with whom the house has been associated the longest, the man who served on the first Monrovia school board as well as tending to the medical needs of the community for twenty-four years, Dr. Russell Adams.

123 E. Lime Avenue

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Here is a map view

Additional block detail

Known Details

Block No: B

Lot No: 18

Landmarked? No

Construction Year: 1888

Architectural Style: Victorian

Contractor: Venderink

Architect: Unknown

Style Altered? No

Location Changed? Yes

Original Location: Block G, Lot 13 South Myrtle Ave.

Owner(s): Berend Venderink, Joseph Francis Sartori, Samuel Emerson Salsbury, Charles Eugene Slosson

Demolished? Yes

Subdivision: Town of Monrovia

This property had a rough beginning, bouncing around from owner to owner as the value of property in Southern California plummeted after the land boom of 1888.  It is unknown who owned Lot 18 from 1888 until 1891.  Lots were changing hands quickly as speculators came to communities like Monrovia buying property to flip quickly for a profit.  Many times buyers flipped properties by bills of sale because they hadn’t had time to record the ownership with the County.  The land boom was over quickly, and buyers went broke when they couldn’t unload their property, so rather than pay taxes on property that had dropped over 37 percent, many buyers just walked away.  By 1890, Lot 18's assessed valued had dropped from $600 to $200.

The tax record for 1891 gives Joseph Sartori, a successful banker, as the owner.  In 1891, the property’s value had dropped to $125.  Sartori sold the property to Charles E. Slosson, who was in real estate, and held on to it until 1903.  By then, the property value had been valued at $75 for the last six of the eleven years he owned it, so he must have gotten tired of waiting for property values in Monrovia to go up.  Subsequent owners were in and out quickly: G.H. Smith owned it for one year, selling to it to C.F. Monroe who appears to have only owned it for year.  However, it is this year, 1905, that the tax records record show an improvement on the property.  The value of the improvement is $600, indicating more than just a barn.  It may have been at this time that the structure, which had been moved from another location, first appeared.According to Steve Baker, Monrovia City Historian, the house that appeared on Lot 18 in 1905 had actually been moved from Block G, Lot 13, on South Myrtle.  At that location, is was a combination business and residence of the Venderink family.  The name of the business was the Venderink Improvement Company, and it was involved in construction work.  The Sanborn map and the illustration from the periodical The Wasp indicate that the structure was in existence at least by 1887. In 1906, Monroe sells the property to Mary Bear, and the value of the structure goes up to $700.  She may have gotten into a little financial trouble because the following year, there is a different owner, G.W. Morgan.  Mary Bear owns it again the next year.    The 1908-1909 Resident and Business Directory of Monrovia lists three women, Mary, Julia, and Alice Bear, as living at the address.  I’ve been able to find no information about them.  In 1910, Mary Bear sells the property to F.W. Rogers.  Mr. Rogers seems to have used the property as a rental.  In the 1911, the Monrovia Resident and Business Directory shows that Thomas T. Davis, employment not stated, lived in the house with his two children: Charles Franklin and Helen J., both clerks at the post office.  They only lived here for a short time.  In the 1913-1914 directory, the Davis family, minus Thomas, is living at 134 N. Myrtle Ave.F.W. Rogers sells the property the next year to S. Emerson Salisbury, a dentist..  The Salisburys had been living at 337 N. Mayflower, and his dental practice was at 527½ S. Myrtle Avenue (1908 Monrovia Directory).  He and his family moved to 123 E. Lime Avenue by 1913, but he moved his business to the American National Bank Building at the corner of South Myrtle and Lime Avenues. By 1924, Dr. Salisbury had moved his practice into his home.  This was not unusual, and several doctors in Monrovia had their medical offices in their homes as it was a great way to cut overhead.  The Salisburys lived on in the house until at least 1945 when Fanny Salisbury died.  It is unknown at this time exactly when Dr. Salisbury died, but it was probably in the early 1930s.The actual address of the dwelling first appears on this property as 123 E. Lime Avenue on the Sanborn map of 1907.  The details from the Sanborn maps show that the footprint of the main house is exactly the same from 1888 to 1907.  In 1897, a porch was added to the back of the house.  Sometime between 1897 and 1906, the structure was moved to East Lime and the porch was enclosed.  Also in 1907, a front porch which wraps around the east side of the house can be seen.  The 1913 Sanborn map shows a shed at the back of the property, which has been replaced by a small auto garage by 1923. The illustration shows the structure at its South Myrtle address around 1888.  It has the typical Victorian front-facing gable design of the period.  What can’t be seen in the illustration but is shown on the 1907 Sanborn map is that the bay window on the south side of the house is replicated on the north.  An  application to alter, repair, or demolish was filed by the California Water & Telephone Co., located at 115 E. Lime,  on April 2, 1952.  The application requests permission to demolish a residence and a detached garage at 123 E. Lime Avenue.  This house, along with others on Block B, was then demolished to build the present utility company and adjacent parking lot

215 E. Lime Avenue

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2003

Known Details

Block No: A

Lot No: 16

Landmarked? No

Construction Year: 1886

Architectural Style: Victorian

Contractor: John C. Anderson

Architect: Unknown

Style Altered? No

Location Changed? No

Owner(s): John C. Anderson

Demolished? No

Subdivision: Town of Monrovia

John C. Anderson purchased three lots, 16-19 in Block A of the Town of Monrovia Subdivision from the Monrovia Land and Water Company in 1888.  At this time, these lots on Lime Avenue were the northern boundary of the Town of Monrovia.  

Anderson, a contractor, built this six-room house for his wife and sons.  One of the sons, George, spent almost his entire life of 87 years in the house, and his mother stayed on in the house,  after her husband died, until she died.  George's brother and sister-in-law lived in the house several years until around 1924 they moved to 343 N. Ivy Avenue.

The California Water and Telephone Company attempted to acquire the property for use as a parking lot during the 1960's, but George Anderson would not sell.  

On George Anderson's death in 1974, the property was left to a charitable trust.  When the old family home could not be sold due to many years of deferred maintenance, funds were given by the trust to the Friends of the Monrovia Library to purchase the home and restore it as a project in connection with the celebration of our country's bicentennial.  After the restoration was completed under the leadership of the late Brice Tulloss, title to the house was given to the newly organized Monrovia Historical Society.  The house today is furnished as it would have appeared when the Andersons lived in it.

215 E. Lime is a Queen Anne style house with some Stick-Eastlake detailing.  The asymmetrical plan, decorative scroll work, and hip roof with front facing gable are Queen Anne elements, while the frieze of vertical siding and square chamfered porch posts are Stick-Eastlake characteristics.  The stairs to the porch are flanked by solid wooden balustrades, and the original scroll work porch railing has been replaced by one of simple square posts.  The house was enlarged around the turn of the last century by the addition of a bathroom, screen porch, and bedroom to the rear of the house.

The interior of the house has twelve foot ceilings in each of the original rooms and a broad central hallway.  The parlor, furnished with an Eastlake parlor suite, is connected to the dining room by massive pocket doors. An interesting feature of the dining room is the service window into the pantry.  The only items of original furniture in the house are in the dining room:  a settee with stick-and-ball design and two side chairs which were returned by the Moore sisters and have been refurbished.  The kitchen is dominated by a wood burning range.  The front bedroom has been turned into an office, while the middle bedroom features a bedroom site of birds-eye maple.  The rear bedroom, furnished as a children's room, has a four poster bed with canopy.

A portion of the original barn remains at the rear of the property, while two oak trees, planted long ago by John Anderson to support a hammock, now provide ample shade for the rear yard.

225-225 1/2 Lime Ave.

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This is a detail from the 1913 Sanborn map showing the small house at 225 E. Lime Avenue

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This map shows the original structure at 225 and the second rental structure with an address of 225 1/2 toward the back of the property.

Lot 19, formerly 225 and 225 1/2 as it looks today.

Known Details

Block No: A

Lot No: 19

Landmarked? No

Construction Year: 1888

Architectural Style: Victorian

Contractor: Unknown

Architect: Unknown

Style Altered? No

Location Changed? No

Owner(s): Levi Jackson Newlan

Demolished? Yes

Subdivision: Town of Monrovia

Levi Jackson Newlan owned this property from 1888 until 1907.  He built a house, valued at $300 on the property in 1888 and lived in it with his two sons.

The Sanborn maps show the house as being a small structure with a front porch and a bay window facing east.  Given the period of time in which it was built and the other houses built at the same time which still stand, it is likely that the house was a wood frame structure with modest Victorian architectural features.  There are no permits for the house and the Sanborn maps show little change in the house.

Levi and his son Charles A. were blacksmiths, and his other son, Eugene Frank,  was a harness maker.  According to records, Eugene Frank did not stay in Monrovia very long, so the house was occupied by just the two others until Levi Jackson Newlan's death in 1906.  After 1907, his Charles sold the property to B.A.P. Eaton, a retiree, who only owned his for two years, selling it to David S. West in 1910.

David West lived less than a block away at 127 E. Lime Avenue, and he rented out his new property over the years to many people.  Sometime after 1927, an additional dwelling was built on the lot with the address of 225 1/2.  Since there are no permits, it is difficult to determine exactly when it went up.  However, there is a 1939 Monrovia directory entry for someone living at 225 1/2 E. Lime Avenue, so the second dwelling went up sometime between 1928 and 1939.

There is no demolition permit for this property, but it was probably razed in the late 1950s or early 1960s when the houses on Lots 17-20 were torn down for a parking lot to serve the utility company in the next block.

235 E. Lime Avenue

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Known Details

Block No: A

Lot No: 21

Landmarked? No

Construction Year: 1886

Architectural Style: Victorian

Contractor: Uknown

Architect: Unknown

Style Altered? No

Location Changed? No

Owner(s): J. C. Rowly, William Aaron Crandall

Demolished? No

Subdivision: Town of Monrovia

An article in the Monrovia Messenger dated February 21, 1889, states that J.C. Rowley sold his house “...at the corner of Ivy and Lemon to W.A. Crandall the proprietor of the new mercantile establishment on Myrtle.  The place is a pretty one.”  This seems to be a mistake as Rowley didn't own any property at the corner of Ivy and Lemon, but he was the first owner of Lot 21 with (according to the 1888 tax records) an improvement valued at $300. 

 As can be seen the picture, the house still retains much of the exterior Victorian architectural elements.  The second front door that faces east does not appear on any of the Sanborn maps, so it must have been added later when the house was carved up as a duplex.  However, Steve Baker, historian for the City of Monrovia, states that there have been other houses from that era with two front doors.  Fortunately, the second door matches the original Victorian front door.  The front-facing gable with the small porch is similar to many other small Victorian houses from this period, including the Victorian cottage down the street at 215 E. Lime.

A plumbing permit dated 1912 gives the address as 235, and the owner as Annie Crandall.  The 1913  Sanborn map shows a long narrow dwelling with a porch.  This is the same footprint that the house still has today.

An additional structure, marked as a stable, is at the back of the property by the alley, and it straddles Lot 21 and Lot 22.  A small, additional dwelling, with an address of 239,  appears in the northeast  corner of what is Lot 22.  The stable is larger than most, probably because of Crandall had a buggy, horse and cow, according to the 1889 tax record.  The second dwelling was used a rental for Annie Crandall's nephew, Warren H. Denslow.

By 1927, the stable has been converted into a plumbing shop with an address of 235 1/2.  This was the shop of Warren Denslow, a nephew of Annie Crandall.  After her husband died, Annie Crandall continued living in the house at 235, and her nephew had bought the house next on Lot 22, property which the Crandall's had previously owned.

For information on the rental and Denslow's house, please see Town of Monrovia Subdivision, Block A, Lot 22.

There is an undated permit for a residence valued at $300.  The lot is described as being 50' x 160', but the building is only 20'x22'.  Its location is given as near the rear of the lot.  Since a small structure, first as a stable and then as accessory building, is shown at the back of the lot in 1907, it may be that it was torn down to be replaced by a dwelling on the same spot.

The undated permit has the name of Warren Denslow, nephew of Annie E. Crandall,  as the owner, living at 239 E. Lime Ave.  In 1953, Denslow took out a plumbing permit for 233 1/2, and he was still living at 239 E. Lime at that time.  Previously from 1904 to 1914, Denslow had been living at the address of 235 E. Lime with his aunt and his wife.

By 1927, the original dwelling has been divided into two dwellings, a duplex.  The stable at the back of the lot is shown as an accessory building, perhaps a garage.  Another dwelling, also a duplex which parallels the original dwelling, has been built with an address of 237 and 239.  Directly behind this duplex and at the back of the lot, up against the alley, is another building identified as a dwelling but also having the addresses as the  Lime-facing duplex.

The picture shows the parking lot, looking east toward Lot 16 whose house managed to escape the fate of the house on Lots 17-21. 

The Monrovia Potential Historic Landmark Survey, performed by the Monrovia Old House Preservation Group in 1996, made the following observations from the curb about the house at 235 E. Lime Avenue.

  • Visually from the curb, an excellent example of Victorian architecture.
  • Visually from the curb, a very good example of a particular material or method of construction.
  • Visually from the curb, good integrity and alterations (the units added to the rear).
  • Visually from the curb, an architectural contributor to the continuity and character of the street.

255 N. Mayflower Avenue

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1900

Known Details

Block No: 1

Lot No: 5

Landmarked? Yes

Construction Year: 1887

Architectural Style: Victorian

Contractor: Unknown

Architect: Joseph Cather & Samuel Newsom

Style Altered? No

Location Changed? No

Owner(s): General W. A. Pile

Demolished? No

Subdivision: Unknown

This beautiful home, known as "Idlewyld," is Monrovia Historical Landmark No. 4.

Over the years, The previous owners, Roger and Jeanie Martinsen, and the present owners have opened this house to the public for the annual Monrovia Old House Preservation Group's Mothers Day Old Home Tour.  MOHPG is sincerely greatfull for their generosity.

The following is a description of Idlewild, taken from a newspaper account of the day. At the end of the article is a picture showing how Idlewild looks today.

Securing the services of J.C. Newsom, of Los Angeles, as architect, the plans were prepared and the residence commenced.  A very substantial foundation was built of cut granite, coarse ashler, 18 inches thick.  The building is two stories high and 42 by 67 feet in size.  The ceiling of the first floor is 12.2 feet, and the second 11 feet.  Upon entering the well-kept grounds a person is at once struck with the architecture of the building, which reflects credit upon the architect.  

The building was not let by contract, but was constructed under the direct supervision of General Pile, ably assisted by his wife.  It is very tastefully painted.  The body color of the first story is a light chocolate brown, trimmed with a dark color of the same.  The upper story is in cream trimming, yellowish brown, lined with English vermilion red.  All colors blend very nicely.  There are five verandas, from one of which a sunbath can be obtained at any time of the day.  

The building faces the east. Upon entering the front door you are ushered into a hallway, or reception room, 13 by 20 feet, leading upward from which is the stairway.  This room is wainscoted four feet high with curly redwood, finished up in the best possible manner, and presenting a beautiful appearance.  No paint is used, but the woodwork finished up in the natural state, and it produces a beautiful effect.  The paper on the walls is a plain tint of gray ingrain, velour velvet frieze, with iridescent stiling and velour border.  The hall window looking on the front porch is very artistic.  

It was selected by the General and manufactured for him by Rafael & Slessinger, of Los Angles.  The figures are geometric and the whole window contains over one thousand pieces of glass, the colors of which are very rich.  It also contains fifty cut jewels. The General has for years had a kind of hobby in this direction, and when in England he admired nothing more than the windows of the cathedrals and other buildings.  The window is indeed something to be proud of.  It should produce a magnificent effect at night, when the gas is lighted.

On the east side of the building are situated the parlors and dining room.  The front and back parlors are divided by a spindle work arch, a splendid piece of workmanship.  There are two octagon windows; looking east and south, the glass in which are heavy French plate.  The rooms are 25 by 35 feet.  There is a 7-foot veranda on the south side, overlooking the orange orchard and commanding a good view of the valley. The walls of the parlors are light buff ingrain paper, with picture moulding and a deep frieze, ceiling stile, border and corner pieces, gilt and iridescent frescoed centerpieces.  

The front parlor mantle is made of California onyx and made in San Francisco.  It is an exceptionally fine piece of workmanship, and is considered by the General to be the finest thing in the house.  There are at least twelve different shades of color in the mantle, and it is certainly magnificent.  It is to be ornamented by a center bronze piece statue of Giotto.  The back parlor mantle is of solid mahogany, with a French plate glass mirror.  Sliding doors divide the reception room from the parlors, and if so desired the three can be converted into one room.  The dining room is 15 by 25 feet, wainscoted five fee 

261 N. Canyon Blvd.

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This picture was taken in 2010, before the death of William Coleman who had lived here for forty years.

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This view shows the north part of the front porch.

A detail showing the pediments and their design.

Known Details

Block No:

Lot No: 9 & 16

Landmarked? No

Construction Year: 1896

Architectural Style: Victorian

Style Detail: Specifically, this one-story house with Queen Anne and classical details is known as a Folk Victorian

Contractor: Unknown

Architect: Unknown

Style Altered? No

Location Changed? No

Owner(s): Chester P. Dorland

Demolished? No

Subdivision: Dorland's Tract

This house is extremely significant because it is only one of four houses built in the 1890s that still exist north of Foothill Blvd.  Though the inside vintage features are pretty much gone, the exterior Victorian architectural features still remain in tact...for now.  The house appears on the City of Monrovia's list of structures that have the potential to be land marked, and this status offers it some small protection against being radically altered or torn down.  However, land mark status would offer it much protection, but the heirs of the property declined to land mark the house.  The house has recently been purchased, so its fate is very uncertain.

The house is a one-story, Folk Victorian (Carol Rifkind refers to this style as “Vernacular Victorian”) with Classical Revival details and redwood siding.  The roof is a ridged hip roof, that is a hipped roof on a rectangular house.  The east facing facade is approximately 31 feet wide, and asymmetrical with the front porch starting at the front door and going north, but stopping three feet short of the northern corner of the house (see photo 2).

The overall footprint is that of a T, with the top of the T being across the back of the house that faces west.  The focal points (see photo 3)for this house are the porch and dormer pediments.  The pediment on the porch roof is decorated with the design of two crossed tree branches overlain with a book, a quill pen, and the lamp of learning.  There is a pedimented roof dormer that replicates the lines of the porch pediment, including the decoration.  Below the dormer pediment are three windows, the larger center sash has the same geometric panes of glass as the front windows.  The narrow sashes on either side have plain glass.   The top sash has geometric panes of glass that are repeated in the bay windows, as well as the roof dormer.

Tax records show the house was originally valued at $1400.

The original owner, Chester P. Dorland, lived in the house only until around 1912.  There is a permit in his name taken out on the property to connect it to the sewer in 1913, but according to John, author of Monrovia History, there was a major upheaval in Monrovia city government in 1911 at the time Dorland was mayor.  He went on a trip to Europe, and his post was declared vacant, so the house was empty for a few years.  Local and Los Angeles County tax records are conflicting, showing Dorland and two women, Maria Victoria and Mabel C. Guest owning the property in 1914-1915, E.C. Austin in 1915-1916, Dorland owning it again in 1916, and the Guests owning it from 1917-1919.  After that, ownership of the house stabilized with Ada Marie Madden owning for the next twenty-eight years.

Through the 1950s, the house was owned by Lambert F. & Marie Craemer.  Monrovia City Historian Steve Baker recalls being in the house in the early 1950s and seeing the inside much different than it is now.  At that time, the interior still had much of the Victorian elements still present; for example, the house had a double parlor, one opening in into the next as many houses of that period that still exist have.  At some time, a wall was put up, making the second parlor a bedroom.  As there are almost no permits for the house, it is impossible to tell when that alteration occurred.

Bill and Frances Coleman purchased the house in 1960.  They were early members of the Monrovia Historic Preservation Group.  Bill continued to live in the house until his death in 2011.  At that time, the heirs declined to land mark the house, so it was sold to a buyer living outside the country.

336 N. Ivy Ave.

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The Zerrell House today after conscientious restoration.S

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Jacobina and Herman sitting on the front porch. This picture probably dates from the late 1930s.

Mary Alice Zerelly Seibert stands in front of her house. Her niece, Dorothy Zerell Jefferson, identifies this picture as one taken from the 1950s.

Known Details

Block No: B

Lot No: 45

Landmarked? Yes

Construction Year: 1888

Architectural Style: Victorian

Style Detail: Queen Anne

Contractor: Unknown

Architect: Unknown

Style Altered? No

Location Changed? No

Owner(s): S. R. Palmer, Herman Zerell, Mary Alice Zerell Siebert

Demolished? No

Subdivision: Ocean View Subdivision

    The first owner of this property and the house upon it was S.R. Palmer who sold it to Mrs. W. Bushnell in 1895 who sold it to Herman Zerell in 1900.  In spite of the previous owners, the house has always been known as the “Zerell House” because of the length of time that members of the Zerell family lived there.
    The house is on Lot 45, Block B, of the Ocean View Tract, one of the earlier tracts to be subdivided and J.S. Keefer, the owner of the tract, made sure that the sale of the lots in September of 1887 was widely advertised.
    S.R. Palmer built the house in 1888 (Monrovia Planet, 13 Aug. 1887) and kept it for eight years, selling it to Mrs. Bushnell in 1895.  In the 1897 tax records, the lot is valued at $75 and the house at $600.  The low value of the property reflects the depressed land values of the time.  Almost all the properties in Blocks A & B of the Ocean View Tract were valued at $65 or $75.  On the other hand, the low evaluation of the house reflects its small size.  For comparison, two other houses, one in Block A and the other Block B in the Ocean View Tract were valued at $1,400 and $1,250, respectively.

    In 1900, Mrs. Bushnell sold the house to Herman Zerell and his wife Jacobina.  The last Zerell to live in the house, Mary Alice Zerrell Siebert, died in 1988.  According to Herman Zerell’s granddaughter, Dorothy Zerell Jefferson, except for plumbing and a little electrical, the house’s interior and exterior had changed very little in eighty-eight years.  I was in the house right before it sold in the late 1980's and it certainly seemed that way to me!

    The house is located on a steep hill just below a reservoir and has a fantastic view.  Dorothy Jefferson says this: “I recall standing in the middle of the street, as a child, looking to the south, and asking about the landmass that seemed to be out away from the coast.  My father told me that it was Catalina Island, 26 miles off the California coast.  So, in fact, the tract really did have an ocean view.”
    The house is a two-story Queen Anne Victorian, and for most its life, it has been a very small Victorian.  “Modest” is the term usually used.  The Zerells raised four children in that house and when they came back as adults to visit with their own families, finding a place to sit together was difficult.  Dorothy Jefferson describes it this way: “The adults would squeeze into the dining room to talk.  In the dining room the large round oak table was the focal point.  People would sit around it, or on the leather couch next to the wall.  Grandpa sat in the matching leather chair, and grandma in the dainty rocker.  Most of the younger group would sit on the window seat in front of the big bay window, if they hadn’t figured out a way to be apart from the adults.
    ”On the opposite side of the room was a very large buffet, and there was just enough room between all the furniture for a person to squeeze through sideways.”

    Mary Alice Zerrell Siebert, one of the four children of Hermann and Jacobina, became a widow in 1939 and moved back into the house at 336 N. Ivy.  She continued living in the house after her parents died (her father in 1944 and her mother in 1949) almost up until the time of her death in 1988.  Apparently, she didn’t put much money into the house as Dorothy Jefferson remembers her uncle Ben, Mary Alice’s brother, saying, “The house is being held up by termites holding hands in the foundation.”

    When the present owners, who had been living across the street, purchased the house from Mary Siebert, she was living in a nursing home and there were almost ninety years of “stuff” that had accumulated in the house.  According to Dorothy, it didn’t seem as if her aunt never threw anything away.  At one point, the new owners opened the house for an estate sale and that was the time I was in the house.  I remember being overwhelmed at the thought of the electrical and plumbing work the house was going to need, not to mention the poor condition of the exterior wood.

    Fortunately, one of the owners was an architect and the restoration has been exquisitely done.  An addition to the of back of the house and a tower typical for that style of house were designed with architecture that flows with the original.  The interior retains many of the original Victorian architectural features, but has been updated to accommodate modern living with six children.

    If one looks closely at the picture where Hermann and his wife are sitting on the front porch, one can see the porch brackets which the news owners replicated in their restoration.  In the third picture, the south side of the house can be seen.  Hidden by the trees is an outside stairway to the second story of the house.  What can be seen there now is an addition, not a replication, of a tower commonly seen in this type of house.  Though not original, it is definitely in keeping with a Queen Anne Victorian style of house.  The Zerells would have pleased, I’m sure!

    The house received Historic Landmark status in 1998, is featured in the book Monrovia’s Heritage An Architectural Heritage, and has been featured on the Monrovia Historic Preservation Group’s Mother’s Day vintage home tour twice.

508 S. Ivy Avenue

Image

2003

Known Details

Block No: J

Lot No: 11 & 12

Landmarked? No

Construction Year: 1887

Architectural Style: Victorian

Contractor: Uriah Zimmerman

Architect: Luther Reed Blair

Style Altered? No

Location Changed? Yes

Original Location: 147 E. Olive Avenue

Owner(s): Luther Reed Blair

Demolished? No

Subdivision: Town of Monrovia

Among those who flocked to the new Town of Monrovia during the great land boom of the Eighteen Eighties in Southern California was a young architect, Luther Reed Blair.  Blair went into partnership with Uriah Zimmerman, a building contractor, and the two men were responsible for some of Monrovia's finest early buildings. The "Monrovia Planet": for May 28, 1887 mentions that they had plans almost ready for the Orange Avenue School, as well as the residences of M.S. Monroe, Jefferson Patten, E.P. Large, and Dr. Stewart.  Several months later the "Planet" mentioned that Blair's personal residence was nearing completion at the corner of Ivy and Olive Avenues.  Blair was active in Monrovia fraternal circles as well as the business community, being a charter member of both the Odd Fellows Lodge and the Masonic Lodge.

The general stagnation after the collapse of the boom meant little work for those in the building trades, and in 1895,  Blair sold the house to Andrew Ryder and sought work elsewhere.  The house was purchased in 1906 by Thomas Wardall, who came to Duarte in 1878 and was prominent in that community before retiring to Monrovia.  Wardall was active in Monrovia real estate during the boom, and again after the turn of the last century.  

In 1910, the Wardalls moved into a new house in Wardall's Orange Grove Tract, but retained ownership of the Blair House.  In 1927, the house was moved sixteen blocks from its original location to 319 W. Duarte Road, where it remained for nearly seventy years.  For over fifty of those years, the house was owned by the Lisle family. When the last family member to live in the house moved into a retirement facility in 1992, the property was placed on the market and the fate of the house was uncertain.

That uncertainty was put to rest on April 12, 1993 when the Blair House returned to Ivy Avenue after a sixty-six year hiatus.  The City of Monrovia, through its encouragement and cooperation, was instrumental in making the project possible, and the home of Monrovia's pioneer architect will be restored to appear as it did on his drawing board so long ago.

The pictures here show the house at its present location.  The house is privately owned and is in the process of being restored.

Also view: Craftsman | Spanish & Mediterranean | Period Revival | Public/Commercial | Shotgun