113 N. Primrose Avenue
Block No: D
Lot No: 4 & 5
Construction Year: 1887
Architectural Style: Victorian
Style Detail: With Queen Anne detailing
Style Altered? No
Location Changed? Yes
Original Location: Chestnut Avenue
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.