261 N. Canyon Blvd.
Lot No: 9 & 16
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
Style Altered? No
Location Changed? No
Owner(s): Chester P. Dorland
Subdivision: Dorland 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.