As part of our Mission to share the history of El Sereno with the community and public, we plan to present a new picture/historic document every month. This will allow us, the El Sereno Historical Society, to continue sharing recent historic discoveries.
But more importantly it will allow you, our readers and supporters, the chance to have any hidden or long-forgotten historic gems be shared with our great El Sereno community. Sharing and learning about our history is a community effort, and we thank all those who contribute and add to our growing historic community's website.
El Sereno Park’s Clubhouse, located at 4721 Klamath St., was officially dedicated on December 13, 1949 by none other than Councilman Ernest E. Debs. There are many residents and former residents who still have fond childhood memories of various community, family, and school events held at the clubhouse. Up until a few years ago, the Clubhouse was still used for miscellaneous activities, its decline greatly due to the neglect that allowed the Clubhouse to fall into the state it's currently in.
Over the past few years, several attempts have been made by residents to get the necessary funding in order to restore the clubhouse, as well as to upgrade El Sereno’s parks in general. To date, the Clubhouse continues to be scheduled for demolition, despite all the time and effort spent by residents and community groups to get the funding to see it restored.
This is just another of the many historic and cherished buildings that have been or will be demolished instead of being preserved. Preserving these historic building not only preserves a piece of local history, but more importantly, it adds to residents’ sense of community and builds community pride. While the neighboring CD 14 communities of Highland Park, Boyle Heights, and Eagle Rock are being flushed with funds for the very purpose of restoring their historic homes and buildings, El Sereno’s residents requests for equal funding in order to restore El Sereno’s historic landmarks are ignored.
To date, the community of El Sereno does not have one home or building which has been preserved or officially recognized as an important local historic landmark. This is despite the fact that El Sereno’s history dates back to pre-Spanish times; the Tongva village of Otsungna having been located along the Arroyo Rosa de Castillo, on what is now Cal State University, Los Angeles campus & El Sereno.
We are working towards seeing that this historic community building is saved, restored and preserved for future generations to enjoy. We will be updating our progress as we move forward with this endeavor.
Yet another shameful event being allowed on El Sereno's few historic landmarks still in existence today. The historic Soto/Mission St. Bridge is scheduled for demolition next year, the reason being to allow commuters from Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley an express, undisturbed commute to the ever expanding USC Health School located off Soto St, across and around Hazard Park.
The Soto/Mission Street Bridge's destruction benefits USC's plans for expansion across the area. USC wants to make sure it's students and staff have are not inconvenienced in anyway, even if that means destroying historic local landmarks. The Environmental Review studies for this project were quietly done back in 2004, almost around the same time the Ascot Hills Environmental Review studies were taking place. The difference is the Ascot Hills studies were done in the open, with more transparency, and more community input was allowed and taken into consideration.
In contrast, only within the last year and a half has the City's Bureau of Engineering done any community "outreach". This community "outreach" are really meetings set up to "inform" the community about what has already been decided. They try to say that they have held community meetings allow the community's input, but in reality it's nothing but a facade done in order to cover their tracks. They fail to mention the destruction of the Mission/Soto Bridge will only benefit commuters coming from Pasadena/San Gabriel and USC's Health Schools .
El Sereno has been totally left out of having any input or consideration by the city. While other bridges in the nearby Arroyo Seco area are being labeled historic and are receiving the funds necessary to see them restored, this historic bridge in El Sereno continues to be neglected, it's historic significance ignored, and is instead scheduled to be demolished.
FOR INFORMATION & MORE HISTORIC PICTURES OF THE SOTO/MISSION BRIDGE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW.
THE SOTO/MISSION ST BRIDGE
After the death of Catalina Batz in 1882, the children divided up the rancho among themselves by drawing straws for particular tracts. Jose Domingo Batz, the fifth of the seven children, drew seven hundred acres of Rosa de Castilla to the south, including the original adobe. Soon after, he hired an Austrian architect to enlarge the home rather dramatically. The architectural effect is decidedly more French than Mexican, though the adobe wall recalls the Spanish and Indian heritage. [Jose Domingo was the father of Esperanza and Marguerite Batz. J.D. Batz was married to Josefa Lifur, Martin Lifur's sister].
The Batzes would reside in the renovated adobe for over twenty years. Despite dividing the ranch at their mother's death, José Domingo Batz and his siblings apparently cooperated in its operation.
The expanding suburbs of Los Angeles reached out to Rancho Rosa de Castilla in 1906. That year José Domingo and his family sold all but a hundred acres of the ranch to Grider and Hamilton, real estate developers. The exact amount sold at that point is unclear, but the selling price of $90,000 suggests the appreciation that had occurred since the 1870s.
On sale of the adobe, the Batzes had moved north of the old mission road and the railroad tracks to a new Victorian mansion at 2457 Endicott Street where they remained until 1934 [the custom made home had twelve rooms]. During those twenty-eight years, El Sereno grew in the surrounding area, most of the former ranch drawn into the Los Angeles city limits through the Bairdstown annexation of 1915.
As subdivision progressed, the Batzes gradually sold their remaining acres, including finally the Endicott house [the sisters, Esperanza and Marguerite, sold the home because it was too big for them. The sisters never married nor had children. They moved across the hill to Lafler Rd]. From that time to the late 1960s, the house served as a home for the mentally ill run by Valcrest, Inc. The old home was then demolished and replaced by a modern facility. From 1978 to the present the latter facility has functioned as the Anne Sippi Clinic for the treatment of schizophrenia.
The information above comes from:
RANCHO ROSA DE CASTILLA: Hispanic Continuity in Greater East Los Angeles
Author(s): John R. Chávez
Source: Southern California Quarterly, Vol. 80, No. 4 (Winter 1998), pp. 399-418
Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the Historical Society of Southern California
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Picture is courtesy of: California State University, Los Angeles, John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, CSULA Collection/Robert Lerner (primary researcher & collector).
Many of R. Lerner’s unique and irreplaceable files/photos had been lost, forgotten, for over forty years in storage boxes at CSULA. Fortunately, through the El Sereno Historical Society’s own painstaking research and effort, they were rediscovered and are able to be shared. — El Sereno Historical Society.
Then & Now: Alhambra Avenue & East Valley Boulevard, El Sereno 1931. Although many things have changed since 1931, one feature found in both photos are the undeveloped grassy hills. This green open space is one of the qualities that makes El Sereno the unique community it is.
Jose Domingo Batz was the son of the early pioneer Jean Baptiste Batz (Juan Bautista Batz) who came to California with his wife Catalina Hegui Batz in1850. Originally from the Basque Country in France, Juan Bautista and wife Catalina settled in what had been the Rancho Rosa de Castilla previously owned by the Ballesteros Family.
One of seven children, in 1882 J.D. Batz inherited the land containing the historic adobe built in 1776 (the area where Cal State LA now stands) after the passing of his mother Catalina Hegui Batz. Jose Domingo Batz and his siblings were able to work together and even though the Rancho was no longer under the ownership of one, the Batz siblings' unity made it possible for them to see that the Rancho turned over a handsome profit every year.
Along the way in his life, J.D. Batz realized his love of carpentry and working with his hands, enough so that he began to carve beautiful handmade canes, which he entered in many local fairs and cane competitions. His canes were frequent winners of badges, trophies, and prize money. That we know of, J.D. Batz only made six canes.
We were contacted by Mr Tom F. who was seeking more information about his particular cane. Though the research has been tough because of the lack of documents about the canes, we do have pictures and video of most of them. Mr. Tom F.'s cane was recently featured on the Antique Roadshow in Rapid City. He shares what he knows about his J.D. Batz cane in the video below.
Remarkably, a list of canes made by JD Batz has survived. This list includes the year the cane was made and who the recipient of each cane was. The list shows that our very own historic Farmdale Schoolhouse-Museum was the recipient of one of these canes. More than likely the Batz sisters, Marguerite and Esperanza Batz, were the ones who donated the cane in the mid-1970s, when the Schoolhouse was being restored to it's original state thanks to the efforts of Dr. Newman and Cal State LA.
Marguerite and Esperanza Batz were the daughters of J.D. Batz. This family sold the 600 acres surrounding the old adobe and had a huge ranch style mansion built on what today is occupied by the Anna Sippi between Lombardy Blvd and Endicott St (see Picture of the Month: March).
Though we were unsuccessful in locating the cane on our first tour of Farmdale Schoolhouse-Museum, we hope the next tour will yield some hidden treasures tucked away in nooks and crannies. Until we then, we hope you have enjoyed learning about El Sereno's long history and fascinating history of the early pioneering Batz Family who will forever be linked to the Great Town of El Sereno.
Top-Left to right: Jose Domingo Batz, Amado Batz; father & uncle.
L to R Francisca Batz, Victoria Jordan; Aunt & cousin.
Left to right: Domingo Batz, Rafael Batz--Uncles; Francisca & Marta--Aunts. More than likely, the cane Domingo is holding was carved by his brother, Jose Domingo Batz.
Say something interesting about your business here.
Looks like Councilmember Jose Huizar isn't just saying he loves El Sereno without truly showing his love. He finally gave the community a spectacular fireworks show this past Saturday, June 29, 2013.
It was a fireworks show which has been long overdue and NEEDS to continue getting better. We hope this is the start of new era for El Sereno and we hope this means change for the better is coming to our community.
Although Saturday was a big step in the right direction, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in our community.
Lombardy Blvd & Eastern Ave
Charter School & 20 "Town-Home" units are proposed for construction on the hill of Lombardy Blvd & Eastern Ave, across from Farmdale Elementary & El Sereno Park.
The plan is to build a 530 student Charter School and 20 “Town-Home” units atop of this hill. This project was approved by the LA-32 (El Sereno) Neighborhood Council last year, under former president Anthony Manzano. Yet very little, if any, outreach was done to inform the community and get the community’s input. The teachers, parents, and staff of Farmdale Elementary and El Sereno Middle School have been for the most part left out as well.
The community's residents were finally informed thanks to not only the ESHS's efforts, but by the efforts of a few residents who took it upon themselves to inform others homeowners in the surrounding area, started a petition opposing this project, and created a network to keep everyone informed.
The community's opposition to this project has been strong; large number of residents have attended both Neighborhood Council meetings, NC Land Use Committee meetings, and the Public Hearing that took place at City Hall. Up to 80 residents were present at the special NC meeting which took place on July 25, 2013 at Barrio Action. Link- ESHS July 25, 2013
At this meeting, the developer got a chance to re-present the project to the community and residents were able to express their opinions and concerns directly to the developer and those diligent NC board members who were present (a few, mainly those who were NC Board members under Anthony Manzano, chose to boycott the meeting because the residents want the current board to overturn the Letter of Support given to developer by the last NC Board. The problem with the letter is the lack of documentation to validate the last NC Board's position. There are no archived agendas and more importantly, no minutes of the Board's meeting).
On Thursday, August, 8th, 2013 the Los Angeles City Planning Commission will have the Eastern & Lombardy project on their agenda. The meeting will start at 8:30 AM. Residents are encouraged to bring signed letters of opposition to the meeting.
Link:Planning Commission Agenda
CITY HALL - PUBLIC WORKS BOARD ROOM 350
200 N. MAIN STREET, LOS ANGELES, CA 90012
The building of this school and apartments will affect not only the parents, residents, and park users; it will also change the Quality of Life and the character of the community.
Everyone who DOES NOT want this built in our community NEEDS to go to this August 8, 2013 Planning Commission meeting in order to make sure their opinions & concerns are heard.
UPDATE: CITY PLANNING COMMISSION VIDEO
August 8, 2013--City Planning Commission's review of the Lombardy & Eastern Project proved to the developer and dead-beat NC Board Members (see August 7, 2013 El Sereno NC meeting) that we were right to be concerned.
Members of the Planning Commission were alarmed and had many concerns with the proposed project, stating that a lot of work has to be done and the concerns had to be addressed before the project is reviewed again.
The Planning Commission rejected the project as it was presented, but gave the developer a continuance to allow the developer the opportunity try and salvage the project with a new idea/plan. The developer has until October to come up with new project that meets the community's approval
We requested to be allowed to speak even though the Planning Commission said it was unnecessary; it had already stated its concerns about the project and had given the developer a continuance.
But we made a staunch request for our opinions to be heard, especially by the developer, and have them included as part of the record.
As a community, we unequivocally said that the rezoning of the hillside was unacceptable as was the commercialization of the area.
Any project outside of the low residential zoning will be met with the same resistance. Our community's hills are worth preserving; the Quality of Life these open spaces bring are an important component of El Sereno's history and uniqueness.
Today's outcome proves what we have said all along--the community is waking up and will no longer tolerate the abuses and shenanigans that have been done in the past. What some had said was a lost cause turned out to be a victory--and this is only the begin for El Sereno.
It also means the beginning of the end to those who have used and abused our cherished community for so long...
What's something exciting your business offers? Say it here.
Give customers a reason to do business with you.
HIS UNFLINCHING AND FANATICAL ATTEMPTS TO CREATE UNETHICAL DIVISIONS IN EL SERENO, ESPECIALLY HIS SUPPORT FOR ROSE HILLs, DESERVES RECOGNITION.
ON AUGUST 20, 2013, WITH THE HELP OF HIS SINVERGÜENZA LACKEY ERICK MARTELL, COUNCILMEMBER JOSE HUIZAR GOT THE ROSE HILLs MOTION TO PASS THE COMMITTEE LEVEL.
WHEN IT WENT BEFORE THE CITY COUNCIL ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2013, COUNCILMEMBER JOSE HUIZAR ONCE AGAIN USED HIS BAG-OF-DIRTY POLITICAL TRICKS TO ADD THE ROSE HILLs MOTION TO A GROUP OF MOTIONS, WHICH WAS THEN VOTED ON BY THE CITY COUNCIL.
WITH THIS DIRTY MOVE, COUNCILMEMBER JOSE HUIZAR MADE SURE THE CITY COUNCIL VOTED AND PASSED THE ROSE HILLs MOTION WITHOUT ALLOWING PUBLIC COMMENTS.
THIS MEANT RESIDENTS OF EL SERENO WHO ATTENDED THE MEETING TO SPEAK AGAINST THIS UNETHICAL DIVISION WERE LEFT UNHEARD. IN EFFECT, HE USED HIS POSITION TO SILENCE THE MAJORITY OF RESIDENTS WHO ARE AGAINST THIS DIVISION OF EL SERENO.
HOWEVER, IF HE THINKS THIS IS THE END OF THE STORY,
HE HAS A LOT TO LEARN ABOUT EL SERENO...
This is an update to a previous post about El Sereno Park's Community Clubhouse. We have worked very hard to see that this historic icon is restored and made available for the community to use.
We reached out to L.A. County Supervisor, First District, Gloria Molina, who was very professional and quick to respond to the community’s concern. Supervisor Molina was pro-active on getting her staff working on this project. Through her staff’s efforts, meetings were set up that included her staff, community residents, Councilmember Jose Huizar’s staff, and Rec and Park staff.
After a couple productive meetings, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Just last week staff from Rec and Parks was out taking estimates of the Clubhouse. Our hope is that Councilmember Jose Huizar will put up the $190,000 originally approved to upgrade the Clubhouse in 2005.
Somehow, the City approved funding never reached its intended purpose. The initial $190,000 is a good chunk to start; we hope Supervisor Gloria Molina will cover other funds needed to see the project completed.
Also in the works is the allocation of funds needed to install permanent restrooms at El Sereno Park. Port-O-Potties are not meant to be permanent. Our local Park gets a lot of use; having permanent restrooms makes sense and will address a concern voiced by many residents over the years. Again, we hope Councilmember Jose Huizar will put up the cost for this project.
Despite our hard-core stance, we know it’s important to have a working relationship with those elected to represent us. We are always willing to work with whom-ever and do what needs to be done to see that our community gets the services and funding needed to improve the Quality of Life.
These projects not only help improve our community today, they also set the foundation for something better; for future generations in El Sereno to use, enjoy, and build upon.
We thank everyone who has helped these projects continue on a positive track, especially fellow residents, Gloria Molina and her great staff, and Councilmember Jose Huizar and his staff.
We expect another meeting in the near future where we will find out the final $$amount needed to complete these projects. We will update you as soon as we can.
El Sereno Park Documents:
In 2005, the Board of Recreation and Parks Commission allocated $190,000 to upgrade and refurbish the Clubhouse. The Clubhouse did not receive any of the $190,000.
City File 05-135, Original Funds Allocated for Clubhouse
Agenda Item, Clubhouse $$ Allocated
On January 11, 2012, the Board of Recreation and Parks Commission approved a request by Councilmember Jose Huizar to transfer part of the original Clubhouse funding towards the purchase and installation of a new Air Conditioning System for the El Sereno Senior Citizen Center.
Reallocating the original $190,000 is essential to complete the Clubhouse upgrades and refurbishment. Councilmember Jose Huizar needs to reimburse this money back to the Clubhouse’s account.
12-006 Clubhouse Quimby $$ Transferred - Senior Center
For unknown reasons, the Clubhouse is on the Department of Recreation and Parks demolition list. None of the documents reviewed specified the reason(s) behind the Clubhouse’s demolition. There are only minimal traces of asbestos in very small areas of the Clubhouse. The amount of time and cost relative to the remove the asbestos is small.
We have requested an estimate for the refurbishment of the Clubhouse and have yet to receive one from LA Department of Recreation and Parks. Below is the the Department of Recreation and Parks' estimate for the demolition of the Clubhouse.
Park Clubhouse Demo Est 11-17-11
Clubhouse Asbestos - minimal traces
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Give customers a reason to do business with you.
Residents Near or Far: Helping To Re-discover El Sereno's History
When we originally found this photo, the caption described the scene as looking north from Templeton Street at a trench dug for the Eastern Ave Storm Drain, 1933. Although we had some doubt, we assumed it was talking about Eastern. We shared the picture on our Facebook page as a Then and Now post.
It wasn't long before some of our friends on Facebook began to wonder if any of the homes from the 1933 picture were still standing in order to match them up. Though it was a good idea, we weren't sure if we would have time to follow up. Luckily, Facebook friend Chris Miasnik, a native of El Sereno now living out of state, took up the task and found more than we expected.
Through the use of Google, Chris did a house-by-house search. By comparing the unique features of the home in the photo, he was able to find the exact home still standing today. To our surprise, the street in the picture was not Eastern Ave, but a trench parallel to Eastern that followed the original creek bed that once ran through the area.
Chris was able to find an old map through HistoricAerials.com that actually showed where the old creek used to flow. Once Chris shared that and we saw just how off we were, we had to follow up.
We went out and took our own pictures and got the historic maps that showed where the creek used to be.
Thanks to Chris Miasnik, we are able to bring you not only Then and Now pictures of the homes, but maps and aerial photos showing where a creek runs beneath our streets. It goes to show, a person can still contribute to knowledge of local history even if they no longer live in the state. It also shows what we've known all along, Where Ever You Are, Whether Near Or Far; El Sereno Is Always in Your Heart.
This same creek was still visible a few years ago as it crossed underneath Druid. It has since been covered with cement slabs. But, I remember this creek always had water, even in mid-summer. More than likely, it still flows unseen today.
For the second year in a row, the "Picture of the Month" will feature homes/businesses in El Sereno where the Christmas lights shine bright and the Community Pride remains strong. We will continue to add pictures to our El Sereno Community Pride and Holiday Spirit 2013 album on an almost daily basis. We don't know if we'll be able to photograph every home & business showing El Sereno Community Pride and Holiday Spirit, but we'll try our best.