The pastoral setting of this area changed with the development of rail transportation lines through this area. On May 1, 1895 the first interurban rail route in Southern California opened from Los Angeles to Pasadena along the Arroyo Seco, spurring subdivisions along that route. In 1902, the Pasadena Short Line was opened along Los Angeles-Pasadena Boulevard, now Huntington Drive as depicted in Figure 13 and Figure 14. Los Angeles was recovering from the slump that had followed the boom of the late 1890s. The new economic climate and the rail line were the impetus for the subdivisions of tracts as depicted in Figure 15, Figure 16, Figure 17, and as shown on Table 1 (See photos below).
On the left is Figure 14.
By 1915, 11 tracts had been subdivided in the Bairdstown area centered at Farmdale Avenue (now Eastern Avenue) and Huntington Drive and as depicted in Figure 18. The easternmost central tract was the Navarro Tract owned by the Janss Company. Recorded in March 1909, it was later known as Sierra Park. At the south end of Bairdstown between El Monte Road (now Valley Boulevard) and the Covina Line of the Pacific Electric was Grider and Hamilton's Floral Park, a subdivision of large lots recorded April 1906. This subdivision remained vacant, however, until the 1940s.
The Grider and Hamilton's Floral Park Tract is the area of El Sereno across the tracks on Valley Blvd. Part of the Grider and Hamilton's Floral Tract was bought and developed into what we now know as Cal State L.A. The hills are the southern boundary of El Sereno. (See Map, area outlined in red is where Grider and Hamilton's Floral Park Tract is located: Map of El Sereno See also Figure 18)
The area where Cal State L.A. now sits was part of the original land owned by the Batz Family. The original adobe home where the Batz family lived was located on what is now a Cal State L.A. parking lot. The adobe was destroyed in a fire in 1908. In 1991, Cal State L.A. dedicated a plaque and renamed a street in honor of the Batz Family, who helped establish the Rancho Rosa de Castilla, and gave the Rancho it's original name. Although the area is currently labeled "University Hills", there are many members of the El Sereno community who still refer to it as part of El Sereno. Some community residents are looking into officially reinstating the area back into El Sereno, considering that it's a symbolic cornerstone of El Sereno's history and the Rancho Rosa Castilla. There are questions as to whether this area of El Sereno was renamed with the proper procedures in 2004.
Figure 13 Pasadena Short Line and stops.
The only subdivision lots designed to draw affluent buyers were those on a hilltop in the Baird Park Tract and in Baird's Pasadena Short Line Tract. With the exception of a few scattered houses, these subdivisions did not generate the building of upscale homes.
At the far eastern end of what is now known as El Sereno was the Short Line Villa Tract, subdivided in August 1906, as depicted in Figure 19. It was adjacent to two previously subdivided tracts in the City of South Pasadena: Oneonta Park Addition No. 1, owned by Huntington Land and Improvement Co., recorded March 1904; and Valley View Heights, owned by Valley View Heights Co., recorded March 1906. The expense that Henry Huntington incurred to build the Oneonta Park Pacific Electric Railway Station indicates that these adjacent subdivisions were designed to attract an upper-middle-class resident. The station is depicted in Figure 20 below.
The influx of new residents created a need for community facilities, such as churches, schools, and a social center. A small Presbyterian church was erected in 1908 on a lot donated by the Baird Park Trust Co [(see picture below)]. Episcopal services were held at the Bairdstown Hall after 1911. The second school in the area, Rose Hill School (now Huntington Drive School), was built at the west end of what is now El Sereno in 1909. The third schoolhouse to be built in this area was the Lincoln School. Architect Frederick Noonan designed the eight-room Mission-style building. Built in 1911, it was located in Newton Park and later known as the Bairdstown School and the El Sereno School. In 1910 the Los Angeles Military Academy was established by Mrs. Ida B. McKinnon at the southwest corner of Farmdale Avenue (Eastern) and Huntington Drive. Architect for the dormitory was A.B. Benton.
A Social Center, which met at the Lincoln School Auditorium, was established in 1911. This social center was named the Bairdstown Social Center, Farmdale Social Center, and Lincoln Social Center respectively within the first five years of its existence, indicating that the community was in search of an identity. The Bairdstown Improvement Association, formed that year, also met at the Lincoln School Auditorium. A community library was established in 1915, but a permanent library building would not be erected until 1959 [see 1950's for more info and pics].
Llewellyn Baird, a brother of early subdividers, was a booster for this area. He was able to attract commercial and industrial concerns to the community. The Blomquist and Lindquist Nursery opened to supply the local residents with trees, shrubs, vines, and flowers. The California Metal Enameling Company and the Dillingham Printing Company built large brick factories in Bairdstown providing modest local employment opportunities. The main commercial block with a grocery, meat market, and general store/post office was established within a few years of the first central subdivision in 1903.
From 1900-1915 the area that later became El Sereno did not have a unified identity. There was no coordinated plan for the community as a whole. Subdivisions were platted haphazardly by each property owner, resulting in four distinct neighborhoods, each with its own school as a focal point. Known as Rose Hill, Bairdstown, Farmdale, and Sierra Vista, they were grouped together under the name "Bairdstown" for lack of a better name. Since there were only a few commercial amenities, residents would travel to Los Angeles, Lincoln Heights, Alhambra, or South Pasadena for many of their basic needs. A true sense of community did not develop in the area until after the annexation to Los Angeles in 1915.
Owned most of what today is El Sereno--also owned land in Redondo Beach and built the Redondo Beach Hotel.
Los Angeles Military Academy that was in El Sereno. The address was 4800 Huntington Drive S. and covered 40 acres.Top: 1915 ad.
Members of the First Presbyterian Church of El Sereno pose for a group portrait outside the church, located on what is now called Locke Avenue. LAPL
The Bairdstown Post Office, opened July 7, 1904 and became a Los Angeles station September 30, 1914.
Bairdstown, contained 2,176 acres, was annexed to Los Angeles in 1912 and 1915 and became El Sereno. LAPL
The caption photo above reads: The commercial center of El Sereno around 1905 was the Bairdstown Grocery and Post Office on the corner of Huntington Drive, North, and El Sereno Avenue. Tickets for a ride on the Pacific Electric Railway, which ran along Huntington Drive, could be purchased here. Store was operated by Llewellyn Baird, brother of pioneer real estate developer George Baird. Llewellyn Baird, his wife Abbie and daughter Grace stand under sign. Picture above was loaned to Dr. Don Newman, local historian, by Grace Baird Nutsch, who resides today in Canoga Park. (Third in a series)
Unique picture of early El Sereno, looking east along Huntington Drive. The lone tree in the center of the photo is the approximate corner of Huntington Drive and Eastern Ave. Bairdstown Post Office can be seen opposite the tree. Only picture that shows the entire length of Huntington Dr. between late 1890 and early 1900s. Robert Lerner/CSULA archives.
The California Metal Enameling Company that existed in El Sereno (then called Bairdstown). It was located near the northwest corner of El Sereno Ave and Huntington Drive. It operated from the early 1900's up until the 1920's. Today, a lot of the enameled advertising signs are collectables. A warm thanks to Louis Salcido for contributing to this post.
News clip courtesy of Louis Salcido
News clip courtesy of Louis Salcido
This enameled sign sold for over $1000.00 at auction. Photo courtesy of Louis Salcido
Diamond-shaped blue and white highway sign that reads "Colton - Riverside - Auto Club So. Cal" and features an arrow. Sign is marked "Cal. Met. Enam. Co. Bairdstown, Cal." Shows some wear to the enamel and rusting but has a good color. Rated 7.