Take the Treasures of Garvanza Tour...
History of Garvanza || Church of the Angels|| Greenshaw Residence || Workmans Cottages
Condron Residence || Adams Residence || Dr. Williams Residence || Judson Studios

Garvanza was the first town to be founded in Northeast Los Angeles. During the middle of the nineteenth century, Garvanza was a part of the Rancho San Rafael. The area was named for the garbanzo plants which once covered the surrounding hills. Legend has it that Don Julio Verdugo built an adobe nearby and planted these beans in 1833. Later, the adobe was abandoned, but the garbanzos flourished and spread.

The 114,000-acre rancho was sold in 1869 for about $1.00 an acre to settle Verdugo's debts. The land north of Meridian Street was purchased by Prudent Beaudry, a future mayor of Los Angeles (1874-76). After several transfers of title, 2,200 acres of the property were acquired in 1883 by Alexander Campbell-Johnston of England. The ranch was used for cattle and sheep raising and general farming.

The land south of Meridian Street was purchased by Andrew Glassell and Alfred Chapman. They leased most of the property to sheep raisers Don and Dona Miguel Goldaracena. The present-day Occidental campus was the location of the sheep-shearing corral.

Ralph and Edward Rogers purchased the land that is now located along York Boulevard in the 1886 and subdivided the town site of Garvanzo, later changing to Garvanza. The original town boundaries were Crescent Street on the north, Avenue 66 on the east, North Figueroa Street on the west, and Arroyo Glen Street on the south.

The construction of several rail lines contributed to the rapid development of the town which was centered at what is now York Boulevard and Avenue 64. In 1885, the first rail line connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena was developed by the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Railroad. It maintained a depot in Garvanza at the northwest corner of the intersection. The building stood until 1947 and was later used by the Pacific Electric depot and then as the Wells Fargo freight office. When the Pacific Electric was built by the way of South Pasadena and Garvanza, there was a waiting station on South Avenue 64, a short block from York Boulevard.

In the early years, business lots sold for as much as $1500. Miller's Hall was the first business block to go up. Strategically located next to the depot, it was the home of early fraternal organizations and served as a public gathering place. The first post office, school, and library reading room were located there as well. The Garvanza Villa Hotel opened on the corner of South Avenue 63 and York Boulevard in November of 1886, attracting winter tourists, many of whom purchased home lots and stayed. The Campbell-Johnston Block (also known as the San Rafael Block) was built at the Avenue 64 and York Boulevard in 1888. It was the first brick building erected between Los Angeles and Pasadena.

In association with James Booth and W.F. McClure, the Rogers organized the Garvanza Land Company and held a land auction in the spring of 1887. They offered prospective buyers a "free excursion and lunch" as an inducement to attend the auction. By the end of the year, the population had grown to 500 and religious, social, and cultural institutions began to form. The Garvanza Methodist Church and the Church of the Angels were built nearby in 1888 and 1889, respectively.

The beautiful Arroyo setting attracted many artists, poets, and writers to the area. William Lees Judson established his studio on South Avenue 66 in 1893. Two distinguished local architects, Robert Edmund Williams and Frederick Ashley, designed and built homes on North Avenue 66. Clyde Browne, a printer, began the construction of Abbey San Encino on Arroyo Glen. The Southern California Arts and Crafts Movement was really shaped by these artisans, architects, craftspersons and intellectuals who called Garvanza home. Garvanza thus became a central point of this artistic activity with the influences of Judson and Browne and is considered to be the first "art colony" of the Arroyo Seco and Los Angeles.

As the settlement of Garvanza was in county territory, unincorporated and not a part of the City of Los Angeles, the Garvanza Improvement Association was formed. The main purpose of this group was to plant trees and furnish other "city" services, such as collect garbage, grade and sprinkle streets, and so on. During the 1890's the association planted 500 street trees and kept them alive with an old water cart operated by horse power. Out of this grew the observance of Arbor Day throughout the country. Nature has always been in integral part of this community. The Garvanza Audubon Society was founded in 1904 by a local resident and two years later the name was changed to Los Angeles Audubon.

In 1895, the need for a more reliable source of water and other public services caused Highland Park to request annexation to the City of Los Angeles. Four years later, Garvanza was also annexed to Los Angeles. The name Garvanza was kept alive for many years, however, mainly through the efforts of the Garvanza Improvement Association. Later it was felt that the communities of Northeast Los Angeles should unite to better advance their interests under the name Greater Highland Park. Thus the identity of Garvanza as a separate community was almost lost. Highland Park Heritage Trust spearheaded the resurrection of the name Garvanza to increase awareness in local history. In 1997, the City of Los Angeles granted the request for Community Designation and installed five signs outlining the general borders of Garvanza.

More on the Development of Highland Park

"Treasures of Garvanza" was a walking tour of historical properties presented by Highland Park Heritage Trust on October 23, 1999.