A Homestead Headlines Article by Chuck Oldenburg
Hi Sam. Good to see you again here at Volunteer Park. This time we’ll walk around the valley counter clockwise. This street is Melrose. On the 1903 subdivision map it didn’t have a name. Let’s head south. Alfred and Fannie Worley lived in a house on that corner of La Verne and Melrose. He bought land behind the house, subdivided it and named the new street Melrose—he was English. It was an extension of the unnamed street that then took that name. Note that Worley’s Melrose is narrower than the original unnamed street. [click images to enlarge]
Catty corner from the Worley house was the Santos chicken ranch. When the property was cleared to build this new house, we found an old privy near the creek. Across the creek on La Verne is where Alan Watts used to live. Let’s continue up La Verne.
Here at #412 is the long driveway to an 8-acre gentleman’s farm. This was the orchard area. When Jack Yamamoto bought this 1.4-acre property from Helen Eells Vandevere in the late 1940s, a few of the original fruit trees that her father Alec Eells had planted in the early 1900s were still productive. Alec bought the land in 1904 and by the time he died in 1911, his farm had a large comfortable house for his wife and their three daughters. Gasoline was used for lighting in the house. The tank was up near the road. The gasoline flowed by gravity down to the house where a network of tubing fed lamps in every room. Each lamp had a valve and a mantle [like a Coleman camping lantern]. Beyond the home, now #435, is a creek crossing under the road. Up the hill on the left was a redwood tank that supplied spring water to the house. Alec had water and lights plus wood for heating and cooking. No electricity, no telephone, no gas, and no motor vehicles—horses to pull a wagon, a buggy, a plow and a cultivator. His oldest daughter had pony to ride or pull a small cart.
I guess you remember seeing Weedon Redwoods on the left and Three Groves and Stolte Grove on the right during our last walk. Let’s go into Tamalpais Canyon which was originally Camp Tamalpais. In front of the first house is a very large redwood, probably about 700 years old. You can get inside it where it was burned in a fire about 300 years ago.. The next house has a funicular that provides an alternative to the 200 steps. As we walk up around the parking lot, you can see houses up high on the left. The steps at the far end of the canyon lead to open space lands. OK, back to where La Verne ends and Montford begins.
Let’s go up Pixie Trail. This street was called Marin Ave. on a 1920s map of La Verne Heights, a development of 175 lots and 9 streets. The streets were graded, but only about 20 houses were built. Now that we’ve passed the last house, we are in the Pixie Trail open space area. This used to be Rancho del Topé owned by Erik Krag. That red house up on the left was his house. We’ll follow Pixie Trail all the way to Janes Street. But first, let’s sit on this bench and look across the valley to Homestead Hill in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Homestead’s open space is below it where the trees are.
Now that we have emerged from the open space, we’ll go down Janes St. and make almost a U turn onto Montford, turn left on Melrose and return to Volunteer Park.
If you have comments or questions about this article
or other topics pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.