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SNAPSHOTS

Campaign to save orange grove harvests hope for preservationists

December 24, 1987|RANDA CARDWELL | Times Staff Writer

Although their dream of saving one of Glendora's last working orange groves faded last spring, preservationists were united by the effort and remain determined to hang onto a bit of the city's history.

Out of the ruins of the six-month drive rose the Glendora Preservation Foundation, which is now working to save historic homes and create a new grove to memorialize the role of citrus in the city's history.

The orange grove and an 87-year-old ranch house the groups had hoped to save have been torn down and replaced with a 24-home development.

However, the ill-fated campaign "brought to the attention of a lot of people that there is no methodology for saving older homes," said Robert Bruce, an assistant city planner who has been working with the foundation to draft an ordinance to protect historic structures.

"The desire has been there in the community for a long time and it has finally come together," he said.

As its first project, the foundation has embarked on a drive to save a small turn-of-the-century Victorian farmhouse. The group hopes to raise $20,000 by January to move the Hamilton House from its site at 1030 E. Alosta Ave. to a nearby city park, which has been set aside for the placement of historic homes and a grove.

The group, which started on the Hamilton House project last month, has raised about $2,000 and is confident it can meet its goal by January, when the new owner of the property wants to clear the land for construction.

"I think the house will be saved because there are too many people in Glendora who care," said Marshall Mouw, a foundation member who led the Save the Orange Trees project.

The red and white house was donated to the foundation by Jane Hamilton Torf, who bought the property on which it sits in 1957 and sold it last month to a commercial developer.

Torf has operated an antique shop in the home but plans to close the business.

"I'm sentimental about it, so I'd hate to see the wrecking ball get a hold of it," she said.

The move would be the second for the building, which was originally located at the northwest corner of Wabash and Bennett avenues.

The foundation is intent on saving the structure because it was built by George Whitcomb, the founder of Glendora, and townspeople for a family that had lost their home in a fire.

"It has been an important house in Glendora," said Jane Negley, the president of the foundation. "It is pretty much destined to be saved."

The Hamilton House would be the first home to be moved to the city's new Centennial Heritage Park, a five-acre parcel of land between a flood-control channel and some wooded foothills.

The city gave the land for the park to the preservationists as a compromise when it became clear that the group could not raise the $120,000 needed to save a portion of the orange grove and the ranch house. "It allows preservation without stifling development," Bruce said.

The foundation plans to plant 80 citrus trees early next year, including orange, lemon, grapefruit, tangerine and kumquat. The park will also house the work shed of inventor Orton Englhardt, a former Glendora resident who designed the Rainbird sprinkler for his Glendora ranch.

The long-range goal is to place six historic homes in the park, Negley said. The foundation will operate the park, but the city will retain title to the property.

The foundation also is working with the city Planning Department to draft an ordinance to protect historic homes, Negley said.

The proposed ordinance would protect any historically significant structure, plant or object by having it designated either a historic resource or a city landmark.

The city would be empowered to label any valuable structure a historic resource and city approval would be required before significant exterior changes could be made. If the owner consented, the city could declare the structure a city landmark, subject to much stricter regulation, Bruce said.

There has been no formal survey of the city's houses, but Bruce estimates that about 300 could qualify as historic resources.

Negley hopes the ordinance can protect neighborhoods that have several homes older than 50 years old, she said.

"We need to look at what we have and ask if what are we going to build will be better than what we tear down," she said. With the ordinance, "Somebody will have to sit back and think before demolition takes over."

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