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Estate and Park Are Centerpiece of Community : Brand Park: One of Glendale's most picturesque areas has small-town atmosphere, but not small-town prices.

October 23, 1994|PEGGY CLAY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Clay is a Los Angeles free-lance writer. and

In 1912, Leslie C. Brand, a Glendale founding father, was famous for the lavish celebrity fly-in parties he threw at his mansion. The private planes landed on Kenneth Road and taxied up El Miradero toward his estate.

Today, El Miradero no longer serves as an airstrip but is a residential street lined with well-kept homes. The Brand estate is now a park and the mansion is an art and music library. They are the centerpiece of the surrounding community, Brand Park.

Kindgon and Louise Clough have lived on El Miradero for more than three decades. "The neighborhood looks the same as it did 33 years ago," said Kindgon Clough. "We bought here because it was strictly zoned for single-family homes and we like living close to the park."

One of Glendale's most picturesque neighborhoods, Brand Park is located in the northwestern section of the city. It stretches north from Kenneth Road to the Verdugo foothills. The eastern border is Grandview and the western boundary is the city of Burbank. An estimated 3,600 residents live there.

The neighborhood's gently sloping, tree-lined streets are filled with walkers and joggers. One of the regular walkers is Mary Staub, 40, the owner of Emily's Giftshop in Glendale. She bought her two-bedroom, two bath home for $325,000 in April, 1993.

"I train guide dogs and I needed a neighborhood where I could walk and feel safe," Staub said. "I love the small-town feel. My neighbors actually bought me cookies when we moved in."

Brand Park does have a small-town feel, with with stop signs everywhere and one traffic signal at the intersection of Kenneth and Grandview. "Downtown" is one block long, with quaint shops and colorful awnings. There is O'Neil's Foothill Farm Market, several gift shops, a coffee shop, pharmacy and Pat's Ol' Fashion Meat Market.

But the community does not have small-town home prices. The median home price in Brand Park is $350,000, for up to four bedrooms and three baths, with square footage from 1,500 to 2,000, according to Hamid Hamidinia of Prudential California Realty. For about $250,000 you can purchase a two-bedroom, one-bath home with 1,300 to 1,500 square feet, he said. At the high end of the market, homes range in price from $500,000 to $1 million mansions.

"Brand Park is the Bel-Air of Glendale," Hamidinia said. "Many of the homes were built in the 1920s to 1940s. They are well preserved, with features like arched windows, hand plaster, curved ceilings and thick walls that you won't find in newer homes."

The neighborhood's focal point is the Brand mansion, "El Miradero," which is Spanish for "a high place overlooking a far view."

The mansion was built in 1904 by Brand, a wealthy developer who founded the Glendale Light and Power Co. and helped build the electric railroad from downtown Los Angeles to Glendale.

After seeing the East Indian Pavilion at the 1900 World's Fair, Brand decided his home would have Middle Eastern and Victorian influences. The white Saracenic arches and minarets is reminiscent of a fairy tale castle nested against the foothills.

The Brand family donated the home to the city of Glendale, and the site of extravagant parties is now a library. The lush park also has a lovely Japanese tea garden and a historic Doctor's House, and is a popular site for weddings as well as baseball games.

"I was attracted to Brand Park because it is a pretty, quiet, family-oriented community," said Emmy Goldsborough, 31, a horse trainer at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. "I love walking my dogs around the park."

Goldsborough bought her three-bedroom, two-bath house for $300,000 last spring, attracted by "spacious, bright, open rooms."

When Pam and Douglas Demmert were looking for a house 22 years ago, they choose a three-bedroom Cape Cod-style home in Brand Park. "It felt like Americana," Pam Demmert said. "There is a real sense of community here. I know my neighbors and most of them have lived here for years."

One of Brand Park's big pluses, according to the Demmerts, who raised two children there, are the local schools. "My son attended Hoover High and it's run like a private school," Pam Demmert said.

Seventy percent of the students graduating from Hoover go on to two- or four-year colleges, according to Glendale Public Schools information office.

Another draw is the lack of crime, resident said, and the police agree. "Brand Park is one of Glendale's safest communities," said Jack Altounian, a crime analyst for Glendale Police Department. There are virtually no violent crimes and few property crimes. The FBI crime index for 1992 reports crime at less than 1%.

"We have had an occasional burglary on our block over the years," said Clough. There was even an attempt on their own home. "When I realized he was trying to break the lock, I went into the kitchen and called the police," Louise Clough said. "They were on the way before I got off the phone." The suspect fled but the Glendale police caught him.

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