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Where East Meets West

Rowland Heights: In an area where a ranch and wheat farms once stood, a community flourishes with a burgeoning Asian influence.

April 21, 1996|MARIAN BOND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Marian Bond is a La Habra Heights freelance writer

After looking at new housing developments in several Southern California cities, including Huntington Beach, Eric Teoh and his wife, Michelle, settled on the San Gabriel Valley community of Rowland Heights and moved into their new 2,900-square-foot home in September.

"One of the things that attracted us the most was the neighborhood. It was nice driving up here," said Eric Teoh. "We liked the view of the house we bought. It faces the southwest looking at LAX and Palos Verdes. We also liked the price. We had looked at homes in Huntington Beach for about the same money, and they are in the area that recently had floods."

The Teohs paid in the high $300,000s for their six-bedroom, three-bath home.

The couple, who both work in Orange County, were initially concerned about the commute south. "We thought the drive would be a nightmare on the freeways," said Eric Teoh, who works in Rancho Dominguez as a laboratory manager for Techmer PM. "But if you travel the surface streets, Beach Boulevard, Imperial Highway, and you hit the lights, it's much quicker." Michelle Teoh is a store manager for Peaktron, a computer company, and she drives to Westminster.

Another attraction of Rowland Heights for the Teohs is shopping in the Chinese business section on Colima Boulevard. Asian businesses have burgeoned on a one-mile section of this busy thoroughfare that parallels the Pomona Freeway, which is the boundary between Rowland Heights and City of Industry to the north. The western border is unincorporated Hacienda Heights, and on the east is the city of Diamond Bar. The hills to the south, where new homes are being built, are in unincorporated Los Angeles County.

"On Colima, it's like going into a Chinese community. There are lots of restaurants, supermarkets," Eric Teoh said. "It's a totally different culture."


Witnesses to a changing culture have been John Rowland IV and the Rowland family as they continue to have a presence in the community named after them.

Rowland Heights is situated on what was once part of La Puente Rancho, a 48,790-acre land grant made in 1842 to pioneers John Rowland and William Workman. The two families operated the property as a cattle ranch until the great flood of 1861-62, which was followed by two years of drought, and raising cattle was curtailed. Within a few years there were wheat fields and extensive vineyards.

In 1868 the property was divided, and Rowland's portion included the area that now bears the Rowland name. The Rowland family had returned to raising cattle on their land and, by the turn of the century, one of the biggest annual events in the area was the spring roundup held by the Rowland Cattle Co.

The Rowland home, built by John Rowland II at the turn of the century, is still standing in good condition and is maintained by caretakers.

John Rowland III lived in the home until he died in the 1960s. "My son, John Rowland V, lives in a house next to that home," said John Rowland IV, who with his wife, Livinia, now lives in neighboring Diamond Bar. His grandson, John Rowland VI, lives in the nearby city of Walnut and has a 2-year-old son, John Rowland VII.

"We still have about 100 acres, but we have developed shopping centers," said John Rowland IV. He noted that it was in the 1940s that struggling farmers began selling their land to developers, and the freeways helped open up access. By 1990 the population had grown to 42,657, and the Asian population represented 26.9%.


About two years ago, Mary Ann and George Kung learned about Rowland Heights, and in January they moved into their new 3,000-plus-square-foot five-bedroom, four-bath home. Their first child, a son, was born shortly thereafter.

"We also wanted to move to Rowland Heights because this is a good location for our jobs. My husband is president of All U Communications Inc. in El Monte," said Mary Ann Kung, who is a sales administrator for Delsun International Inc. in Industry, an easy commute for the new mother.

"We had looked at other new homes being built. I love this one. We have a city lights view from the living room and one bedroom. The kitchen has a center island, and we have a roomy family room."

There are four builders with projects in the hills to the south in Rowland Heights. Shea Homes is building City Lights; S & S Construction has Rancho El Dorado II; Greystone Corp. is building Summit and the Akins Cos. has Ridgemoor Crest. New homes range from the high $200,000s to the high $400,000s, and many offer spectacular views.

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