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JAUNTS: in and around the Valley

The Pulse of History

Doctors' House, restored in detail, gives a glimpse of Glendale at the turn of the century.

September 11, 1997|IRENE GARCIA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Stashed away in Brand Park is a quaint Victorian cottage that was built in the late 1880s, when Glendale was a small agricultural community with fewer than 300 residents.

It's called the Doctors' House Museum because four respected doctors--three physicians and one chemist--lived in it from 1895 until 1914.

In the late 1970s, the Glendale Historical Society restored the house and later opened it to the public for free tours. Its interior offers historical information about the city and the doctors who lived there.

"The house was going to be demolished," said Isabelle Meyer of the Glendale Historical Society. "More than 20,000 hours of volunteer labor went into restoring it. We did a lot of detective work and came as close as we could to making it look the way it did back then."

The scene grounds include lush grass, a colorful rose garden and several large trees that provide shade over an array of benches.

Docents in Victorian clothes greet guests on the grounds and conduct tours of the two-story house. There are hardwood floors throughout, and an 1894 Square grand piano resides in the parlor, which was used for special occasions only.

There are large windows with panoramic views of the garden from most of the downstairs. The doctors' office has a large wooden desk on wheels with built-in shelves and more than 100 compartments. It originally belonged to a local woman who was a suffragist and used the desk as a mobile office.

Among the vast number of old medical instruments displayed in the office is a now-rusty amputation saw.

Next to the office is the master bedroom, completely furnished with a Victorian-era bed, dresser and hair ornaments, which were popular in the 1800s.

"We wanted every room to look as if someone is living in it, and nothing in the house dates after 1904," Meyer said. "There are no ropes preventing the public from taking a real close look at the stuff. You really feel like you're in someone's house."

The kitchen has many original gadgets and a huge, black wood-burning stove, circa 1894. There are heavy iron pots and pans along with a large turkey-feather fan on the wall that was used to air out the kitchen when it got too hot. The adjacent pantry holds a tall wooden icebox.

Those who hate housework may actually think it's not so bad after checking out the house-cleaning tools in use back then. There's a carpet beater and a large bucket with a scrubbing board. Nearby is a small iron that required frequent reheating on the stove.

The dining room has an elaborate marble fireplace, the home's only source of heat. There's an old phone on the wall and a glass case with a collection of vintage china. One gets the feeling that someone recently had a meal there.

Upstairs is a child's room with Victorian dolls, toys, a crib and books from 1837. Next to it is the exhibit room, where you can purchase photos and historical books of Glendale. The entire top floor was an attic until the house was remodeled in 1889.

The Doctors' House has several exhibits throughout the year; this month's features quilts, including samples by quilt makers from all over the state. "We've set it up so that each room in the house has a quilt representing a different time period," Meyer said. "They're amazing pieces of work."

After visiting the Doctors' House, perhaps you can stroll over to Brand Park's Japanese tea house and garden. Or you can have a picnic at the park, which has plenty of grassy areas and a baseball field.

BE THERE

Doctors' House Museum, 1601 W. Mountain Ave., Glendale. Free tours are offered by the Glendale Historical Society on Sundays from 2-4 p.m., and the quilt exhibit will last through the end of September. Information: 242-7447.

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