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A Return to Golden Age of Golden Hill

September 30, 1997|JERRY HICKS

How many of you have lived in Orange County long enough to remember fields of wild mustard with their colorful yellow blooms dotting our cities?

Jack Cadman, who is 79, certainly can. He was just a boy when his father and grandfather began selling lots in Fullerton on what is now known as Golden Hill. Its surrounding slopes were filled with mustard blooms, which is how the development got its name.

With many of its homes built in the 1920s, Golden Hill is considered a historic part of the city. Though the area is now just a few blocks west of downtown Fullerton, many at the time considered Cadman's father and grandfather foolish for building so far away from the city. No one would have predicted that after World War II, the city would grow well past Golden Hill's borders.

You can see its varied architecture yourself this weekend. The YWCA of North Orange County is sponsoring a home and garden tour of five of the homes in Golden Hill. This is the 57th annual home tour for the YWCA, an event that is its principal fund-raiser.

Tickets to tour the homes (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) require a $20 donation to the Y. There's a $7.50 charge for the outdoor luncheon. Reservations for the luncheon are required with a Wednesday afternoon cutoff at (714) 871-4488.

Cadman, who was a criminalist for the county Sheriff's Department for 28 years, has reason to recall fond memories of Golden Hill's development. Fern Drive, which runs through the heart of it, was named for his mother. Nearby Lois Lane was named for one of his aunts. (And yes, many people mistakenly believe the name has a Superman connection.)

Cadman's grandson goes to nearby Fern Drive Elementary School, a namesake of the boy's great-grandmother. And Golden Hill Elementary School is just west of the area. Cadman recalls that barnstorming pilots used to land on the flat ground there, before the school and surrounding homes were built.

For those interested in the area's past, his wife, Evelyn Cadman, who used to work with Fullerton Library's historical collection, will be showing aerial photographs depicting the early stages of Golden Hill's development.

"It was a wonderful place to grow up," Jack Cadman said. "Many of my best friends today are people I spent time with there in my youth."

Cadman says he's proud his father and grandfather did not allow Golden Hill to become a development where every home appears the same. In many instances, they sold only the lots, so buyers could build homes to their own tastes.

"Eclectic mix" is the term the YWCA uses. After driving through the area, I can see that it fits. The five homes on the tour comprise styles known as Santa Barbara Mission, Spanish colonial, California ranch, American colonial and Mission revival.

Golden Hill is just a few blocks north of Malvern Avenue, between Euclid Avenue and Harbor Boulevard. The homes are all within the 500 to 600 block of Fern Drive and in easy walking distance of each other.

Linda Symonds, executive director of the YWCA North Orange County, says many people take these annual tours "to see how other people live, or to get some ideas for fixing up their own homes. But I think many will go to Golden Hill who have an interest in how Fullerton developed as a city."

Home Homework: People are showing a growing interest in learning the historical backgrounds of their homes, says Cathy Thomas, who runs the Launer Local History Room at the Fullerton Public Library.

"People will come in here to look up previous owners in old directories, so they can try to contact them to learn more about their houses," she says.

I wondered aloud if some of these people weren't just trying to learn about any past damage to the home. But Thomas says that's not what stirs the people who come see her. "They really care about a sense of history for their property. Some have even brought me copies of old photographs they've been able to obtain from previous owners."

About the Cause: The home tours annually bring in close to $15,000 net profit for the YWCA. The organization needs every spare dollar. The Y is running four programs right now--one for homeless and abused women, a child development unit for babies and toddlers of low-income families, a youth employment service, and a breast cancer awareness program for uninsured women.

Executive Director Symonds said the YWCA houses women for as long as 18 months. All of them come from another shelter.

"We're the next step in their recovery," she said. "They are required to be employed, or get a job within the first 30 days." The facility can take eight women at a time, and there's almost always a waiting list.

Wrap-Up: Maybe some of you remember the great Newport Beach yacht murders trial in 1947. Wealthy William Overell and his wife, Beulah, were beaten to death aboard their yacht in Newport Harbor. Then the boat was blown up in an effort to cover up the murders.

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