Verdugo Views: Relocated home unearths wealth of nostalgia

Not too long ago, Robin Fey, who lives in the Casa Verdugo area east of Brand Boulevard discovered some unusual information about her 1915 Craftsman-style house — It had been built somewhere else.

After hearing that it was built at the corner of Louise Street and Dryden Avenue and later moved to its current location, Fey asked her neighbor Sean Bersell, director of the Glendale Historical Society, to help her research the house’s history.

Fey and Bersell (who loves to solve history puzzles) delved into old maps, city directories and vintage photographs and discovered that, yes, the house had originally stood at 1107 N. Louise.

It was moved several blocks north in 1925 to make way for an apartment building, now known as the Louise-Dryden Apartments.

“I have long admired the architecture of the Louise-Dryden building, which is on the Glendale Register of Historic Resources,” Bersell wrote in an August 2016 email detailing their discoveries. “The name is a perfect blend of the names of the streets on which it is located; plus, it sounds like a glamorous movie star from the 1920s.”

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The duo found several photos online of the Louise-Dryden under construction in 1925. But that’s when their search got confusing.

While doing research in the Special Collections Room at the Glendale Public Library (before its closure for remodeling), Fey found clippings from the grand opening of the “Barbara Worth Apartments” at the corner of Louise and Dryden.

Now the question was: who was Barbara Worth, and why were the apartments named after her? Fey discovered that she was a fictional character, the heroine of a novel titled “The Winning of Barbara Worth.”

The novel, published in 1911, was written by Harold Bell Wright, one of the best-selling American authors of his time, according to Bersell.

Bersell described the book, set in the early 1900s, as the tale of an orphan girl adopted into a wealthy family in the Imperial Valley.

“She grows up to become a champion for the land and its people. The central conflict involves the effort to bring irrigation to the fertile but arid region, pitting the forces of greed in the form of a callous corporation from back East against the locals who seek to ensure that the reclamation project brings benefits to all the inhabitants and not just profits to a few,” Bersell wrote.

“In the midst of this, Barbara Worth must juggle the attentions of a cowboy and a dashing engineer,” Bersell continued. “In the end, of course, social responsibility triumphs over greed (it is, after all, a work of fiction).’’

He added, “Barbara Worth finds true love.”

In 1926, the book was made into a movie starring Vilma Banky and Ronald Colman and featuring Cary Grant in his first major role.

“The book and movie spawned attempts to capitalize on the romantic notions it evoked, much as ‘Ramona’ had done several decades earlier. There were Barbara Worth hotels, apartments, a cafe, a country club and even a grapefruit brand,” Bersell said.

He assumes the builder of the apartment house chose the name as an homage to the popular fictional heroine.

“But the name did not last long,” Bersell said.

Within a year, it became the Louise-Dryden Apartments.

A Barbara Worth Service Station opened at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Stocker Street in 1929, according to city directories. The following year, a Barbara Worth Market opened next door.

In 1938, the service station dropped the name, although it continued to operate for some time. The Barbara Worth Market is still in operation, making it one of the oldest continually operating markets in Glendale, Bersell said.

To the Readers:

Glendale native Jan Taylor emailed a question regarding Burchett Street. She has a friend whose last name is Burchett and he’d like to know the history behind the street’s name.

His Burchett great-grandfather roamed the West Coast in the late 1800s, building churches (most likely Baptist) up and down the area.

Taylor added that a church, now called "Central Avenue Church" stands at the corner of Central Avenue and Burchett and she’d like to find some history about when that church was built and by whom.

“I have spent several hours researching Glendale history,” she wrote. “The history section of the library is closed. Might you have any information or suggestions where I might look?”

Readers: If you have information about the Burchett street name, please contact me.

KATHERINE YAMADA can be reached at katherineyamada@gmail.com. or by mail at Verdugo Views, c/o Glendale News-Press, 202 W. First St., Second Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please include your name, address and phone number.

Copyright © 2017, Glendale News-Press

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