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Glendale’s Casa Verdugo & the Historical Society’s Home Tour

Sep 9, 2013

Imagine 2,500 hungry shriners walking through the door of your establishment and wanting to be satisfied?

The national shriner convention was held in Los Angeles in May, 1906, and thousands of shriners boarded the Red Car and headed for Glendale to dine at Casa Verdugo. The adobe that established this restaurant was constructed about 1865 by Fernando Sepulveda and his wife Rafaela Verdugo, daughter of José Maria Verdugo, the original grantee of Rancho San Rafael. The structure was called “Sepulveda Adobe.”

Leslie C. Brand and Henry E. Huntington purchased hundreds of acres of “what had been the famous and vast Rancho San Rafael, located in the foothills where Brand was developing the new community of Glendale.” (ParadiseLeased) On this land was Sepulveda Adobe that had “a commanding vista towards downtown Los Angeles.”

Huntington “arranged” for the Pacific Electric Railway to run right up Brand Avenue ending at a terminus station near the restaurant. Casa Verdugo opened its doors in 1905 and became an immediate success. Diners had the option of sitting in “the fireplace-warmed main sala with its thick adobe walls and old beamed ceiling festooned with strings of red peppers (or) al fresco settings under venerable pepper trees or vine-covered bowers.”

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In 1910, the Pacific Electric Railway terminated the restaurant’s lease, and the operators moved it right around the corner. One possible reason for the lease termination (it depends on which account you believe) was that the charismatic proprietress Piedad Yorba de Sowl, whose attention to detail and quality—with the food, as well as the entertainment, with even the Los Angeles Times writing that “visitors were given the royal treatment”—had made the restaurant such a popular favorite, had an explosive run-in with some bankers for refusing to accommodate their 500 wives. This incident escalated into a showdown with the property owners, none other than Pacific Electric Company. Even Henry Huntington was approached to mediate, but de Sowl was adamant and decided to open a new Casa Verdugo and her loyal followers were not far behind. (PEC could not have been happy when they simply replaced de Sowl and sought to keep the restaurant open only to learn that de Sowl had copyrighted the name “Casa Verdugo,” which she applied to her new establishment.) Postcards at that time spread the word about the new location with an off-kilter stamp that states in red ink: Casa Verdugo, Inc. New Location—Out Glendale Way.

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This home—a 1907 Mission Revival house designed by Los Angeles architect Charles E. Shattuck and later the residence for author Johnston McCulley, author of Zorro—will be one of five houses on the Glendale Historical Society‘s 2013 Home Tour.

Additionally, four other “distinctive houses located in one of Glendale’s earliest and most architectually diverse neighborhoods will be available for docent-led tours.” Access is available via car, but all the homes are within walking distance of each other.

To finish the day in style, guests can imagine what it was like to dine at Casa Verdugo while enjoying lunch the veranda (food available from the Border Grill Truck).

Glendale Historical Society’s 2013 Home Tour
Sunday, Sept. 29th, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Tour begins at Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale 91203
Tickets: TGHS members, $22; general, $32 (if purchased prior to 9/22)
Purchase options here
For complete info, visit GlendaleHistorical.org or call 818.242.7447

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Glendale, 1912; thanks to GatheringGardiners




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