A Buyer’s, Seller’s & Owner’s Guide
If you believe it’s the finer touches that make a house a home this Guide to Whittier’s Historic Homes is for you.
At Classic Homes of Whittier we celebrate the history and historic homes of Whittier CA by presenting an illustrated timeline of its history and of its historic landmark homes. We also offer information about historic preservation and details about the Mills Act property tax benefits available to buyers and current owners of historic properties.
Founded as a Quaker Colony in the 1880’s Whittier was master planned – a gridiron plan oriented around the primary intersection of Greenleaf and Philadelphia Streets was designed with lots designated for residential, commercial, educational, religious and recreational uses. Twenty acres were set aside for Whittier College.
Today, the four Historic Districts of Whittier offer a panorama of richly detailed architectural styles that marry eclecticism, practicality, beauty, and livability. From quintessential Craftsman bungalows, jewel-box Queen Annes and elegant Tudors to Spanish and American Colonial Revivals – the classic homes of Whittier reflect the diversity of styles popular with Southern California’s pioneers during the “Golden Age of Expansion” from the late 1800’s to the mid 1940’s. These period-perfect time capsules are testament to how a well-designed house is a timeless home and can wonderfully serve the needs of twenty-first century families. We hope you enjoy your visit to Classic Homes of Whittier.
As of 2013 the City of Whittier had identified 1,540 properties generally constructed prior to 1941 that it felt might be architecturally important. A survey conducted for the City established that 1,024 of those properties, many located within Whittier’s four Historic Districts, were examples of the following styles: Craftsman (515), Spanish Colonial Revival (186), American Colonial Revival (170), Folk Victorian (77), Mission Revival (39), Queen Anne (23), American Foursquare (7), Mediterranean Revival (7).
Historic Districts of Whittier
Central Park Historic District -Late 19th to mid 20th century
Whittier’s Central Park Historic District features eleven Whittier Historic Landmark Homes, plus the Historic Root Apartments -1917, that surround Central Park on Washington Ave., Hadley St. and Friends Ave. – including the Charles Sutherland House -1893, the Sheirdan House – circa 1895, and the Thornburgh House -1905, along with other historic landmark examples of architectural home styles popular in Whittier during that period including: a Queen Anne Victorian -1901; a Dutch Colonial Revival -1900, and an American Colonial Revival -1895.
The Central Park Historic District is comprised of approximately 98 parcels and incorporates three churches, a post office and the historic Whittier Women’s Club, now the Red Cross building at Bailey and Friends. See the large map here.
Hadley-Greenleaf Historic District- Late 19th to mid 20th century
The Hadley/Greenleaf Historic District features fifteen Whittier Historic Landmark Homes and the Historic Elizabeth Apartments, all built between 1904 and 1926. They include: the Craftsman style Stokes/Sullens House -1907; the Craftsman style Chaffey House -1910; the 1916 Tudor style Baldwin/Hadley House and the 1926 Batson House (selected Design House of the Year in 1998 by the Whittier Historical Society). More than 190 properties were surveyed in the most recent study. They include examples of a variety of architectural styles including: Victorian cottages and historic Spanish and Mediterranean revival homes. The predominant style is the Craftsman bungalow. The Hadley/Greenleaf Historic District is bounded by Greenleaf Ave. to the west, Broadway St. to the north, Hadley St. to the south and Painter Avenue to the east. See the large map here.
College Hills Historic District – 1923 to 1959
The College Hills Historic District includes homes nearby Whittier College along the south side of Bailey St., on Ridge Rd, Philadelphia St., Bryn Mawr Way, Hillside Lane and Worsham Dr. College Hills was the first planned hillside development in the City of Whittier. Over the years it has maintained its character as a district of architecturally unique upscale homes with distinctive layouts and designs. Home styles include: Spanish Revival, Colonial Revival, Mission Revival, Tudor and California Ranch. One of the only two Historic Landmark homes in College Hills, originally built by Shelley M. Stoody in 1926, was later owned by Frank and Hannah Nixon, parents of Richard M. Nixon, Whittier College, class of 1934.
Many homes in College Hills have panoramic views extending northwest to the downtown Los Angeles skyline as well as south and southwest to Rancho Palos Verdes, Orange County and out to Catalina Island.
The Earlham Historic District is a Whittier College neighborhood developed from 1903 through 1940 where many properties were associated with College administrators and faculty. Homes were designed in a variety of architectural styles including: Dutch Colonial Revival, Craftsman, and Queen Anne.
CITY OF WHITTIER – Fall, 2017 – HISTORIC PRESERVATION NEWS
Whittier College’s Guilford Hall Becomes a City of Whittier Historic Landmark & Receives Mills Act Approval – July 11 , 2017
By action of the City Council of the City of Whittier on July 11, 2017 Guilford Hall, formerly located on the Whittier College Campus at 13501 Earlham Dr., then relocated to 7306-7308 Comstock Ave., received Mills Act Designation and was awarded City of Whittier Historic Landmark status.
This is the adaptive reuse part of the Guilford-Penn Court multifamily residential development project developed by the non-profit Pasadena-based Heritage Housing Partners, and in large part was the result of the efforts of the dogged volunteers of the Whittier Conservancy who had been working to save Guilford Hall since Whittier College had it slated for the wrecking ball in 2008 – to be replaced by a parking lot. The Guilford Hall relocation request was approved by the City of Whittier Historic Resources Commission on April 8, 2015 – see a clip of the Guilford Hall relocation here.
The Guilford Hall Story
In 1903 Guilford Hall was located at 201-203 N. Bright Ave. and was a single-family residence owned by George Fensom, a Whittier carpenter. Seven years later the Queen Anne-style house was sold to Rev. Theophilus H. Woodward, former pastor of Trinity Methodist Church, San Francisco, who had relocated to Whittier with his wife, Hattie D. Woodward some years after the 1904 death of her father, Whittier pioneer and philanthropist, Rev. A.C. Hazzard.
Rev. A. C. Hazzard moved to Whittier from Northern California in1883 and established a ranch of nearly 1000 acres of fine orchard land including 150 acres planted in English walnuts and 25 acres in citrus fruits. Hattie’s brother, George L. Hazzard, had become a prominent Whittier insurance agent, Whittier College trustee and a trustee of the University of Southern California where A.C. Hazzard had endowed a student scholarship fund and a professorship chair. Reverend T.H. Woodward became president of the East Whittier Construction Co., and a citrus farmer. Following his death in 1922, the Bright Ave. home was owned by his wife Hattie until 1928 when title to the property was transferred to their son, Roy Woodward.
Dr. Raymond C. Thompson, an ObGyn physician, leased the Woodward residence in 1923 to be used for his medical practice. He lived in a small residence located on the south side of the property when in 1926 he partnered with his brother-in-law, Dr. William F. Kroener who had recently graduated from medical school. The two physicians soon became leaders in Whittier’s medical community.
By 1929 Dr. Thompson had become a member of the Board of Trustees of Whittier College, a position he held for the next thirty-six years. In 1939 he became a director of Quaker City Federal Savings and Loan. Also of note, Pat Nixon was Dr. Koerner’s patient when the Nixon’s daughter, Tricia, was born in Whittier in 1946, the year that Richard Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives. Up to the retirement of Dr. Thompson in 1952 he and Dr. Koerner were responsible for delivering more than 6,000 babies.
In 1931 the medical partners built a new medical office building on the property, now known as the Monterey Building, at 13019 Bailey St. and the Kroener family moved into the original home where they lived until 1938. Dr. Koerner’s son spent part of his childhood at the house on Bright St. and later, after graduating medical school, Dr. William F. Kroener, Jr. set up his medical practice at the Bailey St. building. He became chief of staff at PIH during the late 1960s and was a member of the Whittier City Council in the early 1960s.
In 1938 the Kroener House was acquired by Whittier College, moved to 13501 Earlham Dr., and after some remodeling it became Guilford Hall, a place where Whittier College could house its music department under the direction of the department’s chairman, the noted concert pianist Margaretha Lohmann, who had that year produced the first edition of the Whittier College Bach Festival of Music. The College continues to hold their annual Bach Festival, which is now the oldest collegiate Bach Festival west of the Mississippi. Although Guilford Hall was intended as a “temporary” home for the music department it was used by the department until 1961 when the college established a permanent music department building. Professor Lohmann taught piano on the first floor and music theory classes on the second floor. There were classrooms and rehearsal rooms.
Ruth Haroldson had joined the music department in 1932 to become professor of violin and also taught orchestral conducting. She had graduated from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago at eighteen and on full scholarship went on to the Juilliard Institute of Music in New York where she studied under Mischa Mishakoff, the formar concertmaster for Arturo Toscanini, who was at that time the conductor of the New York Philharmonic.
During her first year at Whittier College Professor Haroldson established the school’s orchestra, initially named the Whittier College Community Orchestra, and by the end of the 1930s renamed the Whittier Symphony. The orchestra offered free concerts and played at venues throughout southern California. It was incorporated in 1954 and renamed the Rio Hondo Symphony. After the orchestra received inter-community status it received funding from neighboring communities including Pico Rivera and Santa Fe Springs and from Los Angeles County. Ruth Haroldson retired from her post as conductor of the Rio Hondo Symphony following the end of the 1964-65 season. She continued as a music professor at Whittier College until her retirement in 1971.
After the music department moved to its new building in 1961 Guilford Hall was used for storage and as a dormitory during the 1960s, and as a mail room from 1973 to 2008 when it was slated for demolition. Now thanks to the joint efforts of members of the Whittier Conservancy, Heritage Housing Partners and the City of Whittier Guilford Hall has been restored to productive use and has a very bright future.
Orin Jordan House, 8310 S. Comstock Ave. – listed in the National Registor of Historic Places, the California Register of Historic Resources and as Whittier Historic Landmark #13, was sold on July 6, 2017
Whittier’s historic Orin Jordan House was sold on July 6, 2017 for $642,000 after its recent restoration. Prior to the restoration it had been purchased for $255,000 on September 25, 2012. The Orin Jordan House is one of only three Whittier Historic Landmark Homes to be listed in the U. S. National Register of Historic Places – the others are the Pio Pico Casa and the Jonathan Bailey House.
The home and barn built by Orin Jordan and a hired carpenter, 1888-1890, might not have survived demolition had it not been listed in 1980 in both the National Register of Historic Places and in the California Register of Historical Resources followed by its 1991 listing as Whittier Historic Landmark #13. These designations recognize this Victorian period ranch home as a significant example of the late 1880s farm and small town houses built during the early development of the Whittier area’s citrus culture.
Who was Orin Leland Jordan?
Orin Jordan (1848-1917), a Kansas wheat farmer, was one of the early settlers of Whittier, arriving in 1888 with his wife, Eliza, their six children and two cows one year after the Whittier Colony townsite was laid out. Of modest means, he purchased 24 acres on the south side of the County Road (now known as Whittier Blvd.) between present day Greenleaf Ave. and Comstock Ave. and planted oranges and walnuts on most of the property.
First built was a small barn in which the family resided until their house was completed. Recognizing the new and growing interest of orange culture in Southern California Jordan entered into a partnership with Ed Bacon to contract with later arriving farmers in the planting of citrus groves. Many of the first orange groves of the Whittier area were planted by this partnership. The citrus packing house industry followed and Jordan was also connected with its early development.
In 1923 the Jordan children, heirs to the 24 acre Jordan farm, responding to the continuing development of both Whittier Blvd and Greenleaf Ave., had a subdivision map created and filed as Tract 6104 which divided their property into lots for both business and residential uses. In 1926 the Orin Jordan house was moved intact approximately 300 feet southwest on the farm to its present 8310 S. Comstock Ave. location. In 1928 the house was sold to Lee and Lassie Whitaker. Lassie T. Whitaker remained as its resident until 1978.
About the Orin Jordan House
Architecturally, the Orin Jordan house, with its ornate gables and roof lines, retains all the grace and character of its original construction. The original house was a 9-room, two-story dwelling of wood frame construction with five rooms and a pantry on the ground floor and four rooms on the upper floor.
Rectangular windows are in centers of both upper and-lower rooms. Its front porch has two paneled entrance doors with square glass windows, one into the parlor, the other into the living room. The back porch is enclosed, with entrances into the kitchen and sunroom. Interior woodwork is original and of simple design. Sliding double doors close off the parlor from the living room. A pantry off the kitchen has original cabinets with curved flour bins beneath the work area. A built-in china closet in the dining room has a pass-through to the kitchen.
A stairway is enclosed on the east wall of the living room and has entrance doors to both the living room and dining room. All of the porches on the property were restored and rehabilitated to their original form. In addition, the French doors leading from the dining room to the side porch were re-instailed in their original manner.