Taylor House at Heritage Park
The Taylor House at Heritage Park (3510 Cameron Avenue) is a 1912 Craftsman style farmhouse that has been restored to its historical beauty in the community. The Taylor House currently serves as the home of the West Covina Rose Float Foundation and the Friends of the Taylor House. Both organizations are active in the preservation of the Taylor House and Heritage Park.
Guests are welcome to visit the Taylor House on the Second Sunday of the month (January through November) for tours from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Private group tours for organizations can be scheduled at flexible times by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations are greatly appreciated. Closed on holidays. Visit the Taylor House Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/taylorhousecraftsmanhome .
History of the Taylor House at Heritage Park
The original site of Taylor House, located north of Workman Avenue and Orange Avenue was part of lands acquired by John Rowland and William Workman from the Mission San Gabriel in 1852 and was known as the Ranch La Puente.
The Ranch was later divided by the partners with Workman taking that portion which now encompasses the western action of West Covina. In 1875, due to bankruptcy, his holdings went to Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin who held it until after the turn of the twentieth century when he began selling "subdivisions". The parcel of land which contained the House site was part of his "fourth subdivision".
By 1911 the land was owned by Emma L. Godfrey and her husband, F. A. Godfrey and on January 6th of that year they sold a portion of it to J.J. Conner. Conner and his wife, Kate, then sold the land to William F. Noyes and his wife, Stella, on October 18, 1912 and the mortgage was held by one Joseph Miller of Long Beach. On September 19, 1913, Mr. and Mrs. Noyes sold ten acres to Almo R. Taylor and his wife, Laura. It was they who built the Taylor House.
The Taylors, along with their neighbors, the Roots, Langs, and E. Machida, deeded portions of their lands on June 6, 1914 to Los Angeles County for "public road and highway purposes".
The next recorded incident concerning the land and house occurred on November 13, 1928 when the Superior Court of Los Angeles County terminated the Joint tenancy of Laura Taylor due to her death on June 28, 1928. Then on May 20, 1933, Almo Taylor put the title of the property in the name of his second wife, M. Genevieve Taylor.
On May 23, 1957 the Taylors finally sold all their remaining property to Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Morley who raised their family in the house for over thirty years and then gave the House to the City in 1992 when it was then moved to its present site in Heritage Garden Park.
The history of the parkland is more difficult to trace, but it is known that Leland Mekeel purchased it sometime in 1951 from a gentleman named Fredricks.
Horses were boarded on it for a number of years and in 1970 Mr. Mekeel sold the land to Covina Unified School District for a proposed middle school. Because the school district changed its plans the 15-acre site was sold to the City of West Covina in 1976.
The Taylor House, itself, is a Craftsman Style home, the architecture that was representative of the Arts and Craft Movement. This artistic movement dates from the 1880's in England as well as other parts of Europe and is a response to the Industrial Revolution and its machine-made goods and to the extremes of the gingerbread and fussiness of the Victorian era.
In the United States this style is variously known as Prairie, Mission or Craftsman Style and can be recognized by the sense of space and openness with an emphasis on horizontal line as opposed to the many storied homes of the past. Quality materials often found on site or native to the region were used in construction. The building was closely related to its site by the use of both design and location. A fireplace was central to the interior design, as the hearth was believed to be central to the heart of family life as was the dining room. Heavy dark woodwork that was square and rustic was to be found throughout the home.
The Arts and Craft Movement was embraced by all segments of society. The wealthy had their homes designed by such well-known architects as Frank Lloyd Wright of Greene and Greene. Low-income families could build their homes from kits purchased from Sears and Roebuck or Aladdin. The middle class turned to Gustav Stickley (1858 to 1942) and plans that were published by his magazine, The Craftsman. Those plans could be modified to meet particular requirements of the homeowner and be constructed by local builders with local materials.
Because the Taylor House is not a Greene and Greene designed home, nor does it appear to be a kit built bungalow it is probably a "true Craftsman House" in that it was most likely built from plans obtained from Stickley's magazine that were printed between 1901 and 1916.
In February 2005, the West Covina Rose Float Foundation (WCRF) leased the Taylor House and surrounding gardens from the City of West Covina with the intention of completing the restoration of the Taylor House and to make the Taylor House the 'official' home of the Rose Float Foundation. Later that year, Frank Scalfaro, President and Chris Freeland, Executive Vice President of the WCRF approached Mount San Antonio College's President to see if the college would consider a partnership with the WCRF in structuring a class around the design for the restoration of the Taylor House. The college was quick to recognize the opportunity to create this "real life" experience for its students and even brought one of their professors, with an expertise in Craftsman Homes out of retirement, Karlene Morris. After months of research, the Mt. SAC students presented the WCRF a comprehensive and historically accurate design plan for the restoration of the Taylor House, which included paint, flooring, furniture, and other recommendations. In addition, Brian Scott and his students of Mt. SAC Landscape Architecture Program provided a complete re-design of the gardens surrounding the house.
In April 2006, the WCRF approached the City of West Covina with Mt. SAC's Interior Design and Landscape Architecture Plans to seek their support to provide the necessary funding to enact Mt. SAC's designs and to make the home available for the public to enjoy. Equipped with funding provided by the City of West Covina, the dedication of many WCRF volunteers and the collaborative support of local contractors, the WCRF officially opened the Taylor House to the public on September 30, 2007. In attendance to celebrate this joyous "homecoming" with the WCRF was Mr. Bob Curtis, grandson of Almo Taylor and Nora and Bridget Morley.
The WCRF would like to thank Abel Hellou Homes, McNeill Security, Dunn Edwards Paint and many WCRF volunteers who provided not only significant financial support; but, many dedicated hours to complete the restoration of the Taylor House.
Submitted by Anne Gundel, Historical Society President 2000-2001 and Chris Freeland, WCRF Executive Vice President (2005-2008).