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Verdugo Views: Niece's memories of life at El Miradero

July 02, 2010

Austeene George Cooper Watkins, niece of Mary Louise Brand, grew up at El Miradero, the estate built by L.C. Brand, but little is known of her childhood years here in Glendale.

L.C. Brand was a powerful force in Glendale in the early 1900s. He brought the Pacific Electric line here and was involved in many aspects of city life. He left his estate to the city, for use as a library and park.

Watkins was born into the George family of Houston, Texas, before 1890 and was 11 when her mother died. Mary Louise Brand traveled to Houston to dispose of her sister's home and businesses, then returned to Los Angeles with her orphaned niece.


At the time, the Brands were still living at 607 Park View St., overlooking Westlake Park (now MacArthur Park). They soon began building their new home, El Miradero, in the hills above Glendale. It was finished in 1904, and just before they moved, Mary Louise Brand hosted a farewell dance for her niece.

A Feb. 26, 1904 Los Angeles Times society article noted that L.C. Brand's sister, Ada Stocker, was one of the many guests at the party.

Watkins was still a young girl when she moved to the new house. She recalled life at El Miradero in a Dec. 19, 1971, Los Angeles Herald Examiner clipping, provided by her granddaughter, Christy Hastings, of Arizona.

"Its architecture is unique and was patterned after the East Indian buildings constructed by that government for the Chicago World's Fair," Watkins said.

[Editor's Note: it was the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893].

The contractor and architect was Nathaniel Dryden, husband of L.C. Brand's sister, Helen.

Watkins described her uncle L.C. Brand in glowing terms.

"My uncle had already founded and was successfully managing the Title Guarantee and Trust Company. Having purchased a good portion of the present city of Glendale, he gave it lights, power and gas and prevailed upon a close friend, Henry Huntington, to bring the Big Red Cars of the Pacific Electric Railway to Glendale. The cars ran up the center of the 120-foot-wide boulevard (Brand). Uncle had previously donated the right of the way for the street."

Watkins recalled her life at El Miradero.

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