Rock solid

Landmark designation in hand, homeowners seek property tax deduction to maintain their historic home.

August 04, 2010|By Joyce Rudolph,
(Raul Roa/News-Press )

Owners of a historic home in Burbank with old Glendale ties have taken steps to make sure it remains a showcase for years to come.

Known as the Rock House, the home was built in 1922 at 902 E. Olive Ave. in Burbank, and recently became the first residence in the city to be designated as a landmark.

The original owner, Orlando C. Lane, whose family moved to Burbank in 1889 and later to Glendale, attended schools in both cities, according to the "Burbank Community Book."

Lane became a prominent businessman who acquired a dealership called the Ford Agency in 1912. He sold the company and retired in 1923.

The home was sold to the second owners in 1968, and in 2004 Gregory Rehner and Kirk Solomon bought it. The kitchen and two bathrooms were renovated, and the landscape was replanted with drought-tolerant California natives.


The outside walls — the hallmark architectural element of the house — are made of river rock from Tujunga Creek.

One of their major goals with the landscaping was to soften the rocks of the structure and walls surrounding it, Solomon said.

No changes were made to the original structure, but additions made by former owners were removed, he added. Gone are the enclosed patio and wood shed built in 1952.

"We actually brought the property back to its original footprint," he said.

The interior, which is just short of 1,500 square feet, has been restored using a combination of new materials and refurbishing some of the original features, Solomon said.

"We don't have a lot of information about what it looked like so we tried to figure out how to stylize it to be reflective of the architectural period without drawings or photographs of what the original house looked like," he said.

In November, the Burbank City Council declared it the first residential landmark in the city.

"We have other buildings like City Hall and the Post Office, which are on the National Register of Public Places," said city planner Michael Forbes. "The Rock House is considered a Historical Structure of Merit because of the river rock architecture. This house is one of only a handful of buildings in the city that uses that unique river rock."

It's also one of the few remaining homes from the 1920s that is in its original condition, he added.

"That designation stays with that property even if it's sold, and any future modifications to the house would have to be reviewed by the Heritage Commission," Forbes said.

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