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Keeping up the house

Residents join historical society in celebrating anniversary of Doctor's House move to Brand Park.

September 20, 2010|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com
  • A group of walkers celebrate the 30th anniversary of the moving of the historic Doctor's House by retracing the route through the streets of Glendale on Sunday.
A group of walkers celebrate the 30th anniversary of the… (Tim Berger/News-Press )

Community members celebrated one of Glendale's remaining Victorian houses in a unique fashion on Sunday afternoon.

The Doctor's House, now in Brand Park, was moved from East Wilson Avenue in the middle of the night in September 1980 after being threatened with demolition the previous year. The move was the coming-out party for the Glendale Historical Society, and in celebration of the event, about a dozen people walked the five-mile path Sunday afternoon with a small wooden house in a red wagon.

The house, aptly named because of its history of housing prominent early Glendale physicians, was also owned by silent-screen icon Nell Shipman for a period of time. For the anniversary, the society installed new exhibits to memorialize the doctors and recreate Shipman's bedroom on the second floor of the house.

"It was a labor of love," said Elaine Wilkerson, secretary of the Glendale Historical Society. "For the 30th anniversary, we needed to breathe fresh life into the house."

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Some of the original volunteers who helped move the house joined those who walked the route on the Doctor's House grounds to view the new exhibit and participate in the historical society's annual meeting.

Marie Luft, the first president of the Glendale Historical Society who stepped down from her post after a year to manage the five-year process of moving and restoring the building, traveled down from Portland, Ore., for the event.

"They've created a living, breathing house," Luft said. "It's marvelous that the exhibits give tribute to volunteers who made this possible. It has voices unlike a traditional museum, and that makes it unique."

John LoCascio, current president of the Glendale Historical Society, was pleased with the turnout for the celebration, especially the number of people who were part of the original group of volunteers.

"After working on the exhibits and learning about all the people who put the work into the house initially, I feel like I know them," LoCascio said. "Now that I'm meeting many of them for the first time, it's like I'm just seeing them again, and that's the power of this house."

The historical society hopes to draw additional traffic to the house with a kiosk outside the gates to educate passersby.

LoCascio also wants to work with other local groups to educate the community about the history of Glendale, not just the Doctor's House.

The museum has around 1,500 visitors every year, including school groups.

The celebration and renovation was funded by the society's budget and membership fees, as well as funds raised by the annual house tour held each October.

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