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Verdugo Views: Woman led drive to form Cottage Grove Historic District

February 25, 2011|By Katherine Yamada

When Ute Baum went house hunting in 1976, she fell in love with a very old house on Cottage Grove Avenue. It was the only wood-sided dwelling on a very short street in the Adams Hill area. The others were stucco structures from the 1920s.

Very little had changed since the houses had been built, and Baum liked that. As time passed, she wished she could do something to preserve her street.

But she didn’t buy her old house with the idea of it being historic or leading a preservation drive.

“I just liked the neighborhood,” she said.

Baum came here from Germany with her parents in 1956. She enrolled at Glendale High, graduating with the Class of 1958. She moved away for a while, then returned and bought the house on Cottage Grove.


Describing herself as “very outgoing,” Baum quickly got to know everyone in the 14 houses on her street. In 1997, when the city of Glendale began redeveloping the Adams Square area, Baum participated in a planning event.

There she encountered Arlene Vidor, who was active in the Glendale Historical Society, the group that later spearheaded the drive to form historic districts.

Baum and Vidor both attended Adams Hill neighborhood association meetings, and when the subject of forming a Cottage Grove historic district eventually came up, Baum thought, “I can lead the way. I know my neighbors. The street is small and cohesive; how cool it would be if this was preserved.”

“It wasn’t an easy task. It took 10 years,” she recalled. “We had a high percentage of houses that qualified, but with only 14 houses on the street, we had to have nearly everyone sign on.”

There were several steps to the application process. One was to gather information on the neighborhood. Baum went off to see George Ellison at Special Collections and combed through old phone books.

“They were such a wealth of information,” she said. “They listed names, addresses, occupation and members of family. I gleaned a lot from those books.”

From there, she went to the city’s planning department to get plat maps showing how the subdivision was divided into streets and lots, and then to Los Angeles’ main library to look at other sources.

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