When the Doctors House in Glendale, California, was set for demolition in 1977, city residents rallied long and hard to save the storied Queen Anne home. Finally, the developer who owned the house agreed to sell it to the city for $1, provided it could be moved off the property in time for the developer’s construction project to begin.
In her book, Memories of the Doctors House 1979-1984, A Labor of Love, author Marie Luft details the struggles and successes of saving the home. She writes, “Faced with the prospect of fundraising on such a scale, our ad-hoc committee decided to form a permanent nonprofit organization.
The Glendale Historical Society was thus reborn on October 24, 1979; I was its first president…” After months of delays, intense negotiations with the city and detailed planning, the house was moved to its current location in Bryant Park.
Truly Authentic TLC
Located in an upstairs alcove is the c. 1873 Wheeler & Wilson sewing machine and oak sewing table. The sewing implements, including the c. 1820 cast- metal bird-shaped sewing clamp, were donated by the Fell-White family.
With the same intense dedication they showed during the process to save the home, teams of volunteers worked tirelessly to put the home back together (it was sawn in two—literally—for the move), restored the interiors and decorated it in period style.
To the people behind the restoration, staying true to the home’s roots was paramount. The restoration of the Doctors House hinged on authenticity, even if it meant delaying a project or raising additional funds. If an acquired piece was found to be from the wrong decade, it was returned and a correctly dated piece was found to replace it.
Made with sugared berries and gilded cones, the square wreath on the front door is an almost exact replica of one that would have been displayed in Victorian times.
That same drive for authenticity continues today. The home’s current director, Sonia Montejano, is charged with its care and upkeep as well as fundraising and other duties. The annual holiday house tour is the highlight of the year for both volunteers and visitors. “This past year we were lucky to get Gerard Marin, who is a Hollywood set designer. He did research on Victorian décor and based the Christmas decorations on his findings. The only thing he compromised on was the electric lighting.” Marin and a dedicated team of volunteers set about embellishing the home in genuine period style. “We didn’t want to overdecorate the entire house, because the Victorians displayed their grander arrangements in the parlor for visitors to see,” Montejano explains.
By Rebecca Ittner
Photography by Mark Tanner