When our long convoy pulled into the hilly drive Mr. Herman met us in front of the house. In the parking lot he went over the properties past history. The graying, but well built owner, explained that the San Fernando Valley was discovered by a Spanish exploring party led by Governor Gaspar de Portola in 1769. Here they discovered an Indian settlement at the southeast corner of the present intersection of Balboa and Ventura Boulevards in Encino. Eventually the Indian villages became swallowed up in the early Spanish land grant ranches.
Sometime in 1865, the Los Angeles Farming and Milling Company bought the majority of the San Fernando Valley from Spanish land grant holdings. In 1909, General Harrison Gray Otis, the publisher of The Los Angeles Times, and four other distinguished men bought the land from the Los Angeles Farming and Milling Company. After the property was divided between them, General Otis owned the 550 acre parcel that eventually became Tarzana. General Otis then built a home of poured concrete on a knoll. He lived on the estate until his death in 1917.
In December 1918, Edgar Rice Burroughs was living in Oak Park, Illinois, where he had been involved with the reserve militia. Now that the war had ended our favorite author began making plans to move back to California. In February 1919 the Burroughs family arrived in Los Angeles where they eventually rented a furnished home at 1729 North Wilton Avenue. On March 1 Edgar Rice Burroughs purchased the Otis estate and the details of its purchase was reported in the Sunday Times on March 2, 1919. With the estate Edgar Rice Burroughs acquired a small herd of registered Angora goats, living in the hills and deeper canyons. Edgar Rice Burroughs had plans to continue raising goats in these upper areas while using the lower ground for his Berkshire hogs.
|Edgar Rice Burroughs|
After the little history lesson Mr. Herman went on to tell about the 1919 construction of Edgar Rice Burroughs' writing quarters which in addition contained a three car garage, and a ballroom with balcony for motion picture screenings. In the same year Edgar Rice Burroughs also had built a large swimming pool which was cut out by hand in solid rock. The pool, which was dry upon our visit, was also designed as an irrigation reservoir for Edgar Rice Burroughs' olive grove. Almost all of the trees had been moved to the El Caballero Country Club which was established in 1956. Edgar Rice Burroughs also constructed a series of interconnecting fish ponds, but these to were dry on our visit.
Mr. Herman kindly took our large group, supposed to be fifty but I judged more, into his home and gave a tour of the insides. He explained the changes that had been made since Edgar Rice Burroughs' ownership, and the ones that would follow. I really enjoyed the tour, and found Mr. Herman's narration most interesting.
James Michael Moody