Letters to America’s Suburb.com

“Isn’t it sad that all we have is a web site to see our childhoods. The San Fernando Valley isn’t anymore.”

—Peggy Shannon Stanley

“Kevin: Got a question for you: Do you know where I could get information and/or pictures of the Holloway Building in Van Nuys (located on Sylvan Street), where the first municipal court in the Valley was located?”

—Richard Kolostian

I’ve found no pictures or information on the Holloway Building. Can anyone help?

“Hi Kevin! A few years ago you and I exchanged e-mail about some property at the intersection of Barham and Cahuenga (near Universal Studios)…I’m in LA for a high school reunion and this morning had some time to snoop around. I was moving along the fence with camera in hand, when a security guy in a car arrived and asked me, “Can I help you?” I told him I had once been on the property in 1977 and saw statues, grottoes, etc. I asked what was there.

“He told me that he’s in there all the time chasing out bums and trespassers, etc., and says there are no statues left. Just concrete foundations of what must have been an old mansion or estate in the 20’s or 30’s. I still think it may be the Monkey Island attraction! Anyway, I was hoping perhaps that I could sneak in and get some photos, but no dice. The place is patrolled far too well. He told me that the local residents are always calling to report people jumping the fences, too.

—Wes Clark

I’m told that corner of the Universal land used to have a house on it. Monkey Island opened in 1938 not too far away at 3300 Cahuenga Boulevard. Filmmaker Warren Miller describes a visit to Monkey Island on the Observing the Valley page.

“Dear Mr. Roderick, in your research for the book, did you ever come across the location of the ranch that Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman had in Northridge shortly after World War II? The name of the ranch was Yearling Row (inspired by their films “Kings Row” and “The Yearling”). Mr. Reagan was also part owner of the Northridge Horse Farm, and I’m trying to determine its exact location. He was in business there with a man called Nino Pepitone. Do you know of someone who is familiar with the history of Valley-area ranches? The reason I ask is because I’m at work on a book and documentary film about Reagan’s Hollywood years. Both projects are based on my Washington Post story called “Rehearsals for a Lead Role” that appeared in 2001. I would appreciate any leads. Thank you. Kindest regards.”
— John Meroney

I have yet to nail down the location of a Reagan ranch in Northridge; Ronald and Nancy, his second wife, had a Yearling Row Ranch in the Malibu hills when he was elected governor of California in 1966.

Northridge Farms I can help you with. It was a thoroughbred breeding and racing farm that lined the west side of Reseda Boulevard north from Lassen Street, up the hill behind the Marwyck horse ranch on Devonshire Street owned by actress Barbara Stanwyck and, after her, by actor Jack Oakie. All of those sites are gone now except for the Oakie house, currently the property of the University of Southern California.<br
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I can tell you that Ronald Reagan and Nino Peptione both participated with other actors and horsemen in mock fox hunts held in the Encino hills under the auspices of the West Hills Hunt Club. Here is a story from the Los Angeles Times in 1950 (PDF file.)

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