Opening up the gates of El Miradero to explore the interesting history of Brand Park and Library in Glendale, CA.
El Miradero = Spanish for “the lookout”; a high place overlooking a wide view. This is the entrance to Brand Park and Library; an entrance to another time and place.
This statue represents an early ecology organization — The Green Cross. When the statue was on the mountain trail, before it was brought down into the park and cleaned up, people who saw it thought it was a statue of Joan of Arc being burned at the stake because of the firewood at the statue’s feet.
It was created in 1928 as a symbol of the deforestation that was taking place across the country at that time.
After a car crashed into the statue, it was dumped behind Brand’s Castle, and laid abandoned for 30 years. Hikers discovered it in an overgrown canyon in the mid-50′s reporting that the arm of Miss American Green Cross was missing. It was assumed that vandals had carried it off. In 1981 the monument was taken to the city maintenance yard where she remained for 10 more years ~ until Glendale Parks, Recreation and Community Services, along with the organization Glendale Beautiful, raised money to have her restored.
The Brand Library & Art Center opened to the public in 1956 in what was once known as Miradero, the beautiful home of Glendale pioneer Leslie C. Brand.
The library just recently reopened after a two-year, $10 million upgrade.
Leslie C. Brand was a real estate mogul from Missouri, with dreams of creating a grand, model city in the Los Angeles region. After setting his sights on Glendale, he quickly purchased a huge chunk of the San Fernando Valley and started to buy up land for the right of way for an extension of the Pacific Electric railway. He created subdivisions, a country club, banks, a water company, a Masonic Temple and laid out a grand boulevard named after himself of course.
The architecture is considered Saracenic, with crenellated arches, bulbous domes and minars combining characteristics of Spanish, Moorish, and Indian styles.
The solarium, which has gone through some changes over the years, now sheds light into where the libraries information desk and computer room are now located.
The mansion itself once featured ornate Victorian decoration within. Elaborate woodwork, frescoed ceilings, inlaid tile, hand-carved moldings and tasteful, though sumptuous Victorian furniture filled its expansive interiors.
After spending $60,000 on its construction, The Brands, their beloved dogs, and assorted relatives moved into “Miradero” in 1904. It quickly became the center of Glendale social life.
Hand-carved wooden columns frame a window in one of the rooms of the recently renovated Brand Library.
Glass Window Details
Pocket Door Hardware
There are long-standing reports of a ghost haunting the Brand Library. And it’s not just any ghost — it’s Mr. Brand himself. Employees and visitors have reported seeing him walking up the stairs amongst other areas.
The reception hall once contained an elaborate wood fireplace displaying the Brands’ coat of arms.
Michael Jackson would approve.
That’s Mr. Leslie C. Brand to you bitches.
Relationships? In 1891, during a brief residency in Galveston, Texas, Leslie ran off to Mexico to elope with an artistic, southern girl named Mary Louise. Later on while in his 50s, he met another woman, a former Ms. Nevada in her 20’s named Birdie Carpenter who soon became his mistress. When Birdie became pregnant, he ran off to Mexico to marry her — even though he was still very much married to Mary Louise. Their son, Lee, was born in 1922, and soon after came Jack (whose paternity Brand always questioned). Birdie lived with her children under the name, “Mrs. Lee Gordon,” and the children were given Gordon as their surname which Brand had picked out of a phone book. Douche!
Brand was diagnosed with cancer in 1924. He bequeathed 800 acres of land to the city of Glendale. He also promised Miradero itself and the 50 acres of land surrounding it to the city once Mary Louise passed on. His children were left with nothing.
When the end finally came in April of 1925, it was Mary Louise, not Birdie, who was by his side. His longtime business partner E.W. Sargent, took control of the businesses while Mary Louise settled into a quieter life at Miradero. She died in a car accident on one of her cherished automobile trips East in 1945. And Birdie? She lived a frugal life as a frumpy “widow,” dying in 1954 in a duplex on Brand Boulevard. How appropriate.
The Shoseian “Whispering Pine” Japanese Tea House, built in 1974 through combined efforts of the Sister Cities of Glendale and Higashi-Osaka, Japan is one of the few traditional Japanese Teahouses open to the public in the United States.
Nestled at the foot of the Verdugo Mountains beside a Koi pond in a charming Japanese-style garden setting, the Teahouse is a lovely little oasis after a hike in the hills surrounding the park.
Located behind the Teahouse, is the “Doctors House Museum” which is an authentically restored Queen Anne-Eastlake style home that was built around 1888. The two story house originally stood at 921 East Wilson Avenue in Central Glendale. It got its name after four different Glendale physicians owned it in succession.
Threatened with demolition in 1979, community activists organized to save it and formally incorporated The Glendale Historical Society on October 24, 1979.
Ice, ice [box] baby, too cold.
Yeah, we’ll take some of that ice Mr. Iceman.
The silhouette of an old sewing machine looks out towards the Brand family cemetery. The cemetery which includes the pyramid-shaped headstone of Leslie C Brand, his relatives and beloved pets, can be found behind a locked gate on one of the trails leading up the hillside behind the Doctor’s House.
Some dolls have a tea party in a small hidden room off the children’s bedroom on the second floor. Michael Jackson would approve.
Between 1917 and 1920, The Doctors House was the home of Nell Shipman, the multi-talented pioneer of the silent screen. What, you’ve never heard of Ms. Shipman? Me neither but she seemed like a fun gal.
In addition to being a major film star of her era, she was also an animal trainer, stunt woman, and writer/director/producer of several films. From an early age, she developed a respect toward animals and later fought for animal rights in Hollywood speaking out against animal cruelty. She rescued as many as she could accommodate and ultimately ended up with her own zoo containing over 200 animals. Her company went bankrupt in 1924 forcing her to send her animals to the San Diego Zoo because of her inability to pay the maintenance costs. Poor Nell.
Sunlight projects through the stained glass window on the front door.
What ails you? Doctors would often become addicted to the same drugs they prescribed to their patients. So not much has changed really.