Welcome to NELA’S Montecito Heights
Montecito Heights Modern History
In 1910 the vision for Montecito Heights began. Developers planned the affluent suburb as groups of large well-appointed properties placed on large lots dispersed around a magnificent hilltop hotel. The Great Depression in 1929 wiped out the country along with the company, and the plans for the hotel were not to be.
Montecito Heights residents still enjoy the legacy of the developers’ vision. With oversized lots, they have profited by becoming micro-developers and building second houses or ADUs. Located between Los Angeles and Pasadena, Montecito Heights overlooks our nation’s first freeway and the Arroyo Seco River. History thrives through huge tracts of open wilderness areas, historic homes, and breathtaking views!
Built during the Great Depression, the construction of the Arroyo Seco Parkway put a lot of people to work, opening for travel on December 30, 1940. The 8.2 mile stretch of road cost approximately $6 million to build, paving the way for the rest of Los Angeles’ expansive freeway system.
“Arroyo Seco” means dry riverbed, Pasadena’s seasonal gulch was, in fact, nature’s own freeway back in the days of wagon trains. During the warmer and dryer months, it would provide a shortcut for wagons between Pasadena and Los Angeles to the Southwest. The Arroyo Seco Parkway or “Pasadena Freeway” was created to run parallel with it.
Montecito Heights Architecture
The residential architectural roots began with the adventurous spirit of those who first built on the hillside terrains during the turn of the century. From Victorian farmhouses to early Craftsman homes to modern homes, including Spanish colonial revival, English Tudor, and smaller bungalows.
The word “bungalow” derives from the Hindustani word “bangala,” meaning “belonging to Bengal.” Bungalow houses were first constructed in Bengal, India, in the mid-nineteenth century. Craftsman bungalow describes classic bungalows. These homes feature street-facing gables, shingled roofs, and wide overhanging eaves.
These homes are often painted or stained brown or dark green to blend with nature. These homes were so popular for a time that many cities have what is called a “Bungalow Belt” of homes built in the 1920s. These neighborhoods were often clustered along streetcar lines as they extended into the suburbs.
Montecito Heights Must-Haves
Heritage Square Museum is a living history museum that explores the settlement and development of Southern California during its first 100 years of statehood. The eight historic structures located at the museum, constructed during the Victorian Era were saved from demolition and serve as a perfect background to educate the public about the everyday lives of Southern Californians from the close of the 19th Century into the early decades of the 20th Century.
From the simplicity of the Longfellow-Hastings Octagon House to the opulence of the William Perry Mansion, the Museum provides a unique look at the lifestyles of the people who contributed so much to the development of modern Los Angeles.
Montecito Heights Art & Culture
Montecito Heights Lummis House
The Lummis House “El Alisal” is a rustic stone house built by the late Charles Fletcher Lummis, who purchased the property between 1895 and 1897 and built it by hand from the local river rocks, and old railroad telegraph poles used as ceiling support some thirteen years later.
The 4,000 sqft home is located on the edge of the Arroyo Seco in NELA. The home has been described as one part medieval, one part castle, with a measure of California Rancho and a dash of Native American Pueblo. Now that’s an architectural martini!
Lummis was an explorer, photographer, archeologist, writer, and founder of The Southwest Museum of The American Indian. and considered Los Angeles’s first multiculturalist. He hosted many parties, and some of his more notable guests were Clarence Darrow, Will Rogers, and John Muir.