Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Old Mill - El Molino Viejo

Los Angeles County, September 7, 1995 

The black Olds Silhouette sets off on a day trip to LA with this writer, the better half, and daughter on board and a not-too-aggressive list of state landmarks to see in the county of angels. First landmark stop is in San Marino at the Old Mill, and for some reason the photo has been lost, so we’ll just throw in a shot taken along the way from the desert in Cabazon. In these non-digital camera days we were running around with Canon AE-1’s with multiple lenses and a Canon 8mm video camera which cost about a grand back then. At least this is one area where we’ve made progress, for most of tasks for that equipment can be handled easily by a smart phone. 

This is the part of San Marino with Curvy roads and set back houses on manicured sloping lawns, where this writer as a kid was convinced was where the richest people in the world lived. The Old Mill is run by the Old Mill Foundation, who took it over about the time of this visit, and open most days from 1 to 4 and is free to poke around. What got it state landmark status is that it is the oldest commercial building in Southern California.

If this writer were to conjure up a song on the mill, it would this story, found on Wikipedia….besides, any story from someone named Topsy Tinkle must be considered:

In his 1898 publication, Topsy Tinkle recounted a story that the Indians told about a natural spring located on the site of the Old Mill. The story told of a 16-year-old Indian named Catalina with "thick, jet-black hair" and "big, melting black eyes." Catalina lived in the time of the San Gabriel Mission and gave roses to the Virgin Mary in hopes that she could win the heart of the handsome Jose, even hoping that "something dreadful" would happen to another girl of whom Jose was fond. When Jose left for two years serving on a ship, Catalina turned her back on the Virgin, and Catalina began praying to the old "Mexican god", described as a "hideous clay image". Catalina died of sorrow when Jose did not return, and her body was buried on the spot where the mill was later built, a spot from which a natural flow of spring water "slowly oozes". According to the legend, oozing spring water is "only the tears from a loving woman's broken heart."

NO. 302 OLD MILL - The Old Mill, El Molino Viejo, was designed by Father José María Zalvidea and built of fired bricks and adobe about 1816 to serve Mission San Gabriel. Another grist mill was built in 1823 near the mission and the old mill was gradually abandoned - it passed from mission control in 1846. The property remained in private hands until 1903, when Henry E. Huntington bought the building and used it for a golf clubhouse. Later owners, Mr. and Mrs. James Brehm, had the mill restored in 1928 by Frederick Rupple.
Location: 1120 Old Mill Rd, San Marino
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: EL MONTE
GPS 34.118937,-118.127575

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