The Feb. 19, 1930 issue of the Santa Ana Register, celebrating the paper’s 25 anniversary, featured pages dedicated to each Orange County community. Los Alamitos had a full page of stories focused on the town’s growth.
In one story we learn that City Garden Acres (now Apartment Row) began as a subdivision developed by J.D. Millar Realty in 1922, with Rush Green handling all the sales. [J.D. Millar was a big concern — with projects in Los Angeles/Silver Lake (1918), Del Mar Terrace in San Diego (1920), Inglewood (c. 1922), Home Gardens (now part of South Gate) (1922), Redondo Villa in Torrance (1923), Fairfax Park (1924), Lankershim City Park (one of 15 subdivisions in the North Hollywood area) (1925-28), Eagle Rock, Burbank (1928), and Laguna (1930).] Like many of the other J.D. Millar projects City Garden Acres sold farm lots — long narrow lots targeting working class folk, short on cash but long on energy — many recent migrants from the midwest who came west to find work in the oil fields at Huntington Beach, Signal Hill, or Santa fe Sorings. Owners were allowed to build temporary homes, even tent shelters, and enter the ranks of home owners by saving up money to buy lumber, nails, pipes, etc., until they had enough to build a house — often 600 to 800 square feet — and supplement their income by raising vegetables, poultry, rabbits, even goats. The individual timelines were evidenced by the erratic sizes and placement of homes on the lots — some in front, some near the back. In Home Gardens (South Gate), a tract built simultaneously as City Garden Acres, the Millar Company required homes less than $1500 in value to be placed near the back of the lot.
Another Register story tells of the growth of the dairy industry in the Los Alamitos area, with the two largest dairies being the Thompson-Main Dairy with over 250 cows, and the Bixby Dairy (located on the current site of Los Al High School with some additional surrounding area) with around 150 cows. The Thompson-Main operation was one of three owned by that concern, and supplied much of the milk used at their Golden Creamery operation. The Bixbys had a creamery of their own, one in Long Beach and another in Buena Park.
Of most interest are the five photos at the top of the page. At the top left is the Womens’ Clubhouse which had once been the factory’s clubhouse for single men — and would later become a sanitarium that many remember to this day. But in the 1920s and 1930s it was rented out by the sugar company as a clubhouse, which became one of the more active in Orange County.
The top middle photo is one of the original St. Isadore Church — which was indeed originally spelled with an “a.” The original structure, finished around 1926, was made of bricks. It was after the 1933 Earthquake that the current lath and plaster model was constructed. Until St. Hedwig Church was built in the early 1960’s, St. Isadore served the entire Catholic community in the Los Alamitos area — English language services for the many farmers and merchants of Belgian (Watte, Otte, deBruyn, Cosyns, etc.) , French (Labourdette et al) and Irish (O’Connor, Reagan, etc.) descent and a Spanish language service afterwards for the large Mexican community (many from Jalisco, with some of those actually of recent Italian decent).
The top right photo is of the old Watts General store. This had originally been the Harmona Hotel on Main Street, but when Los Alamitos Blvd became the real main street in town, the hotel was sold to J.D. Watts who had it lifted and hauled two blocks to its new location just south of the current McNally’s Electric location. Just south of this building was Sjostrom’s Flying A gas station at Florista (where the vet’s clinic is now).
On the bottom row are the old Congregational Church, built in 1897 and the second version of Laurel School (which occupied the entire block where the Hof’s Hut center is now located.).