E. R. Burroughs Buys Otis Miraflores Estate
Famous Writer for South Hills
Van Nuys News ~ March 7, 1919
Tarzana will be the new name of Miraflores, the beautiful improved country estate formerly owned by Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, in Van Nuys South Hills, which was purchased last week by Edward (sic) Rice Burroughs, famous American novelist, author of "Tarzan of the Apes," and other well known works.
Mr. Burroughs has been living in Los Angeles for several months, but the lure of the country life, where he can have seclusion for his writings and follow the pursuits of a California rancher, was the impelling motive for locating in the San Fernando valley. He has taken possession of the estate and is now living there.
The estate, which comprises approximately 540 acres, lies along the south side of the Ventura Boulevard (State highway), west of Encino Acres its center faces the newly paved Reseda avenue, and the property extends back to the sky line of the Santa Monica range of mountains.
A magnificent dwelling of the most modern hollow tile and concrete construction is built on a commanding knoll a half mile back from the highway, from which one of the finest and most comprehensive views of the entire valley is had. This residence was built by General Otis and was occupied by him as a home at the time of his death.
Rare trees and shrubbery have been set out on a fifteen-acre plot around the house, which, when they attain their full growth, will make a veritable elysian paradise of the place.
Acquired with the purchase were a large number of thoroughbreds and registered goats, which the new owner will utilize on the hill lands and canyons of the estate.
Mr. Burroughs has also decided to engage extensively in the pig industry, and is making plans for building up a herd of the finest Berkshire stock that he can secure.
The selection of the Van Nuys country for a home by Mr. Burroughs is another tribute to the attractiveness of this locality, for this noted author had all of Southern California to select from after a thorough search for a location.
As the News predicted early in the development of the Van Nuys tract, the south hills is rapidly developing the Southland. Already there are located along the Ventura boulevard the fine W. F. Holt Diary and Stock Farm, the Adohr Stock Farm, owned by M. H. Adamson, and the celebrated Eliot-Brent Dairy and Stock Rancho.
W. D. Longyear, vice-president of the Security Savings Bank of Los Angeles, is at present developing his large estate near the Hold estate, for raising thoroughbred beef cattle.
The country is admirable for the stock raising and dairying industries and is well watered by abundant and never-failing supply from the Los Angeles aqueduct.
Van Nuys welcomes Mr. Burroughs to our valley and trusts he may find here true enjoyment of California country life and a profitable field for his farming operations.
Mil Flores - On the country estate of General Harrison Gray Otis (1837-1917), San Fernando Valley, 1919
General Otis bought the land in 1909. The estate was sold to Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1919
who renamed it Tarzana. This structure, Koonskin Kabin, served as a guest house.
Burroughs rented it out as a set for film companies ~ Ralph Herman Collection.
THE STORY OF TARZANA
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Author of "Tarzan of the Apes"
Los Angeles Times ~ October 8, 1922
Tarzana Ranch and Town
For four years I have lived on my ranch which stretches from Ventura Boulevard to the top of the Santa Monica Mountains -- some 550 acres lying within the city limits of Los Angeles. It is a beautiful site and I love my home which stands on a low hill just half a mile from the Los Angeles-San Francisco highway.
Now I want others to enjoy this glorious country with me, so I have selected about 100 acres, rolling from my home to the highway, which I have divided into acre residential sites -- each one as large as six ordinary city lots -- and it is in this favored place that I invite you to choose your home site and become my neighbors.
The new town is called TARZANA, and a number of fine business lots stretch along the highway, where all the conveniences and necessities may be purchased. If you are more interested in the business possibilities than in a home. I want you to come out and study the situation here.
TARZANA will be a town where we will each live our own life in our own way -- the way we have always WANTED to live it -- free from conventionalities and restrictions of cities, yet with all the comforts and luxuries to which we have been accustomed.
I should like to see come to TARZANA you folks who are seeking new interests, possibly in old things and certainly in new things if you so prefer. Somewhere there is a retired merchant who wants to get b back in business in a small way; there is the man or woman who always wanted to raise some sort of fancy dog or cat; there are those who want to do something beautiful, fascinating and lucrative such as the culture of flowers. For all these -- for every one with an artistic soul and the desire to express it unhampered --TARZANA -- has a place.
Every Advantage for You
To come to TARZANA does not mean that you will lose anything the city has to offer, for the broad, smooth highway leads directly into town -- and so close that one may spend an evening at the theater and yet retire at a reasonable hour.
For those who love golf and tennis, the Hollywood Country Club lies but fifteen minutes drive; just over the mountains, through Topango Canyon you will find the ocean with its fishing and surf bathing, while the winding trails of the foothills offer unlimited opportunities for hiking and horseback riding.
The many advantages of Hollywood -- the famous Bowl, the Pilgrimage Play -- the Clubs and Theaters -- are close at hand, for the road from Los Angeles to TARZANA lies through Hollywood, over Cahuenga Pass and along Ventura Boulevard.
For those with children there is the advantage of an excellent school with bus service, and out of school hours, the clean, healthful out-of-doors in which to romp and play and build up splendid specimens of manhood and womanhood.
I have written a little book about all these advantages and opportunities, which I have called "THE STORY OF TARZANA." If you will come out and see this new town today or some time this coming week, I shall be delighted to hand you a copy. For those of you who do not find it convenient to motor out in the near future I will b glad to mail a copy if you will fill and send me the coupon below.
I have but a limited number of home sites and business lots remaining unsold, so I cannot too strongly urge you not to put off your inspection of TARZANA. I feel certain that when you have seen it you will fall as much in love with the location as I have and that if your visit is delayed until the most desirable locations are sold you will feel a keen regret. Come out and meet me today.
Only 70 Residential Acres and 50 Business Lots Remain Unsold!
Easy Terms Arranged to Suit Your Convenience
Edgar Rice Burroughs - Reseda, Cal.
TARZANA BROCHURE ~ 1924
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Several months ago our agent ws called East and the sale of remaining lots reverted to us. Knowing the nature of proposed developments around Tarzana, and realizing the bearing they had on values, we took the tract off the market until the developments had progressed to completion, or to a point where completion was assured.
We are, therefore, now offering the remaining lots and acres of Tarzana to the public at greatly increased values, but temporarily without increase in price, and upon vastly improved terms.
Mulholland Drive, now completed and in daily use from Hollywood to Calabassas, has greatly increased the value of Tarzana property. Let us see why this is true.
Avenida Oriente, the name of which will shortly be changed to El Caballero Drive, which traverses the full length of the tract, is one of the three major arteries proposed by the City Planning Commission to connect the Valley with Mulholland Drive and the sea. It is already available to Mulholland Drive along a temporary route. When completed, it will run direct from Tarzana to Santa Monica, drawing its traffic from east and west by Ventura Boulevard, and from the north along Reseda Avenue, which connects Tarzana with San Fernando, Newhall Pass, Chatsworth and Santa Susanna Pass.
It is obvious, therefore, that a considerable and ever increasing traffic will develop along this lateral, bringing a constant stream of cars long two sides of Tarzana and up every street of the subdivision.
THE WORLD'S GREATEST PLAYGROUND
Nor is this all. Tarzana lies at the exact center of the great country club development that is rapidly making the Santa Monica Mountains the most famous playground in the world. East of us lie the Hollywood Country Club, the Whitley Park Country Club and Encino Country Club. At our own doors is El Caballero, the finest of them all, and to the west -- the Chalk Hill Country Club and The Girard Country Club.
These Clubs will bring thousands of well-to-do and wealthy men and women by our doors weekly -- they will give employment to hundreds of men and women who must live close to their work, and therefore become prospective renters and purchasers of our residences and lots. They will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Valley annually, increasing the prosperity of all and especially of the merchants closest to them. Rabbits, chickens, eggs, vegetables and small fruits will find a ready market at the hands of the stewards of these great clubs.
Never before has the immediate future of Tarzana been so bright; never again can such property be bought at the prices now in force or at the low and easy terms we are able to make, now that we are selling direct instead of through an agent.
EL CABALLERO COUNTRY CLUB
El Caballero Country Club is now rapidly approaching completion. At this writing more than sixty men and thirty horses are at work daily putting the finishing touches on the golf course, which experts unanimously agree will be the finest in the West, if not in the whole country.
El Caballero will represent an investment of almost one million dollars. Its property adjoins Tarzana along the entire southern line of the tract, while its club house and beautifully landscaped grounds form a background that has always been a part and parcel of Tarzana --a lovely park at our doors.
It does not require much business acumen to realize the effect that the development of this Club will have upon Tarzana values.
HOW DO YOU DO IT
Tear off and mail back-cover, stating that you are interested and will go and look at the property. I will then mail you a map of the tract, prices and terms. Go out and select the lot you want -- then come in to my office and close. All lots are plainly marked.
Or, if you cannot go out tell me what sort of lot you want and I will select it just as carefully as though I were selecting it for myself. There will be no reservations and no favorites -- there is only one ground floor and I am inviting you in on that. My prices and terms are plain and simple an d they are the same for everybody.
Tarzana is held in trust, for your protection and mine, by the Title Insurance and Trust Company. They handle your money and guarantee title.
The property is increasing in value every day.
Those who act now will buy it cheaper than it ever can be bought again. There is another big real estate movement about ready to break along Ventura Boulevard, as you probably know as well as I. When it does prices will go up and so I make this offer and submit my present prices subject to change without notice.
PRICES AND TERMS
Notwithstanding greatly increased values, the prices on Tarzana acres and lots have not yet been increased , while the the terms have been modified and the time of payments lengthened.
As there is now no agent who must derive his profits and reimburse himself for his expenses as quickly as possible, we are able to offer terms that will suit any purchaser in one of our three plans, as follows:
Plan No. 1. -- Cash, 5% Discount
Plan No. 2. -- 25% down, balance in three years, interest, at 7%, and principal payable quarterly.
Plan No. 3. -- 10% down, balance 2% monthly, over a period of five years.
These monthly payments include interest and in some cases are as low as $13.00 per month.
EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS, INC., 206 Hill Street Bldg., Los Angeles, Calif.
at intersection of Ventura Boulevard with Reseda Avenue and El Caballero Drive.
Telephone: TRinity 4155
The sale of the Woodrough property to the west of Tarzana means the immediate subdivision of this great tract of over three thousand acres and the bringing of thousands of new settlers into the hills beyond us. with a corresponding increase in all land values between Ventura Boulevard and Mulholland Drive.
There has never been a time in the marvelous development of Ventura Boulevard when so great and varied activities were in process of consummation as now.
The last large, undeveloped unit passed into the hands of subdividers recently when Bundy & Albright purchased the General Sherman Tract. The very fact that a firm so experienced and successful in the development of Ventura Boulevard property gladly paid a record price for this extensive acreage is the best assurance that any buyer can have of the safety and profit to be found in a tract like Tarzana, located as it is at one of the only two natural and logical points for town site development between Hollywood and the Ventura County line -- the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Reseda Avenue carrying the coast traffic between Los Angeles and the north and El Caballero Drive carrying the traffic between the valley and the beach towns by the most direct route over a low saddle through the Santa Monica Mountains.
Aerial View of Tarzana Ranch from the Early '20s
From ERB Homes Gallery ~ ERBzine 0252 * The largest building near the centre is the main house which later became the clubhouse for the El Caballero Country Club in 1925 (it was demolished about 10 years later)
* Along a "7 o'clock" line from the house are a
ballroom with living quarters,
three car garage and
two-car garage with living quarters.
* Along a "4 o'clock" line are:
the chicken coop and pen,
stables and corrals for the family riding horses,
dairy barn and corral
the area that became the golf course for the El Caballero Country Club.
* In the upper left corner of the small scale photo is the location of the present ERB, Inc. office building built in 1927 on Ventura Boulevard which runs across the top of the photo.
* The complex at the top of the small scale photo is the Adohr Dairy -
home of the world's largest pure-bred Guernsey herd (later moved to Camarillo)
* The trees encircling the house on the hill are rare specimens imported from all over the world by the original owner, General Harrison Gray Otis. Most were bulldozed in October 1999 to make room for a housing development. The trees around the foundation of the main house still remain.
EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS, FAMED NOVELIST,
IS REAL ESTATE OPERATOR ON VENTURA BOULEVARD;
LAUDS ITS ADVANTAGE
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Van Nuys News ~ September 30, 1927
The home of the late General Harrison Gray Otis, which stands on the summit of the knoll, one-half mile south of Ventura boulevard, at the end of Reseda avenue, has been one of the landmarks of the Coast Highway and San Fernando valley for many years.
When I acquired this property with its 550-acres of pasture and hill land some nine years ago, I believed that in the course of fifteen or twenty years it might represent a valuable property for my children.
NO TRAFFIC JAMS THEN
In those days, we often drove the entire distance from Lankershim boulevard to Tarzana without meeting a single automobile and there were only three or four residences along this entire stretch of Ventura boulevard and not a single hot dog stand. I often wonder how e survived this lonely ride with starvation constantly staring us in the face. Perhaps we were a hardier race in those days but however that may be, the fact remains that we managed to get along fairly well without the partaking of food at every lamp post as would appear to be the custom of the present generation, if one may judge by the number of eating places dotting this great thoroughfare.
THEY TELL OF GROWTH
But all these restaurant and hot dog stands and grocery and market and egg and fruit and vegetable stands point more truly to the tremendous growth of Ventura boulevard than any other index, for they reveal the remarkable influx of home makers that have poured into the Valley and settled on each side of Ventura boulevard, as well as the tremendous traffic that has developed along this artery of California's great system of highways.
There are many reasons for this outside of the caterwauling of real estate salesmen, the principal one being that San Fernando Valley along Ventura boulevard is a mighty good place to live.
OUR CLIMATE "IDEAL"
The myths of terrific heat have long since been exploded and while during a couple of months each year we have hot weather for four or five hours each day, this fact is more than offset by our cool and delightful evenings and nights and by the absence of continuous fogs and high winds, and particularly because of its freedom from fog this district is constantly attracting more and more home builders.
The future of this district, and I am speaking of everything along Ventura boulevard from Cahuenga Pass to Calabasas, is by far the brightest of any section of the city of Los Angeles for the reason that we are blessed with a marvelous climate, rich soil and a delightful outlook regardless of location.
For many years I have felt that the only logical line of growth for a high class residential district is along the Santa Monica Mountains and with Mulholland Drive as the main artery of such a district, the Ventura boulevard side of the hills offering, as it does, freedom from fogs and continuous winds must prove highly desirable in the eyes of those who are looking for locations for pleasantly situated, delightful home sites.
The values, too, will never again be as low as they are today. Business lots that we sold here at $500 four years ago are now quoted at $2500 and I predict that in two years these business lots will be worth $5000 apiece. Similarly, though in a lesser degree, this holds true for residential property, a great deal of which is now available all along Ventura boulevard at what will seem in two or three years ridiculously low prices.
VALUES HAVE JUMPED
Property that I could have bought nine years ago for $500 an acre is now being held for $10,000 and some raw hill land that I could have purchased for $300 an acre three or four years ago sold recently at $1,500 an acre.
For reasons such as these, I feel that this district offers more to the prospective home owner than any locality of which I have any knowledge, since he may find here not only ideal living conditions but an almost positive assurance of a substantial increase in the value of his investment.
EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS SEES VALLEY
AS WORLD MECCA FOR MEN AT PLAY
The Van Nuys News ~ February 17, 1928
Edgar Rice Burroughs, famous author of "Tarzan of the Apes" and thirty-one other novels, which have been translated into nineteen different languages, in discussing the $25,000,000 San Fernando Valley development program now under way for the construction of highways, development of new communities, golf courses, bridle trails, parks and increased transportation facilities to meet the future requirements of areas of denser population, yesterday declared the san Fernando area to be the great playground of Los Angeles. Mr. Burroughs' home is at Encino and his world-read stories are written there. Mr. Burroughs voice his sentiment in a story written especially for The News.
"with our freedom from persistent fog, with ten months without high winds, with our ideal winter climate, the only danger that I can see menacing lies in the possibility, which is by no means a remote one, that San Fernando Valley may eventually become as over-populated as are many of the districts that were formerly the playgrounds of Los Angeles," Mr. Burroughs declared.
"The first impressions of Los Angeles that I can recall and which were received long before I made my first visit to Southern California in 1913, led me to think of it then, and for many years thereafter, as a sort of heaven on earth where tired souls went after they had acquired enough worldly goods in the humdrum, sunless purgatory that lies beyond the borders of this earthly paradise to permit them to retire from a life of drudgery and enjoy the rewards of the hereafter without actually dying a physical death.
"In my mind Los Angeles was a playground at that time, and when I eventually came here to live some years ago it was still little more than a vast playground with plenty of places to play, to enjoy peace and happiness -- to lead an ideal existence; and then came the period of our tremendous industrial development and in a few years hundreds of thousands of people swarmed into and spread over our garden of the gods until it trembled to the tramp of countless feet, its peace shattered by the honking of myriad automobile horns, factory whistles and other nerve destroying factors in the march of progress.
Home Overlooks Valley
"I was glad then, and I have continued to be glad since, that when I came here to live I had chosen a homesite in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the broad and beautiful San Fernando Valley, for here the spirit of peace and happiness and play is making its last stand against the raucous din of overwhelming prosperity, and while San Fernando Valley is joining in that prosperity it has done so in such a way as to insure that it shall be forevermore the playground of Los Angeles.
"It is a good place to work -- during the past ten years I have discovered that -- but it is primarily a good place to work because it is a good place to play, for to my mind the two move forward to perfect success only when they go hand in hand.
"For ten years I have roamed these hills with my family, both afoot and on horseback. I have watched my children grow to a sturdier health, achieving cleaner minds and morals because of their close companionship with nature, and when, one after another, the country clubs and golf courses sprang into existence upon our side of the mountains, until now they stretch almost uninterruptedly for nearly fifteen miles along Ventura boulevard, I was more than delighted for I felt that this meant that the San Fernando Valley was going to be dedicated for all time to the pursuits of play and peace and happiness."
"Tarazana" (sic) is the home of Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan of the Apes. This estate lies some twenty-five miles northwest of Los Angeles on the Coast Highway to San Francisco. It extends from the road far back into the hills of the Coast Range where wild cats and mountain lions still stalk their prey.
ERB, Inc. Office ~ Ventura Boulevard
TARZANA ARTICLE EXCERPTS
Dignity Complex: Author's Foe
By Seth T. Bailey ~ Oakland Tribune Magazine, June 3, 1923
California's mild winters attracted Mr. Burroughs and his family for several consecutive years beginning with 1913. Then in 1919, after one of Chicago's unusually severe winters, the family journeyed to California with the intention of making it their permanent home. In the early spring of that year, Mr. Burroughs purchased the estate which later became known as "Tarzana." This estate was the home of General Otis, a hero of the War in the Philippines and founder and manager of the Los Angeles Times until his death. The palatial white stucco residence crowning one of the hills, was the General's home. It was occupied by the Burroughs family for several years after their purchase of the land, but now it has been converted into a country club and is a playground of the well-to-do. The author's family now occupies a modest bungalow at the foot of the hill near the highway.
The master of "Tarazana" allows no hunting on his estate. Furthermore, he secured an appointment as a deputy game warden in order that he might better protect the wild creatures that live on his land.
Two pools in the garden near the house supply clear fresh drinking water for the wild things. As a result oF this care and protection, the grounds are alive with small animals, quail and other birds. But the mountain lions and wild cats cannot be tempted to venture so near to civilization.
Mr. Burroughs neither hunts nor fishes. His keen sense of justice prevents his finding any fun in killing. He would kill for food or in self-defense, but not for sport. But he gets a keen joy out of hunting with a camera.
Of all animals, Mr. Burroughs loves horses best. He keeps several mounts and finds keenest joy in the saddle. Riding is another of the subjects in which Mr. Burroughs instructed the students at the Michigan Military Academy, and he was in the cavalry division of the United States Army for several years thereafter. But Mr. Burroughs' chief pride is his family. Two sons and a daughter have just blossomed into maturity.
TARZANA EXCERPTS FROM
THE ERB TIMELINE BIO
EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS'
TARZANA PHOTO ALBUM
Rare Burroughs Family Photos from the McWhorter Memorial ERB Collection ~ University of Louisville
A postcard sent out by ERB, Inc., to notify those on its mailing list that its address should now read
"Tarzana" instead of "Reseda," thanks to the new name adopted for the community and
establishment of an independent post office a few days earlier.
Tarzana Post Office, circa 1940
5609 Yolanda Avenue, Tarzana, CA 91356
Photo from a Post article that I expanded upon
and featured in a 2004 ERBzine issue:
|"A Little Land and a Living" Postcard, c. 1919
An artist's concept drawing of a subsistance farm in California.
The card was published as publicity for
|This linen postcard of the Tarzana Trailer Park with
a Los Angeles, CA. address. It is located on U.S. Hwy. 101 just 15 minutes
A Curteich card of Chicago, IL.
There are 22 lines of printed info on back advertising the facilities of the park and offering a half dollar to anyone sending a customer to the park.
It also gives the information that Tarzana is the home of Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of "Tarzan of the Apes."
Aerial View of Burbank, 1928
The diagonal street is San Fernando Road.
The Southern Pacific Railroad tracks are next to San Fernando Road.
The lower diagonal line is also Southern Pacific Tracks.
Location for the future United Airport is on the left, before the tracks.
Scale on original photograph 1:18,000.~ Fairfield Collection
Aerial Photo of the San Fernando Valley 1954
An Illustrated Docu-Novel by Bill Hillman
A rare booklet from the '20s
written and published by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Article and Letters describing Tarzana
A Last Photo Tribute and Poem
ERBzine 0954 and ERBzine 0955
Photos ~ Text by ERB ~ Art by Studley Burroughs
ERBzine 1091 ~ ERBzine 1092 ~ ERBzine 1093
A Photo Diary by Bill Hillman
ECOF CONVENTION 2002
Then and Now
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