In 1885 – the same year that Joseph Swift Phillips founded the town of Covina – Chicago lumber tycoon Thomas Sanderson Ruddock1 purchased 120 acres2 of land from John Edward Hollenbeck, just east of Phillips's tract. There, the following year, Ruddock built his new winter home: "Mountain View."3,4
In pioneer times, the extravagant 3-storey Queen Anne-style mansion2 was the showpiece of the entire Azusa Valley (as the Eastern San Gabriel Valley was called back then).4 According to Covina historian Barbara Ann Hall, Mountain View...
...had 11 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, and 7 fireplaces of Belgian tile and rosewood. A stained-glass window looked down upon the staircase. There were stained-glass chandeliers in the ballroom. Surrounding the mansion were stables, a carriage house, a bunkhouse, servants' quarters, and a caretaker's cottage. The 800-foot drive was lined with palm trees and roses.2
Thomas Ruddock died in 1890 at the age of 71, and left Mountain View to his wife, Maria Nancy Newell Ruddock (b.1827).1 When she passed away in 1905, son Charles Homer Ruddock (1848-1929) inherited the property.
Ironically, for all its local fame in bygone days, few photographic images of Mountain View were known to have survived. Recently, however, I made the acquaintance of Mary Elarton Kidd – whose great aunt was the last resident of Mountain View – and she has shared with me many photos of the ranch which have never before been seen by the public.
To the best of my knowledge, this is the most detailed picture in existence of Covina's lost Victorian treasure. It shows Mountain View not long after Mary Chrastka acquired the ranch in the early 1930s.5
The Ruddock Mansion, 1886-1950. Photo courtesy Mary Kidd. Click image to enlarge.
The entrance to Mountain View, formerly located at 522 North Grand Avenue5 at the eastern end of San Bernardino Road. The mansion itself was located immediately east of the intersection of today's East Wingate Street and South Westridge Avenue.
Photo courtesy Mary Kidd.
Planted over 130 years ago, the Washingtonia filifera fan palms that still stand today along East Wingate Street are among the oldest trees in Covina (together with the palms that line Hollenbeck Street). Here they are in the 1940s, when they were already six decades old.
Photo courtesy Mary Kidd.
A Ruddock Company citrus crate label. At its peak – just before the turn of the last century – approximately 9,000 orange and 3,000 lemon trees1 grew on the estate.
Image courtesy Calisphere.
Continuing on: Here we are looking west toward Covina from the rear of the mansion. In the earliest years, from their high ground on a clear day, the Ruddocks would have had an unobstructed view of the entire valley, all the way to the San Gabriel River and beyond.
Reproduced from "Covina: Images of America," by Barbara Ann Hall, Ph.D.
This was the irrigation reservoir in back of the mansion. In the distance, at left, is the Masonic Home, opened in 1917. Just to the right of center is the intersection of Badillo Street and Glendora Avenue, which was the southeast corner of the original Ruddock estate lands.
Photo by the C. W. Tucker Studio, Covina, c.1927. Click image to enlarge.
An aerial photo from 1934. The north/south road in the center is Grand Avenue. A portion of the Mountain View ranch can be seen at right. The old city reservoir on San Bernardino Road at left was also constructed in 1886,4 and served the community for the next 100 years.
Image courtesy U. C. Santa Barbara Library, Special Research Collections.
After Mary Chrastka passed away in 1947, her Mountain View Ranch was acquired by real estate developers, and in 1950, the Ruddock mansion was demolished and the lands subdivided for suburban housing.5 Not all traces of Mountain View are gone, however. Three estate structures – including the original carriage house and two cottages that date to the 1910s – still stand today in the Wingate neighborhood. Thomas Ruddock, along with his wife, Maria, and sons Charles and Fredrick, are buried in the family plot in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Special acknowledgement and thanks to Mary Kidd for sharing her family photos of Mountain View. I only wish I had space to post all 17 of them! They really are genuine historical treasures.
1 Hotchkiss, G. W., 1894. Industrial Chicago; the lumber interests. Goodspeed Publishing Co., Chicago, Illinois, 580pp.
2 Hall, B. A., 2007. Covina: Images of America. Arcadia Publishing, San Francisco, California, 127pp.
3 _______, 2011. Covina Valley Citrus Industry: Images of America. Arcadia Publishing, San Francisco, California, 127pp.
4 Pflueger, D. H., 1964. Covina: Sunflowers - Citrus - Subdivisions. The Castle Press, Pasadena, California, 327pp.
5 Personal communication with Mary Kidd.