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Tuesday, April 14, 2009


2009 - The Year of Valley History
Charles and Mary Forman - Founders of Toluca Lake by Richard Bogy

Charles Forman owned a country ranch that comprised a great deal of present-day Toluca Lake , and – in 1892 – he offered the first petition for a local U S Post Office (located in the parlor of the Weddington house) for what he called the town of “ Toluca ”. That was the first known reference to the “ Toluca ” name in the region. A recent discovery in the attic rafters of the Weddington house was an 1890’s shipping crate addressed to the “Weddington Brothers General Store” in “Toluca, California ”. In that same 1892 year land magnate Lankershim petitioned the Santa Fe railroad to build a train station close to the Toluca Post Office and to name it the ‘Lankershim Station”. As if to correct a “mistake” the railroad commissioned a locomotive “Toluca Flyer” in 1901.

General Forman died in 1919, a year after Mary. They had two children survive to adulthood, including Charles Jr. (who sold sections of the ranch property after his father’s death). One daughter, Lillie, died several days after her first birthday.

Forman had his ranch house at the large intersection of Forman Avenue and Toluca Lake Avenue. A barn stood slightly south-east of the house (on the site of the future Bing Crosby home) and an adobe packing shed was a bit father south east – near to present Navajo Avenue. The packing shed is said to still exist today as the “skeleton” of a home built around it. Forman Avenue south from Riverside Drive was the ranch driveway.

Although the General and Mary often spent relaxation time at the Toluca Ranch they maintained a grand mansion near the intersection of Pico and Figueroa (present day convention center - next to the 40-acre ranch of Horace Bell - early settler, member of the famous vigilante posse of Col Hope known as the “Rangers”, early LA publisher of the “porcupine” and author of what is believed to be the first book about Los Angeles history that was published in Los Angeles – “Reminiscences of a Ranger”). The General had just finished building what was said to be the grandest home in his native Virginia City, Nevada , when he met and married Mary on a business trip to Los Angeles. He so loved the house that he had built Nevada that he had it disassembled and shipped to Los Angeles, where it was rebuilt on the Pico site. Mary was of original Spanish stock and her family owned the Rancho La Puente. The Forman mansion on Pico was said to be one of the social centers of early Los Angeles, and the site of many lavish parties.

Mary Forman - A founder of Toluca Lake - digital image courtesy of Richard Bogy - Archives of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley 2009 (click on image to enlarge)

Charles Forman - A founder of Toluca Lake - digital image courtesy of Richard Bogy - Archives of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley 2009 (click on image to enlarge)

The San Fernando Valley, in the heart of the Creative Capital of the World, deserves a great Museum of history and culture.

1 comment: said...

very interesting, thank you Richard.