Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Valhalla Memorial Park

Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery is located at 10621 Victory Blvd. in North Hollywood, CA

The cemetery has a special section called the Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation, which is the final resting place for some aviation pioneers, including barnstormers, daredevils and architects of aviation.  There is a memorial to Amelia Earhart and others,

The shrine was originally built as an impressive entrance to Valhalla Memorial Park cemetery.  It was named for the palace Odin, the Norse god of slain heroes.

Valhalla was founded in 1923 by John R. Osborne and C.C. Fitzpatrick, who were Los Angeles financiers.  The Spanish Mission Revival entrance structure was designed by Kenneth McDonald Jr. For the decorative stone castings, McDonald hired an Italian born sculptor Federico A. Giorgi, who had created 30 foot tall statues of elephants and lions for the 1917 film called "Intolerance" and crafted the exterior of downtown's Million Dollar theater.  The gateway to the new cemetery cost $140,000.  The rotunda was dedicated on March 1, 1925, with a concert by English contralto Maude Elliott.  It became a tourist attraction and was used for concerts that were broadcast over radio station KELW by station owner Earl L. White.  About five months after the dedication, Osborne and Fitzpatrick were convicted of fraud.  They had sold the same burial plots repeatedly.  Some had been sold as many as 16 times and the two needed a profit of $3-$4 million, per the Los Angeles Times.  The two were fined $12,000 each and sentenced to 10 years in prison, but served less than half the sentence.  The cemetery was taken over by the state and it is unclear how long the state owned the 63 acre cemetery, but Pierce Brothers bought it in 1950 and within two years, closed the rotunda to vehicle traffic and move the entry to the cemetery from Valhalla Driven Burbank to Victory and Cahuenga Blvds. in North Hollywood.  There, they opened a two story office and mortuary.

On December 17, 1953, the rotunda was rededicated as the Portal of the Folded Wings, through the efforts of aviation fan and cemetery employee James Gillette.  During the ceremony, the cremated remains of Walter R. Brookins were interred there.  Brookings was the first aviator to take a plane to an altitude of a mile and had been the Wright brothers' first civilian student.

When sculptor Giorgi died in 1963, he was buried outside the structure, near his masterpiece.  Gillette  was also buried outside near the shrine he helped found.

In 1958,  Pierce Brothers sold its family-owned chain of Southern California mortuaries and cemeteries to Joe Allbritton, a Texas financier, who sold off 20 acres of Valhalla for development.  In 1991, the cemeteries and mortuaries were acquired by Service Corp. International in Houston, but the Pierce Brothers sign remains at Valhalla.

A trip to the Anaheim Packing District

Mari, Marissa and I took a trip to Anaheim to the Anaheim Packing District.  This was a place I had heard about that recently opened and I had driven by, while Marissa was going through testing up the street.   I had seen the building while it was going through renovation.

The Anaheim Packing House is one of the few remaining packing houses from the agricultural era for which Orange County is named.  The packing house is a landmark in the history of Orange County and the city of Orange.  The building was built in 1919 at the edge of downtown Anaheim  and along the Southern Pacific rail line.  The Packing House was a hub of commerce for the area, as local farmers arrived to unload trucks of freshly picked citrus  to begin the process of washing, grading and eventual packing into wooden crates.  Once this process was completed, the crated and labeled citrus would be loaded onto rail cars that were parked on the side of the building and were shipped nationwide.

The restored Packing House is a food hall reminiscent of the great public markets of South America and Europe.  These markets served as a resource for the neighborhood  and a community gathering space.  The two level Packing House features a large central atrium with communal dining surrounded by cafes and kiosks of varying sizes as well as outdoor picnic gardens and a building-length dining porch looking out to the outdoor marketplace known as Farmers' Park

Chairs in Farmers' Park in Anaheim
Chairs in Farmers' Park

Farmers' Park at Anaheim Citrus Packing District
Farmers' Park


Farmers Park is a two acre park with a grassy knoll, redwood boardwalk, community gardens and olive grove.  The Farmers Park connects the Anaheim Packing House and the Packard Building and provides the community a gathering place for events.  There is a Certified Farmers Market on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  

The Packard Building is one of a few historic commercial buildings that remain in the district.   The mission revival building was built in 1925 and was designed with an open and light filled interior typical of car showrooms.  After decades of various automobile uses  and miscellaneous modifications, the Packard Building has been restored to its original 1920's glory.  The Packard Building is now home to the Anaheim Brewery and Umami Burger.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What to do in the 5 counties of Southern California during the month of November!

Halloween and Daylight Savings are over and now we head into the holidays.  The stores are putting out more and more holiday decorations.  First comes Thanksgiving though!  On Facebook many people are doing a 30-days of gratitude.  Let me know in the comments what you are grateful for!


LAST MINUTE NOTICE!  There is an architecture tour at the Getty Villa in Malibu on November 3 at 10:30


During the month of November, the Blue Whales; which are the largest of whales begins their migration southward.  


San Diego Beer Week is a ten-day celebration inspiring people to drink local craft beer and promoting San diego's thriving brewing culture with events happening around the San Diego area. 


Calico Holiday Fest from November 28 at 9 a.m. to Sunday, November 30 at 5 p.m.


18th Annual Palm Springs Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2014 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m at Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon.

Get out and explore and enjoy the month of November and Thanksgiving and remember to let me know what you are thankful for!