In 1890, Colonel Presley C. Baker (1838-1893) married Clara Bradley Wheeler (1855-1954), after the death of her first husband. Colonel Baker had moved to sunny Southern California in the early 1880's for his health, as he had been afflicted with Bright's disease.
In 1892, they had constructed a new house in Pasadena along Orange Grove Boulevard. The home was not overly ostentatious, but was excellently sited on a large lot with an extensive view both east and west. Sadly Col. Baker died the next year, and so was unable to enjoy much time in the new home. Mrs. Baker remained, however.
|The House in 1899 |
(courtesy of American Architect, Feb. 1899)
In 1899 she remarried, this time to Robert Jones Burdette, a successful minister ordained in the Baptist Church, who was well-known for his many entertaining lectures around the United States. Clara and Bob (as he was known to his friends) had met early in life when both were back east, and notice of their marriage was news to more than just local friends. The San Francisco Call featured them in an article, for example.
After the marriage, he moved in to Sunnyside, where in 1900 the census found him along with Clara, Clara's mother Laura Bradley, Clara's son Roy Wheeler, and a housekeeper.
|The House in 1900|
Bob remained on the lecture circuit, although he took a temporary minister position in a Pasadena Presbyterian church for three months after the marriage. Meanwhile Clara continued her work in women's rights in the L.A. area. But as time passed Bob eventually took the position of pastor at the Temple Baptist Church in Los Angeles, to cut down on the travel, no doubt.
|Clara in 1905 for an article|
about the Ebell Club
In downtown L.A. in 1904 the largest venue for gatherings was the three-storey Hazard's Pavilion, which could seat about 1,200 patrons. Built in 1886 by Henry Hazard, it had been used for everything from fairs to boxing matches. In the fall of 1904, Temple Baptist Church leased the facility with a primary purpose to hold Sunday services. It was renamed Temple Auditorium and sermon attendance at the pavilion immediately overflowed capacity. The inadequacy of the facility was reinforced when the Ignace Paderewski Concert of New Year's Eve 1904 couldn't start on time due to crowds thronging around the small building entrance. A week later complaints were made to the city council calling the place a firetrap. The following February Madame Melba and Dr. Wilbur Chapman caused multiple, overflow crowds.
And so it was inevitable that in February, 1905 a new company was formed for the creation of a new auditorium on the corner of Fifth and Olive Streets, to seat 5,000, six storeys in height. Among the directors of the new company? W. C. Patterson and Clara Burdette. By November, 1906 the new Temple Auditorium was now complete, and constantly used by the Temple Baptist Church. In 1920 the Philharmonic Orchestra moved into the building causing a name change--to the Philharmonic Auditorium, which was a name known to many thousands of current Southern Californians, who traveled as youngsters into downtown Los Angeles to see all the big musical events before the creation of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in 1964.
Meanwhile the house was featured in a book in 1903 extolling the features of Pasadena.
|The house in 1903|
|SunnyCrest after the addition|
|Reception area of SunnyCrest|
|The Library at SunnyCrest|
During this time period, however, he worked on his book about prominent Southern Californians. Here is the picture he chose for SunnyCrest.
|SunnyCrest in 1909/1910|
|Sunnycrest in 1912|
By 1912 Bob's health deteriorated to an extent where he could no longer publicly speak, and in 1914 he passed away.
Clara remained in the house until 1919, when she sold the house and retired to Pasadena's Hotel Maryland. In 1922, at the urging of many friends, she wrote a biography about her late husband. From 1930 on she resided in the Huntington Hotel. She died in 1954.
Clara sold the house in 1919 to Thomas and Nettie Warner. Thomas had just sold his auto steering and transmission parts company of Muncie, Indiana to General Motors, and then he retired to Southern California. An auto garage (guest house) had been added out back prior to the purchase. Then in 1926 Nettie had the house razed and erected a new structure on the property. She and Thomas remained there--he passed away in 1947; she stayed on until her passing in 1962. The property was then redeveloped as apartments. The former garage appears to be the same one--at some point it appears to have been sold to the property owner to the west. No vestige of the former Sunnycrest house remains.
|Today's street view|
Below is an overlay of the 1910 Sanborn map with today's aerial view. Notice the suspect garage in the lower left.
|Today's aerial view of the former Sunnycrest property. Orange Grove Blvd. is at right.|