The Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum is a historic house museum located at 15415 East Don Julian Road in City of Industry, California, that features the pioneer Workman-Temple family’s residences and private cemetery.
William Workman (1799-1876) purchased a portion of Rancho La Puente after arriving in the San Gabriel Valley in 1841 and built his adobe house in 1842. It was expanded over time, and by 1870, it had been renovated with brick wings and a second storey, as well as stunning external decorative elements. This refurbishment was supposed to have been designed by Ezra F. Kysor, the designer of the current Pico House hotel, St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, and the Perry House, all in Los Angeles, though no record of Kysor’s work on the structure is available. The Workman Adobe was listed to the California State Register of Historic Landmarks, No. 874, in conjunction with “El Campo Santo” Cemetery, on November 20, 1974, with the marker installed on the site on November 5, 1976, the 135th anniversary of the Workman family’s arrival in the area.
The general proportions of the construction are 19′ deep by 72′ wide, with big porches on the north and south sides, and there are eight rooms on the first floor and three finished rooms (with three others evidently finished in the late 19th century) on the second story. The property underwent significant changes throughout the years, most notably when it was used for military school classrooms from 1930 to 1935, and then as a residence, office, and nurses’ quarters for El Encanto sanitarium from 1940 to 1963, when the home and cemetery were purchased by the City of Industry. As a result, many original details have long since vanished, while a few significant survival remain, including the ca. 1870 interior staircase, two marble coal-burning fireplaces from the same date, and a ceiling cartouche from the same era. Restoration operations in the late 1970s were limited to the structure’s exterior, including the reconstruction of the whole east wall, which was primarily made of adobe and collapsed during work in 1977. There are two residences offered for visitors on the property, and admission and parking are both free. Each tour lasts 45 minutes, and certain areas of the house are off-limits, including the cellars, the upstairs of the Workman home, and the military school dorms.
La Casa Nueva (Temple residence)
The Homestead Museum also houses “La Casa Nueva,” a stunning example of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture constructed by the Temple family between 1922 and 1927. Walker & Eisen, a well-known Los Angeles architectural firm, designed the family’s own home, but in 1924, Beverly Hills-based architect Roy Selden Price was engaged to rearrange the design.
The structure is mostly made of adobe bricks handcrafted by artisans supervised by Pablo Urzua of Guadalajara, Jalisco, with Sylvester Cook of Whittier as the supervising contractor. The house (9,000 square feet as built, with 2,000 square feet (190 m2) of dormitory space built in 1930 for a military school that used the house) has twenty-six rooms, including nine bedrooms, six bathrooms, a barber shop, commercial size electric cold storage unit, basement with a late 1870s bank vault for storage, and other notable features such as hand painted designs on windows and a vibrant use of stained glass from the period. The house is also distinctive in that it displays a Madonna and Child, but not with a traditional face; the face is more current, with cosmetics, a different facial structure, and so on. The Temple family lived in the home as a fully completed structure for only two years (1928 and 1929). The home was leased to Lawrence Lewis, who was headmaster of a boys’ military academy, Raenford (later Golden State), which moved from Redondo Beach and operated at the 92-acre (370,000 m2) ranch from 1930 to 1935. The property and mansion were later owned by the California Bank and occupied by caretakers until they were purchased in October 1940 by Harry and Lois Brown, owners of El Encanto, a sanitarium relocated from Monrovia. The Browns took exceptional care of the house until 1975, when it was sold to the City of Industry.
Following restoration, the home was opened as part of the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum in May 1981. While the majority of the house was original, some reproduction was done, and the house was nearly totally furnished with acquired period pieces, while Temple descendants donated some genuine family furniture and artifacts.
Next Point of Interest: Hacienda Hills