The Cobb Estate, Revisited

First off, I want to send a shout out to my new friend, Kathy Hoskins, at the Altadena Historical Society for sending over this digital newsletter.


It is so appropriate right now: Here in the foothills we're slowly coming to terms with the destruction wreaked by the Station Fire. I just discovered the remains of the Cobb Estate and lovely Flores Canyon just a few months ago,  and of course, our local history is always worth mentioning: real stuff that happened to real people, just like us.

So the timing is right. And this is what some old guy (who happened to be a self-made millionaire) did when his house was in danger: he fought back.


Here's what the newsletter (which was written by Jane Brackman, Altadena Historical Society President) says: "And speaking of fires…The 1934 Brown Mountain fire scorched 3000 acres above Altadena. One year later high winds fueled a fire that burned La Vina Sanatorium to the ground. The 1935 La Vina fire blazed across the foothills from Millard Canyon to Las Flores canyon, almost destroying the home of Charles H. Cobb. His Spanish style mansion, elegantly appointed with imported exotic hardwoods, was landscaped with eucalyptus, palm trees and lodge pole pines – fuel just waiting for a fire. But the 83 year-old Cobb, with help from his 200,000 gallon reservoir was prepared for the fight.


According to the October 24, 1935 issue of the Altadena Press, “About two o’clock in the morning [Cobb] was awakened to find that not only his property, a mansion nestled against the foothills of Las Flores canyon, but his life and that of his household were endangered. Due to the water system installed on the Las Flores ranch 20 years ago, Mr. Cobb, with the aid of Andrew Anderson, was able to save all of his property with the exception of damage done to a few trees and shrubs. Mr. Cobb handled a water hose bearing 100 pounds pressure, playing it upon a blazing furnace within a few feet of his garage and other buildings, the point first threatened.”


Cobb made his fortune in lumber, starting off as a lumberjack in his home state of Maine and later Washington. Prior to retirement he served as president of International Lumber Company.


In 1916, he and his wife, Carrie, purchased a substantial part of Las Flores ranch and built their dream home in the shadow of Echo Mountain.


The newspaper article continued, “Mr. Cobb stated that he has contended for many years that the canyons and foothills above Altadena should be periodically burned off by the forestry department to eliminate dangers to property and loss of life… This statement coming from a man who has spent a lifetime in the woods is significant and deserving of careful study.”


Cobb died in 1939. About 20 years later the house was torn down due to neglect and vandalism. Cobb’s estate, at the top of Lake Avenue, is now a park managed by the U.S. Forest Service."


Sources: Altadena: Between Wilderness and City by Michele Zack (2004); Altadena’s Golden Years by Robert H. Peterson (1976); Altadena Press, October 24, 1935, p 1


Altadena Historical Society: From our Files, “Fires” September 13, 2009

Home of Carrie and Charles H. Cobb, about 1930. (Photo reprinted

from Altadena’s Golden Years by Robert Peterson, p. 37)


Altadena Historical Society 730 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena CA 91001


(626) 797-8016 


Open Monday and Tuesday 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and by appointment


Stop by for a visit

Read and post comments | Send to a friend


~ by ravenjake on November 11, 2009.

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