Friday, November 2, 2012
This is the Jameson House, built in 1910. According to this L.A. Times article, the historic Jameson property was subdivided into ten lots, in 1992. The plan called for the 7,892 square foot Jameson house and "two other structures" to be preserved. New houses were to be built on six lots, with one lot being reserved for open space. These new homes, according to the article would comprise the newly-created Ida May Lane.
Ida May Lane is a fairly unusual street name. It was named for Mrs. Ida May Jameson, who was born in Canada in about 1863. Her husband, Mr. James W. Jameson, was born in California in about 1860, and made his millions in oil in the area of Taft, in Kern County. The couple did not have children, and seemed to have led a cosmopolitan life. In December of 1928, they sailed to Hawaii on the "City of Honolulu" and passenger records indicate that they were on the ship with entertainer Al Jolson and "Ruby Jolson," (actress/dancer/singer Ruby Keeler), who Jolson had married earlier that same year.
Mr. Jameson passed away in 1934, at the age of 74. According to a 1936 public directory, Mrs. Jameson went on to become the president of the J.W. Jameson Corporation. In the late 1950's she set up the Jameson Trust, and died in 1963 at the age of 102.
Interestingly, at about the time that the Jameson Trust was sub-dividing the Jameson's Sierra Madre property, there was an unpleasant situation going on in Taft, regarding 640 acres that Mr. Jameson purchased in 1910. According to a 1991 article in the L.A. Times, he originally purchased the land so his workers could build houses for themselves. By 1991, when the last beneficiary of the Trust had passed away, the trustees wanted to sell the land, and use the funds toward the Trust's many charities.
Unfortunately the people living in the houses at the time, many of whom were descendants of the original Jameson employees, were threatened with eviction. They owned the houses, but not the land, which they had been leasing at a very low $30-$50 per month (up from $3 per month in 1910). According to this 1995 article, there seems to have been a happy ending. When the land was sold, the new owner allowed the residents purchase their land for $7,000 to $13,000 per parcel.
In 1930, the Jameson House in Sierra Madre was listed as being worth $35,000. Currently, the house is for sale for a tad bit more: $3,890,000.00. Click here to go to the Realtor.com listing, which has 35 pictures of this historic house and property. You'll see that the home is worth every penny they're asking for (if you happen to have that many pennies).