The crumbling river rock walls at the corner of Monterey Road and Lomitas Drive in Hermon are like so many other fragments of Eastside history found on empty lots or behind new buildings. These walls converge on a cracked and uneven flight of concrete steps that climb the hill and disappear into a grassy lot shaded by giant palm and eucalyptus trees. This lot – actually two separate parcels – and street front garage were once part of a hillside estate that included the neighboring Swiss-style Hodel Residence & Tea House, a city historic landmark, said real estate agent Cheryl Johnson at Bob Taylor Properties. The Hodels brought Russian architect Alexander Zelenko to Los Angeles to design the home and tea house to celebrate their son’s 15th birthday, according to the historic landmark application. The buildings were built in 1921 but the Hodel family apparently lost ownership of the property a few years later during the Great Depression.
The property was later subdivided and the two corner lots – including the retaining walls and garage – have been put for sale for $110,000 (The Hodel house sits on a separate lot and is not for sale). So far, there have been no takers for the land, said Johnson. Of course, there are risks to owning hillside property lot framed with a wall of rock, as a recent story in The Eastsider showed. Still, the wall and and lot can’t help inspire dreams of what could be. “It would be cool if the Hermon community could come together and buy the property for a neighborhood garden, and preserve the old garage that way,” Johnson said.