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The Questers Oak of the Golden Dream Chapter 381 reveal the restored Edison House to public

Posted: July 25, 2009 4:42 p.m.
Updated: July 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Sue Yurosek, President of the Oak of the Golden Dream chapter of the Questers, introduces members and contributors who worked on the restoration project during the ceremony at Hart Park on May 30.

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History is not just a dream of the past for members of The Questers' Oak of the Golden Dream Chapter 381 of Santa Clarita.

The organization dedicated to the restoration, preservation and education of historical landmarks presented the completion of their newest restoration project, The Edison House, on May 30.

Over 60 guests enjoyed an afternoon amidst the spreading oaks of Heritage Junction Park, where the restored Edison House resides for public viewing.

The chapter's presentation brought Quester guests, city officials and community members together to partake in a blast from the past.

"It is so important to look back at the history of our town," said Chapter Treasurer Roberta Harris. "What we learn from the past, we can hopefully apply to the future."

Past met present day as the chapter welcomed guests through the front doors of The Edison House, one of a series of cottages built by the Southern California Edison Company to house employees working on power lines and substations in Newhall in 1919.

Since it was built, the house has undergone a unique history all its own.

The house was moved west of Saugus in 1925 when the new Saugus Substation was completed and five more identically structured houses were built to accommodate the growing number of workers in the area.

The two-bedroom homes were built to accommodate the Edison worker and their families, who would live together in the home during the duration of employment with the company.

After about a year, the worker would be reassigned to a new location for work and the family would move on to make way for a new one.

"It's interesting to think of the many different people who lived in each house," said Dee Roche, Quester member and co-chairwoman of The Edison House.

But the histories of the other cottages would never be told.

In 1972, the cottages were sold to the Newhall Land and Farming Company and in 1989 the Edison House was donated to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society and moved to Heritage Junction Historic Park in Newhall.

The Edison House is the last remaining original structure still standing, after the other cottages were burned down by the Los Angeles County Fire Department while being used in a routine training exercise.

Today, the house is open to be viewed by visitors at Heritage Junction in Newhall, who may wander through the restored abode and get a taste of local history.

"We are dedicated to preserving history and keeping things as close to their original state as possible," said Harris. "We don't change anything to make it better or different. We simply want to preserve and restore the richness of our landmarks."

Appreciating local landmarks is something Harris and her fellow Questers know all about.

The Questers is a nonprofit international organization, founded in Pennsylvania in 1944, to stimulate appreciation in antiquities and encourage the preservation and restoration of historic landmarks.

The Santa Clarita Chapter was established in 1969 and has set forth to restore and protect the valley's own historical artifacts. In addition to the Oak of the Golden Dreams chapter, the Heritage Reflections and Canyon Questers Chapters were also instrumental in restoring the Edison house to its prime condition, collaborating on the project since 2000.

"It was great to have everyone work together to make this restoration happen," said Roche. "Everyone pitched in something or added something special."

Authentic artifacts and design elements were included in the house to represent a close depiction of what life was like when families lived in the house.

A Kellogg wooden phone was placed on the kitchen wall, where the Questers felt a phone may have been used.
An Edison phonograph, original to the house, was added in the living room to show what families would have done to entertain themselves in the evenings.

Each item in the home had either been original to the house, or came from a private antique collection from members. An array of display items were donated by the family of past Quester member Sue Zepezauer, which were dated prior to the year 1930.

"Some of the items her family donated were just perfect and we couldn't be more grateful to receive them," Harris said.

Items such as 1920's bathing costumes, bed sheets, bath linens and even toiletries are now on display in the bedrooms, living room, bathroom and kitchen.

Members of the Heritage Reflections chapter took on the task of restoring the house's bathroom, which consists of a large footed basin tub and even a hand-painted booster seat for potty training any children who may have once lived in the historical home.

"We wanted to put things in the house that we felt may have been here already in that time," said Harris. "Often times, the workers brought their families and would have multiple children living in the same room."

One room in the house was designated as a child's room filled with toys, games and clothes of the era.

The Canyon chapter worked on the kitchen, which boasted black and white checkered flooring, an old-fashioned refrigerator and an oven which was original to the house.

"It took a lot of work but it's worth it to see the result," said Roche. "Some people have even said they want to live here."

The efforts paid off for the The Questers of Canyon, Heritage Reflections and Oak of the Golden Dream when they were awarded the Santa Clarita Historical Society's Golden Spike Award for the successful completion of this major project.

Historical Society Vice President Jeff Boultinghouse presented the award, followed by Councilwoman Laurene Weste presenting certificates of recognition from The City of Santa Clarita and Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

Certificates from Assemblyman Cameron Smyth and California Senator, George Runner were also presented to the Questers for the completion of the project.

One guest in the audience had seen it all before.

Virginia Carlin lived in the Edison House as a child and added her own touches to the restoration of the home by donating pictures of herself and her childhood friends, which show the houses in their original location, near Magic Mountain, nearly 90 years ago.

The newly restored Edison House is on display to the public free of charge and is open for viewing on the first Sunday of every month from 1 to 4 pm.

The Questers hope that this opportunity will give visitors a chance to partake in a look back to much simpler times.

"We have classrooms of children coming in here from the local schools on field trips and they are fascinated with the items in the house," said Harris. "When they looked at the wall phone, one little boy even asked, ‘How did they carry that around?'"

The Questers delight in teaching children of today's era a thing or two about the past.

"The students always ask us, ‘What did people do for entertainment?' We tell them they listened to the radio and played games together," said Roche. "We explain that it was a simpler time and families spent a lot of time together, especially at night."

Teaching students of all ages about their local history is one thing the Questers need no excuse to do.

The Edison House is one way they can share these historical facts with others.

"Looking into the past really is so important in learning who we are and where we came from," said Harris.

"It's really just about broadening horizons and raising people's awareness that this much history exists out here."

But they need more help in continuing their mission to protect history, one project at a time.

With over 900 chapters and 15,000 members in the United States and Canada, the Questers believe there is always room for more.

The Oak of the Golden Dream Chapter is down to only fifteen members and needs new membership to survive economic challenges, as well as to enhance work on the future projects.

The Questers are celebrating their 40th anniversary as a nonprofit organization in the valley and the local chapters look forward to more preservation, so as to not make historic restoration a thing of the past.

For more information about "The Questers", visit www.questers1944.org or contact Roberta Harris at roberta@myquesters.com

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