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Triangle of History
New Veterans Memorial Calls Historical Site Home
November, 2005 - Issue #13
Not many residents remember the name Ed Pardee. Ed was the local sheriff back in the late 1800s and he owned a home on a piece of land bordered by Newhall Avenue, Market and Walnut streets. The home was originally built in 1890 to serve as the Good Templar's Lodge, a place Newhall cowboys could go to relax while still following the rules of Prohibition. Ed Pardee moved the home from its original spot on Pine Street, added onto the place and called it home for many years.

According to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, famed Western star Tom Mix used the Pardee home as a place to relax and some of the earliest John Ford-Harry Carey pictures were shot in and around the home.

In 1964, Ed Pardee's daughter sold the house to the Pacific Telephone Co. which used it as a telephone exchange. A few years later, it was leased to the SCV Boys Club (later Boys and Girls Club). The Pardee house was also used as the headquarters for the Chamber of Commerce.

Pacific Bell eventually donated the Pardee home to the Historical Society in 1992 and the house was moved down the street to Heritage Junction. For more than 10 years, the little triangle of land sat empty as trash collected and weeds grew.

Enter Warren Johnson. Looking for a spot to build a memorial to all Santa Clarita service veterans, Johnson and the Veterans Memorial Committee approached the city regarding the old Pardee property. With the assistance of Councilwoman Laurene Weste, state and federal funding was found to purchase and develop the property.

Once the property was purchased, the original designed was scrapped and a new one was developed. Today the old Pardee property is the home to the Santa Clarita Veterans Historical Plaza. Instead of weeds, the plaza features fountains and walkways, bricks and flags, beautiful lighting and a quiet place of reflection.

Committee member Pam Hogan said the idea of a Veteran's Memorial was to not only to bring honor to those who served in the military, but to educate the youth of the history of our country in times of conflict.

"When you go around and read the bricks family members have placed, it's a beautiful testimony of the work between the private sector and the public sector," Hogan said, giving much praise to the council members and the city park's department.

The bricks Hogan is speaking of are engraved with names of veterans and current military service personnel or those who just wanted to acknowledge the sacrifice of veterans. Donations for the bricks will help finance future projects including a bronze statue of Willy Johnston, a musician who at the age of 11 became the youngest recipient of the Medal of Honor. Johnston was awarded the medal for his gallantry during the Seven Day Battle and Peninsula Campaign in Virginia during the period from June 26 to July 1, 1862.

Other tributes will be added to the Veterans Historical Plaza including story stations and the history of the American nurse. The story stations will describe every conflict from 1776 forward and will also explain the history of the American flag. Weste said school children visiting other historic sites in the valley will be able to stop at the plaza to learn more about their country.

With Weste's known affection for animals, it is not surprising to hear there are plans to build a monument to Chips, a decorated dog from World War II. Chips, a German Shepard mix, guarded President Franklin D. Roosevelt and England's Prime Minister Winston Churchill, as well as pulling an assignment with General George Patton.

"It's an important way for the children to learn about conflict because it is something they can relate to," Weste said. "In most people's lives, the dog is part of the family."

Donors have been found for all the story stations, urns, drinking fountains, flags and flagpoles, Weste said. The City of Santa Clarita will maintain the park, while the Historical Veterans Memorial Committee continues to raise funds for ongoing expenses such as maintaining the flags.

A production of "A War Time Romance" written by Marilyn Hackett will be produced at the College of the Canyon's Vital Express Theater next year to help finance the Johnston statue.

"The park really has been an honor and tribute to all those who have served and acknowledges them in a beautiful way," Weste said. "(The park) has become a cornerstone for us in this incredible historic district honoring our past history and our pride in America. Everyone that comes here, feels good about our community and our passion for freedom."

It's been over a century since Ed Pardee and his friends have roamed the little triangle in downtown Newhall. No records were found indicating if Pardee ever served in the military, but it seems he would have been proud to have the community enjoy his little piece of land. Weste said people cannot do the future well unless they know the history of where they've been. The Veterans Historical Plaza holds a lot of community history and will continue to grow as new information and statues are added.

"And we're not even done yet," Weste said with a smile.

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For information on how to donate to the Historical Veterans Memorial Committee, or to purchase a brick or pin, contact Pam Hogan at 251-7870 or download an order form at www.santa-clarita.com.
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