Historic Place of the Month - July 2011

Congratulations to Julie Shy-Sobol who was the first person to correctly guess that July’s Historic Place of the Month was:


The William C. Masson Residence

The Masson Residence is an excellent example of a homestead home built during this time period and represents the early settlement of Calabasas. It is also the only remaining homestead in the city and one of the few remaining in Southern California.

The one-story single-family home is made primarily of post and beam construction and the floor joists are supported by oak tree branches. The present appearance dates from 1924 when the residence was remodeled and expanded to include the addition of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, living room and cellar. The Masson Residence has a new roof and narrow lap siding. The main portion of the residence is covered by a side-facing gabled roof and many of the windows are flanked by shutters. A front-facing gabled bay projects from the south end of the residence. The residence sites on a stone foundation; the same stone was used for the chimney on the side of the home.

The Masson Residence was built during the “Homesteading Days” in the early 1900s. The Homestead Act was signed in law by President Lincoln in 1862. Most of what today is Calabasas was undeveloped public land and not part of the old California Ranchos. At this time, settlers rushed to file claims to acquire 160 acres of land by way of the Homestead Acts. Claimants were required to live on the land for 5 years and improve it, before they could get their final land patent. William C. Masson received a land patent in 1904 for his 160 acres. The Masson Residence, located on Old Topanga Canyon Road was strategically placed on the only route to Santa Monica, where the 1910’s Port of Los Angeles Long Wharf was built. Therefore, this location was beneficial to settlers because goods were accessible to them and transported through this road. The house was built about 1900 and began as a one room house (the left side of the house when looking at the front of the house). The house did not have the traditional stud framing and instead, the planks that were used as the siding for the house, also provided the structural support. The additions to the home depict how homestead houses evolved over time. As families grew and as areas developed, homesteaders could afford to add onto their homes.

Today the house is part of Headwaters Corner, the headquarters for the Mountains Restoration Trust.

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