Richard E. Nickel home at 31823 Crown Valley Road (SW corner of Crown Valley and Cory).
Judging from the height of the trees, this photo probably dates from the 1930s, when the property was owned by Albert W. and Annie Freese.
And because no retaining wall is visible in front of the home, it's probably earlier than the Great Flood of March 1938. The retaining wall was added
sometime after that.
According to Meryl Adams (1988:65), Richard E. Nickel — the so-called "Father of Acton" and the town's second permanent resident, having married the daughter of its first — started construction on this house for his young family in 1895 and completed it in 1896. However, this might be a bit late. According to L.A. County Assessor records, the 1,216-square-foot, 3-plus-1 home has a construction date of 1891.
Nickel rented out the home when he moved to the San Francisco area at the beginning of the 20th Century.
According to Adams, Albert W. Freese arrived in Acton in 1903 and served as a Southern Pacific Railroad section foreman for 32 years. In 1935 — apparently upon his
retirement — Albert and his wife Annie bought the Nickel home. Annie Freese died just five years later in 1940, followed by Albert in 1958. "Mr. Freese put in the
18-inch retainer wall for flood protection, and also put the white stucco on the original house," Adams writes (1988:391).
"The home was noted for the roses maintained by Mr. Freese," Adams adds.
About the contributor.
Don Milburn received the original photograph from his mother, Marie Milburn. Marie and her husband Jack Milburn had come to Acton in the 1940s and lived at the John LaBadie ranch on Hubbard Road. Don remembers that "Grampa John" LaBadie's morning routine was to "hang the outgoing mail bag onto mast by the railroad tracks. The Southern Pacific train would toss the incoming Acton mail bag onto the ground and a mechanical arm would grab the outgoing mail bag and haul it into the train. It was great fun for us kids to chase down the mailbag for Grampa John and drag it to his car for him."
In 1950 the Milburns moved to a house at Crown Valley and Soledad Canyon Road. Says Don: "Dad worked for L.A. Country at Acton Rehab center in the mornings and remodeled houses in the afternoons and evenings. Mom worked at the Acton school for many years and then worked at Acton Rehab for a long time. Both mom and dad retired from Acton Rehab."
1. See Meryl Adams 1988:395.