Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
California Star Oil Guest House & Office
Newhall, California

Click image to enlarge

A couple of old buildings in Newhall should be easy to identify, right? Think again. In this case, there are things we know, things we think we know, and things we don't know.

What we know is that local historicans Jerry Reynolds and Maggi Perkins — both working off of Maggi's grandfather A.B. Perkins' notes — identified the structures in this photograph as the California Star Oil Works' guest house and office on Pine Street, where company financier D.G. Scofield and visiting dignitaries stayed when they were in town. Further, we know Jerry Reynolds said it was called the Newhall Cottage. It's better known today as the Star Oil House.

One little thing we don't know is the date of this photograph. It might date from about 1962 when local auto dealer and hobbyist-photographer Ted Lamkin accompanied his friend A.B. Perkins on a photo tour of the Newhall area. At least we know it's about that age, and we'll explain why we know that in a moment.

The big thing we don't know "for sure" is exactly where on Pine Street these structures stood.

Maggi Perkins put them "on Pine Street close to the Pioneer Oil Refinery" (Maggi Perkins 2010:55). That would place them south and west of Newhall Avenue. That is not possible unless William S. Hart secretly built a second mansion.

Jerry Reynolds put them at 24158 Pine Street and said, "the structure was torn down in 1967" (Reynolds 1985: unnumbered penultimate page). (He was referring specifically to the guest house in this context.)

Let's be clear: It is highly likely that these structures were razed in or about 1967.

The uncertainty lies with the address. As of the early 21st Century, 24158 Pine Street is no longer a valid address. Instead, it is part of the property at 24148 Pine Street. This latter address, 24148, was the location of two early-20th-Century homes that were misidentified as the "Star Oil House" when they were razed in 2015 after the main house on that property (24148) was destroyed by an accidental fire.

In truth, the real Star Oil House, shown here, was already long gone.

If there be any doubt, the structures shown here are board and batten. The structures removed in 2015 had their original shiplap siding.

Reynolds was probably correct about the location. According to the Los Angeles County Assessor in 2017, two narrow, unaddressed parcels are located next door to the north of the parcel that is the true 24148 Pine Street. (On the ground, it's all one property, but in Assessor records, it's not one parcel. It's three.) The Star Oil guest house and office, shown here, might have sat on the two unaddressed parcels, and after the structures were razed and nothing built in their place, the address 24158 was abandoned. That happens. That's how it works. No structure, no address. Vacant land.

Ultimately the photograph itself tells us roughly where these structures stood.

What you're viewing is the side/back side of the buldings, looking southwest. You do not see Pine Street in the foreground.

There is another photograph that shows the front of the house, with its front door opening onto Pine Street. That view is to the east — which we know because only one side of Pine Street, the east side, was built.

Hart Mansion, ~1950s; click to view.

Look closely at upper left. ("Click image to enlarge.") You see what you would expect to see if you're standing at the back (or back corner) of 24158 Pine Street in the 1950s or early 1960s and looking southwest: the Hart Mansion in the distance, with 30-year-old trees around it. Compare the retaining wall around the mansion to this 1950s view. It's a different angle, but it is the same wall, the same hill, and the mansion actually can be seen more clearly here.

We would probably place the Star Oil House and office on Pine Street between 4th and 5th streets, probably just north of 24148 Pine. Or if you're looking at it in person, the north side of the 24148 property. Which will also lose its address if nothing is built there to replace the structures that were removed in 2015.

2017 Google Maps view (click to enlarge)

AP1009: 9600 dpi jpeg from copy print.
ex-24158 Pine Street

House & Office ~1962

24148 Demolition (Not Star Oil House)

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