These photos by Ken Gilliland show flowers in the same genus as the ones Elmer remembers from his childhood... violets... california peonies... indian paintbrush... lupines... Aside from recollections of the Lorenzs, I found no official record of the plant life that once existed on this vast site.


In 1945 Elmer Lorenz bought a property on Monte Bonito Drive. On the back end of the property, a seasonal stream ran down a ravine.

The stream originated at the site of the current Eagle Rock Recreation Center, which used to be rolling terrain. Here, Elmer remembers seeing violets, lupines, California peonies, Mariposa Lilies, California poppies, Indian paintbrushes. In an interview recorded by the Historical Society, Elmer's mother, Anneta Lorenz, describes how "local residents came and picked [flowers] by the armfuls." (A photo of Anneta Lorenz with such an armful of flowers at the nearby site of Eagle Rock Reservoir, appears in Eric Warren's pictorial history of Eagle Rock.)

An avid horticulturalist, Elmer planned to plant Louisiana irises alongside the stream in his backyard. Such irises grow in swamp conditions but go dormant in the summer-- in sync with the California seasons. Soon, however, the state bought the back half of his property for freeway construction. The freeway offramp now stands where a beautiful clump of old sycamores once stood.

Meanwhile, the Eagle Rock Recreation Center was built, providing much-anticipated sports fields for neighborhood recreational use.

Garrett Eckbo, Landscape Architect, wrote of the challenges of the project: "The site was 18 acres of rough topography-- two large gullies framing a knoll on which stands the well-known community building designed by Richard Neutra. In order to capture the space needed for community facilities, the gullies were filled and leveled, an operation requiring over 100,000 cu yd of earth..."