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David C. Cook's residence, Piru
Alternative Title
Security Pacific National Bank Photo Collection
Lewis, Jim
Date Created and/or Issued
Contributing Institution
Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Rights Information
Images available for reproduction and use. Please see the Ordering & Use page at http://tessa.lapl.org/OrderingUse.html for additional information.
Title supplied by cataloger.
Piru is a census-designated small town situated near the base of the Piru Mountains, where Piru Creek empties into the Santa Clara River, at the upper end of the Santa Clara Valley. The Tataviam Indians originally inhabited this area, which they named for the tule reeds growing along Piru Creek that they used to weave baskets. Originally pronounced "Peeroo", the accent was changed by train conductors who would shout "Pieroo" when coming into town. David Caleb Cook, a publisher of religious books from Illinois, was attracted to this area after reading Helen Jackson Hunt's "Ramona" and came to this valley with the idea of establishing a "Second Garden of Eden". Cook purchased Rancho Temescal from the Del Valle family in 1887, which was a 14,000-acre portion of Rancho Camulos, and proceeded to establish his idyllic town. He planted over 900 acres of fruits identified with the Biblical garden - apricots, dates, figs, grapes, olives and pomegranates. Prior to this, entrepreneurs in the region had begun extracting oil from the ground as early as the mid 1800s. This unrefined oil was a thick, sticky substance called asphaltum that was used to surface roads and seal roofs. By the 1880s, almost all of the State's oil production came from this region. Cook eventually sold his property to the Piru Oil and Land Company and returned to his publishing business in Illinois. The town of Piru grew little by little, but unfortunately never became the "Second Garden of Eden" Cook had hoped for. Adding insult to injury, on March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam broke, sending a torrent of water through the Santa Clara River Valley, causing the deaths of 400 people, many in Piru. As of the 2000 census, population was 1,196.
View of David C. Cook's lavish 3-story Queen Anne style mansion at the southwest corner of Main and Center streets. The residence, which came to be known as the Piru Mansion or simply "The Mansion", was designed by architects Joseph and Samuel Newsom and built by Selwyn Shaw. Prominent features include moon windows, recessed arched balconies, various wood shingle patterns, carved wrought iron railings and a Sespe stone foundation. Other features include lush landscaping, a circular shaped outhouse, a Victorian carriage house and a guesthouse, built with local stone that was designed by Roy Wilson. The main house burned to the ground in 1980 but was meticulously replicated through the use of historic photos and floor plans.
1 photographic print :b&w ;26 x 21 cm.
Photographic prints
Security Pacific National Bank Collection
Dwellings--California--Ventura County
Architecture, Domestic--California--Ventura County
Cook, David C.(David Caleb),1850-1927
Newsom, Joseph C
Newsom, Samuel
Shaw, Selwyn
Ventura County (Calif.)

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