Thursday, August 19, 2010

Big Santa Anita Canyon and Hollywood

Hikers who enjoy trails in Big Santa Anita Canyon above the town of Sierra Madre might be familiar with Hoegee's Trail Camp.

The campground is a reminder of the Hoegee Resort, started by Michigan-born Arie Hoegee in 1908.  He ran it along with his wife and four kids until 1920.  After several ownerships that followed, a fire destroyed the resort in 1953.

Hoegee's family manufactured tents.  His father, also named Arie, was born in the Netherlands and produced tents, awnings and canvas for beach-goers, campers, and wagon covers in Los Angeles through the late 1800s.

Arie (junior) had an older brother, William, who operated a large sporting goods store in downtown Los Angeles, on Main Street, the Wm. H. Hoegee Co.  In 1904, the store was reported to contain 90,000 square feet.  William was very active in community organizations, and he sponsored sports teams, including bowling and baseball.

William Hoegee lived in East Hollywood.  In 1904 he became president of the Hollywood Improvement Association.  The same year he became a trustee of the Los Feliz school district; he was one of the district members to choose the location of Hollywood High School in 1904; some time before 1907 he donated land at Vermont Avenue and Prospect Boulevard to build a community center and named it Hoegee Hall.

Most likely he participated with Hollywood boosters like Griffith J. Griffith (donor of Griffith Park) and Hobart Whitley ("Father of Hollywood") to campaign for a physical connection of the city of Los Angeles to East Hollywood, via the successful union in 1904 whereby Sunset Boulevard (in L.A.) joined Prospect Boulevard (the main portion which later was re-named Hollywood Boulevard).  This triumph was an economic boom to the city of Hollywood.

William Hoegee died in 1919, the same year as Griffith J. Griffith.  He left a considerable estate in East Hollywood, near Hillhurst Avenue and Los Feliz Boulevard.  One chunk of property was sold the following year to a Hollywood entertainer, Maurice Tourneur, who immediately commission the construction of a grand residence.  After a few years, the house changed hands to an actress, Madge Bellamy.  Since then, the Cedars, as the house became known, was reported to have been lived in by actress Norma Talmadge.  This factoid, true or false, has been perpetuated by real estate agents.  Talmadge Street is nearby, and it was named so as a tribute to the Talmadge sisters, Norma, Constance, and Natalie.

Today, the Hoegee name lives on, through the San Gabriel Mountain hiking trail, but also through several Southern California businesses that are in the sporting goods and awnings trade.  (Thanks to R. Kato for his research.)


  1. I believe Talmadge Avenue is so named in honor of Norma Talmadge and her sister Constance who were active at the Vitagraph Studio at the corner of Prospect and Franklin Aves. Franklin Ave is named after the director Sidney Franklin who also is associated with Vitagraph.

  2. I have in my posession a "California red Tent". manafactured by the Wm H. Hoegee Co. It looks like a Knight's Jousting tent. Is there anyplace I can find more information on this very old, very cool tent?