Chatsworth is one of the oldest communities in the San Fernando Valley. It is now a suburb within the greater Los Angeles area but it started out as Chatsworth Park when the very first subdivision map was filed with the Los Angeles County Recorder's Office on March 10, 1888. The map was filed by George R. Crow.
The land had been surveyed in 1887 by Charles T. Healey and William F. Sweeney.
Streets were named and the area was planned in sections. It was laid out in 10-acre plots to accommodate family farms which were popular at the time.
Only three streets were named; Ben Porter Avenue, Devonshire Avenue and Fernando Avenue. However Devonshire Avenue was different from the Devonshire Street used today. The name Chatsworth Park came from the Duke of Devonshire's palatial estate in England. The estate is beautiful and is surrounded by an 11-mile park.
The use of the name Devonshire speaks of a familiarity with the area. It is believed that the men who planned the project were of English descent.
Later in 1893 another map was filed by the San Fernando Valley Improvement Co. with W. B. Barber as president. The map was called a "Plat of Chatsworth Park Townsite" and it was filed on August 31, 1893. This second map had more information and many more streets were named. There was a main street and a shopping section planned down by the railroad station which is near where Marilla Street crosses Topanga Canyon Boulevard today. Many of the streets on the second map were named for other states in our country.
The date of March 10, 1888 is used as the birthdate of the community and this year The Chatsworth Historical Society celebrated 122 years of local history.
Each year the Society serves a big decorated cake on the meeting night closest to the date. The people who have lived here the longest are invited to come and celebrate the date. Most recently two local ladies were invited to cut the cake. They are Mrs. Lila Swartz Schepler , who served out the term of the founding president Charles "Chuck" Janess, and Mrs. Valeta Butler Koller, who is a native of Chatsworth.
Mrs. Schepler was vice president of the fledgling Society when it began and was very active in forming the Society. Charles "Chuck" Janess was the lay leader at the First Methodist Church and was elected president of the new group when it began.
However, he had a heart attack and Mrs. Schepler finished out his term, then served her own two terms. In 1976 Mrs. Schepler again served as president when the Pioneer Church was moved to Oakwood Memorial Park and rededicated.
Mrs. Koller spent her early years in Chatsworth, moved away, then returned and continues to live here. There wasn't a hospital in the Valley back in 1922 when Mrs. Koller was "on the way" and so she was born in the hospital where her mother's doctor sent his patients in Alhambra.
At that time women stayed two weeks in the hospital and so Valeta was brought home to Chatsworth when she was two weeks old. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James "Jim" Butler an early rancher who owned the very first local super market. It was Hughes Market and it was located where Ralph's Market is today. Mrs. Koller and Mrs. Schepler are both well-known Chatsworth Boosters.
If you would like to learn more about other people from the past you may visit the local museum at The Homestead Acre, 10385 Shadow Oak Drive, within Chatsworth Park South at the west end of Devonshire Street. The museum is open the first Sunday of every month from 1-4 p.m. There is no charge and plenty of free parking.