extension of the railroads, would reshape Burbank. Dr. David Burbank,
the city's founder and a successful developer, owned vast amounts of
this open space and served as one of the directors of the Providencia
Land, Water and Devselopment Co. The company, with the help of Dr.
Burbank, embarked on an ambitious plan for development.
Plans for development began with the building of wide roads and
stores in the downtown area, including the construction of a
horse-drawn streetcar line that went from the Southern Pacific train
depot to Sunset Canyon. This streetcar would take newcomers to the
"Boom Houses" that were being constructed (the Mentzer House, the
sole surviving "Boom House," is now part of the Gordon R. Howard
Museum complex at 1035 Olive Ave.).
There was one particular obstacle to Burbank's development: There
was no place for new arrivals to stay once they arrived. Dr.
Burbank and his son-in-law, John W. Griffin, solved that dilemma with
the construction of the Burbank Villa, the city's first hotel.
Construction on the Burbank Villa began in 1887 and was completed
in 1888 at a cost of $30,000. Workers lived in tents during
construction and regularly fought off rattlesnakes after a hard day's
labor. When completed, the three-story Victorian hotel was the
grandest structure in Burbank and was intended to impress those who
had just arrived. In less than a year, Providencia Land, Water and
Develop- ment Co. saw sales reach $475,000.
The Burbank Villa quickly became the social hub of the young town.
The hotel was managed by D.D. Clemence, who ensured that his guests
received the royal treatment. The large and lavishly decorated rooms
and services were foreign to many of the visitors and tourists who
stayed there. Guests were clearly impressed with the Burbank Villa,
and it contributed greatly to people's attraction to Burbank.
The land boom of the 1880s, however, collapsed. Only a handful of
"Boom Houses" were constructed. The new arrivals that flowed into
Burbank dried up and the Burbank Villa's business suffered
dramatically. No longer able to sustain itself as a business, the