Lemon Heights has
become the Beverly Hills of North Tustin, but it was not always so posh.
The hillside was raw undeveloped land for many years. C. E. Utt and Sherman
Stevens, successful Tustin businessmen, were the first to recognize its
potential. They bought 600 acres of the hill in 1910 and improved it with
citrus orchards, including many lemon trees. Soon the area was known as
George E. Marcy, a wealthy Chicago
businessman who visited this area often, later bought most of the Utt/Stevens
property as well as acreage from others including James Irvine until he
accumulated a total of 17,000 acres. The headquarters for the Marcy Ranch
were on Newport Avenue, north of today's Barrett Lane. The majority of the
land was unfit for cultivation, but Marcy had other plans for it.
He planned to use about 300 acres to develop
a park similar to Smiley Heights, a beautiful park in Redlands. Since the
area had only one well, water for irrigation was brought from wells in
Tustin and stored in a large reservoir on the very top of the hill. Giant
trees, shady walks with an abundance of green planting and a lake with swans
added to the beauty of the area. Today, bounded by Cowan Heights, Skyline
and Equestrian Drives, it is a lovely residential area.
Access roads and scenic drives soon
intersected the hilly terrain. Visitors drove up the hill to enjoy both the
views and the park when it was completed. The roads were popular test sites
for those considering the purchase of an automobile. A vehicle that could
maneuver the steep inclines was powerful.
Utt, who controlled much of the water supply
through the Tustin Water Works, continued to grow citrus, grapes and peanuts
on about 200 acres of the land. Soon others were acquiring land in the area.
Samuel Armor's "History of Orange County California," published in 1921 by
the Historic Record Co. in Los Angeles, lists former Chicagoans Robert M.
Simons as owning 90 acres of oranges and lemons, and Dr. and Mrs.
Bartholomew as owners of 65 acres. Santa Ana residents purchasing property
on Lemon Heights included Arthur Lyon, who later reportedly refused $108,000
for 38 acres of citrus, and Dr. Wilella Waffle, who owned 30 acres of
Discussing the "fine view of the valleys and
plains, constituting the central and south portions of the county" that
could be seen from Lemon Heights, Armor predicted "doubtless many palatial
residences will be erected there in the near future, whose occupants may
thus perennially enjoy the beauties of nature enhanced by the arts of
The many multimillion-dollar homes covering
Lemon Heights today certainly support his prediction.