Park History

The early years

In the early 20th century, our headquarters was a quiet, chaparral-covered hilltop inhabited only by native plants and animals. That changed in 1916, when the now-famous water engineer William Mulholland set up a field office here, while building the nearby Franklin Canyon Reservoir. In 1923, the City of Los Angeles named Mulholland Drive after him.

 

The fire department opens shop

In 1924, the Los Angeles Fire Department took over the site and turned it into our city’s first wildfire-fighting station. Two families patrolled the hills on horseback watching for fires.

A long line of garages near our current Nursery and Environmental Learning Center was built in the 1930s when Model T fire trucks replaced the horses. (The horse stables would later become TreePeople’s seedling nursery.) The old hose-drying tower still stands today.

 

Firefighters green the hilltop

The original Fire Station 108 was on 12 acres of land, mostly shrubs and chaparral. However, the fire chief had a green thumb and a friend at a plant nursery. The firemen planted many species of plants and trees around the site including deodar cedar, redwood and eucalyptus. They eventually built a nursery and a greenhouse and placed sprinkler pipes along the trails to water the newly planted forest.

 

Andy Lipkis sees an opportunity

In 1974, TreePeople Founder and President Andy Lipkis, stumbled upon the old Fire Station 108 in Coldwater Canyon Park. The aging buildings, abandoned nursery and sage-covered hills seemed a commanding resource for environmental healing and education. Lipkis successfully campaigned city officials to consent for TreePeople volunteers to utilize the nursery for thousands of seedlings.

 

TreePeople becomes caretaker

In 1977, the fire station moved to a new location a half mile up the road and the fire department gave the land to the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. TreePeople became the caretaker of the park in November of that year and we continue to operate and maintain it today with help from a team of caring volunteers.

 

A new dawning

TreePeople recently celebrated the opening of our Center for Community Forestry, where the old Fire Station 108 once stood. The center’s state-of-the-art “green” facilities have given our city a new source of inspiration and education to support Angelenos in healing our threatened urban ecosystems.