“Most people will probably recognize this home at 1195 N. Washington Ave. on the southwest corner of Washington and Lincoln Avenues as ‘The Lassie House’. From December 1954 to September 1959, it was home to the Bion A. Provost family, whose son Jon played the part of ‘Timmy’ in the hit TV series ‘Lassie’. But there is a story behind this house – and the property it now sits on – that spans the course of half a century.
In March 1905, William T. Abbott purchased the Haskin orange grove at this location, moving his wife Nettie and two daughters – Mary Beth and Moneta Ruth – from Nebraska to Pomona. From here, he started life as an orange rancher. The family lived together in a home that had the address of ‘Southwest corner of Washington and Olive’ (later on in 1924, Olive Avenue would become Lincoln Ave. Whether there was an existing home on this property in 1905 cannot be determined). The two daughters attended Pomona High School. Mary Beth, the oldest, became a local schoolteacher in Pomona, and then later in Glendale. Moneta Ruth met Harry B. Westgate, who had obtained his law degree from the University of Maine’s College of Law in 1913, and moved to California and settled in Pomona the following year, getting admitted to the California Bar in June. He and Moneta Ruth were married on October 3, 1914. William Abbott died in April 1911, with his wife Nettie following him four years later in February 1915. It appears that after their passing, the two daughters inherited the home and orange grove, and it then became the home of Beth, Ruth, and Harry. Beth herself never married, and eventually moved from the home to Glendale in the 1930s. The family continued to operate the orange grove after Mr. Abbott’s death.
Harry Westlake would go on to become a well-known attorney in Pomona. He also served as the Postmaster in Pomona from the years 1922 to 1935. And in 1938, he was elected Police Judge, a post he retained until 1952, when the court became Pomona Municipal Court. Afterwards, he returned to the law practice. Harry’s wife Moneta Ruth died in March 1949.
Prior to August 1927, the home which would later go on to become the famous ‘Lassie House’ was owned by George A. Lathrop (vice president at the National Bank of Pomona) and his wife Cora. The two-story house was built around 1902, and was located at 210 W. Holt on the southwest corner of Holt and Main. When George and Cora apparently left Pomona, the property was sold to Messrs. King, Booth, and Nesbit, who were issued a building permit to construct a store building at that location. And in fact, that building does indeed still exist! Some might remember the Booth Bros. real estate office on that corner. It appears that Harry Westlake saw the opportunity to purchase and have the house moved to his property. Mr. Westlake was issued a permit for $3,500 to remodel the house. Before it could be moved onto the property, however, it was first necessary to have their existing house moved to another location.
In order for it to be moved, the house was cut into two parts, with the smaller section being moved first along Holt Ave. to San Antonio Ave. Before it could continue north, though, many tree limbs had to be removed – and when the larger, second half of the house was moved, this resulted in even more trees being damaged along San Antonio. As it reached the middle of the block between Pasadena and San Francisco, it was stopped due to protests from the residents, who insisted that the porch attached to the house be removed in order to avoid damaging the trees any further. More trimming of the tree limbs took place, and the house continued on over the protests (Progress Bulletin – Sept. 3, 1927).
In 1954, Harry Westlake supposedly decided he no longer needed such a large home, selling it to the B.A. Provost family, who had moved there from Pasadena. Afterwards, Mr. Westlake moved to a duplex at 200 E. Columbia, where he lived until his passing on February 4, 1973 at the age of 84. The Provost family later sold their home in September 1959 and moved to Beverly Hills.”