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P.O. Box 15967
San Diego, CA 92175
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Franklin and Helen Boulter / Martin V. Melhorn House

Historical Landmark No. 823
Franklin and Helen Boulter / Martin V. Melhorn House

Unknown, Architect
Martin V. Melhorn, Builder


Mission Hills Community / North Florence Heights / Kate O. Sessions Potential Thematic Historical District

Historical Landmark No. 823 - Designated July 2007

Association with Famed Horticulturalist Kate O. Sessions
The Boulter / Melhorn House is important not only for its architecture, but also for its role within the historical development of the North Florence Heights portion of Mission Hills as it transitioned from agricultural acreage lands into residential development within the greater Mission Hills mesa.

The house and the underlying ownership of the property and the entire block have a strong connection with pioneer horticulturist Kate O. Sessions, who owned the adjacent blocks to the east, west, and north of Block 5 as part of her nursery operation in the early part of the 1920s.

1921 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing location of house, which was across the street from Sessions' nursery.

This map shows the tracts Kate Sessions either owned or leased in the North Florence Heights community.
From Hay Fields to Lath Houses to Residential Development

In this case, the history of this block plays a special role in the community in that it is one of the few blocks that Kate Sessions and her brother Frank Sessions did not own during their period of occupation and nursery business in North Florence Heights between 1903 - 1928.

Mrs. Dora Engler, also known as Mrs. Doretha Engler, purchased all of Block 5 in North Florence Heights from Marcus and Rebecca Schiller on February 23, 1894. The entire Block remained in family ownership until September of 1919, when they entered into a mortgage / purchase arrangement with the Alberta Security Company.

To date, Dora Engler and her grown children Mary Catherine Engler Bleifuss (husband Otto Bleifuss), Martin Engler (wife Mattie), John Engler, and Mrs. Anna Engler Kiehl, have not been identified for their involvement in North Florence Heights in the period that coincided with that of Kate and Frank Sessions.

This is especially important because the Englers controlled the entire block immediately adjacent to Sessions Nursery. In addition, Superior Court and probate records for Dora Engler show that from 1916 through 1919, Dora’s son Martin Engler and his wife Mattie lived at 4106 Lark Street. During this time, Kate Sessions owned that block and had her house at the north end at Montecito.

The Engler family interests between 1894 and 1921 not only included property ownership of Block 5 in North Florence Heights, but also a loan to Kate Sessions in 1916 that involved the block immediately east.

What were the Englers doing there in relation to Sessions and how were they using their large tract of property?

This study was not able to determine who was responsible for the vast “hay fields” that were being farmed on this mesa prior to 1903. Land records studied do not record a lease arrangement for this area and ownership records, while complete, also do not answer this question.

The story of this house now adds new information to this greater historical context. It also opens up further historical associations and questions that should be explored in the future as additional houses in the community are studied for potential landmarking and neighborhoods are proposed for district status.

This is an excellent example of how one house can add important community context that adds to a better understanding of the development of a neighborhood.

Permission to use this material is granted provided it is attributed as follows:

Copyright © 2010 Ronald V. May and Dale Ballou May, Legacy 106, Inc., www.legacy106.com

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Archaeology & Historic Preservation
Historic House Research • Mills Act Designation