By Carol Libby
Elias Jackson Baldwin (Lucky), was an inventive businessman who never let anything get in his way to thwart his ideas and goals. When the great land boom of 1885-88 took over the nation, he saw an opportunity to make “a bundle” on his prime ranch property. Thus, 18 years before Arcadia became incorporated (1903) he began selling property. To entice buyers, he built the Oakwood Hotel on the southwest corner of First Avenue and Santa Clara Street, across from the newly completed Arcadia Santa Fe railway depot.
The Oakwood was a lavish facility with 35 rooms, all with a fireplace and hot and cold running water. From his nationally renowned Tallac Hotel at Lake Tahoe, he brought its staff and personnel to run it. The finest food and famed Baldwin liquors and brandies were served.
He also spent lavishly to upgrade his “home place” which was a tourist attraction for the visiting easterners staying at the Raymond in Pasadena. Scores of laborers sere put to work grading streets and planting eucalyptus and pepper trees beside them. Lots sold from $300 to $400 each.
Alas. a national depression began in 1890 and Baldwin found himself in desperate need of cash. Land was not selling and business was not good. Funds for his Acadia township dried up, and the property became neglected. He borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars from the bank and the mortgage held amounted to $1,688,000 in 1898.