1959. The Early Days. Do you Know What Lomita Means?

In 1959, Ernie Thomas found property he thought might be of interest for developer, Hugh Codding. At the time, Hugh was building the Coddingtown Shopping Center and was thinking of establishing a cemetery in the area. Ernie’s wife, Alice, wisely told Hugh that if he built a cemetery here he wouldn’t have any customers for Coddingtown! The property, thought to have been originally owned by Pedrotti, began to take its new shape. Alice Thomas gave the subdivision its name: Lomita Heights.  Lomita means “little hill.” She also gave the streets their names. Codding and Thomas began construction on their homes shortly thereafter.

Ben and Grace Codding Cummings followed. Their daughter designed the sign at the entrance to the neighborhood. The original sign read “Lomitas Heights” in error and was corrected to “Lomita Heights” in 1975. Some of the other first families are Gordon, Hilliard, Thompsen, Bartolomei, Crawford, Isaccson and Hutchinson. Vadon started building his home in 1963.

The Herb and Claudine Hilliard family were the first to live in Lomita Heights. Their home on Encina Court was completed in 1961. They had sheep and horses and their children rode all over the neighborhood. The next family was June and Glenn Best. Then the Mulkey’s, in the Chalet Style house on Miraloma, then the Codding’s followed by the Oretzky’s, in the spiral staircase house on Miraloma. Glenn Best and Hugh Codding were in the Seabee’s together and when they came home they began to build homes, “For VETERANS BY VETERANS.”

Other families to arrive were the Groth’s, Pickett’s, Lostovic’s, Chenoweth’s, and the Cleek’s. Dorothe and Bill Hutchinson, Marci Thompson, Dick and Marlys Codding, and Evelyn Bartolomei were some others. Hugh built a shed that became his elephant house! He actually kept an elephant there — rumors of it being a political statement surfaced. School children would be treated to a field trip to visit the elephant in Santa Rosa! Hugh also kept a live jaguar in his laundry room, in a cage of course. He was an avid hunter and eventually created the Codding Museum on Summerfield Road where his hunting trophies were displayed.

In those early days when the Hilliard’s moved in, Buena Vista was a dirt road, not yet paved. They had to drive past pavers and graders to get to their home. They even drove to the end of Buena Vista to use an old dirt road for the trip down the Moving Mountain side of the hill. This is where Home Depot is today.


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