|On May 20, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act
which allowed any U.S. citizen or intended citizen over the age of 21 to
acquire up to 160 acres of federal land in the West. In return, the
homesteaders had to pay a small fee, make improvements to the land, and
live on the property for at least five years.
In the spring of 1886, James David and Rhoda Jane Hill homesteaded 110 acres in Chatsworth Park South. It is a portion of their property which is known as "The Homestead Acre," where the CHS is located.
The Hills had eight children, two of whom were born in Chatsworth. Their seventh child, Minnie, was born in November 1886 and lived the majority of her life in Chatsworth. Between 1911 and 1913, the Hill family built a cottage on Homestead Acre. Minnie Hill and her husband, Alfred Palmer, lived in this house, which is now known as the Hill-Palmer Homestead Cottage. Minnie lived there until shortly before her death in March 1981.
The Hill-Palmer Cottage is the only remaining homestead cottage in the San Fernando Valley. Surrounded by a garden and fruit trees, many of which were planted by Minnie Hill-Palmer, the Hill-Palmer Cottage was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks owns the Homestead Acre and maintains the exterior of the Hill-Palmer Cottage and museum. The CHS, as conservator of the property, maintains the interior of the house and museum. In addition, volunteers from the CHS develop, plant and maintain the gardens.
The CHS docent program provides knowledgeable trained volunteers to lead tours of the cottage from 1-4 P.M. the first Sunday of every month. Special tours of at least 10 or more people can be arranged by telephoning the CHS at (818) 882-5614.
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