By Jane Petty Janz, Special to the Independent
First on the scene was stagecoach driver Fernando Farman, who arrived in 1892 and ferried passengers and supplies along Laguna Canyon Road, then the only route into town. He, his wife, and his son Oscar Farman lived in the old Rogers’ ranch house, now the site of City Hall.
The second family involved the Skidmores. In 1901, Oscar married Lee, one of four children of the widow Catherine Skidmore, who came to Laguna with her children in 1900 when she married homesteader Nate Brooks.
Around 1908 Oscar and Lee Farman built a home at 422 North Coast Highway, then known as Electric Way. At 434 North Coast Highway is the Oscar Warling home which is still there.
The Aufdenkamps were the third early family involved. Thelma Farman fell in love with Lynn Aufdenkamp, who she married in 1923. His family had arrived in 1914 and lived on Forest Avenue. They ran a box-ball bowling parlor, which in 1915 was converted into a movie tent that showed silent movies. Lynn hand-cranked the movie projector. They went on to build several movie theaters, the final one built in 1935 is still in existence as South Coast Cinema.
Thelma’s parents provided the young couple space to build their own home next to the Farman house. Lynn said he bought the materials and townspeople just showed up to help put up the house at 416 North Coast Highway.
The original Farman house is visible behind the one built in 1923 by Lynn and Thelma Aufdenkamp.
After the Farman patriarch died in 1938, the old family house was moved off the property and replaced by apartments. The two properties were tied together by an arch and called Aldeita Court. When it was completed a picture of it appeared in Architectural Digest. The Aufdenkamps made this their home for twenty five years, and Lee Farman lived for years in the upstairs rear apartment.
Lynn and Thelma added a garage and extra room to their original house at 416 for Lynn’s ham radio and organ.
Lee Farman under the distinctive Aldeita Court arch. Today, Tracey Mascaritolo and Martin Roberts run galleries in separate storefronts in the property, while residents occupy rear apartments around a courtyard of brick as uneven as cobblestones. Though there have been some alterations to the property, the structure and the original flavor still survive.
Jane Petty Janz is a third generation Laguna Beach resident