Rolling Hills History

Rolling Hills (Excerpts from Rolling Hills The Early Years by A.E. Hanson)

The Rolling Hills story begins in 1930, at which time 16,000 acres of the Palos Verdes Peninsula was owned by the Palos Verdes Corporation of which Frank A. Vanderlip, a New York banker, was President and majority stockholder. This ranch had ten miles of shoreline starting just south of Lunada Bay. Vanderlip’s plan for the development of Portuguese Bend was right but the time was wrong.

A.E. Hanson was named landowner by Vanderlip to develop the community that he acquired in 1913. Hanson sold the idea of large lots with single-family vacation dude ranches. The home would have minimum upkeep- there would be no profit from the ranch operations but it would be a fun place for the children. But after a lack of interest from the public, Hanson altered his plan. He came up with the idea to turn the development into one-story luxury homes with enough room to board horses; a place for real living.

By the middle of 1935, Palos Verdes Drive North was completed and more people from Long Beach to Redondo Beach were visiting the area, exploring the hills. Long Beach was only 20 minutes away from the Rolling Hills Gate (the city’s first gatehouse built at the intersection of PV Drive North and Portuguese Bend Road to ensure residents’ privacy; to this day remains the main entry gate into Rolling Hills). THe completion of Palos Verdes Drive North was the key to everything. For the first time it made the most favorable part of the scenic Palos Verdes Hills available for development.

Rolling Hills would run from Palos Verdes Drive, southerly to the Crest Road, and would be bounded on the east by Georgeff Canyon and on the west by Agua Negra Canyon, and would be platted into 100 homesites.  Hanson’s goal was to build a community. The 600 acres of Rolling Hills would be used for two classes of single-family homes. The flatter area, immediately to the south of Palos Verdes Drive would be for one-acre homes.

Hanson decided that all of the buildings built in Rolling Hills would have a white exterior. They would fit in with the emerald green of the new grain in the Spring and would harmonize with the bare earth after the hay was baled in the Fall. Following the theme of white, the city’s first gatehouse was also painted white. The roofs were to be of shingle or shake, weathered. Hanson disproved of red tile roofs because they were not harmonious in a neighborhood unless all roofs were red tiled. The homeowner could do anything he wished to the interior. Every ranchito had to be fenced with a three-rail, white fence. The developers installed all the fences on the road frontage as well as roadside trees and shrubs.

In 1936, Hanson began advertising the ranches differently to increase sales. The advertisements states “Own your own dude ranch- country life, city conveniences” to sell Rolling Hills as a place out in the country with city conveniences. One advertising campaign consisted of three elements. First they sent out sales letters using a mailing list of 7,500 people within the general Long Beach- Redondo area. The second effort involved newspaper advertising- a real estate ad as well as a one column wide ad telling the public about the size of Rolling Hills. The third effort was mailing brochures showing photographs of the property. The aim of the advertising campaign was to get the prospects curious enough to drive out to Rolling Hills and to stop by the sales office.

The Rolling Hills Post Office opened September 1, 1937. Rolling Hills was incorporated in 1957. The area remains a residential coomunity without businesses or industries within the gates.