Philip Scorza's Points of Interest | History of a Homestead
Philip Scorza takes viewers on a historic — and personal — journey of perseverance and preservation on the Winkler homestead property in Castaic.
Written & Hosted by Philip Scorza. Filmed 1999- 2020. Produced in 2021
Excerpt from “Winkler Homestead Road: Past and Future Meet at Castaic High School”:
Until Castaic High School was built, upper Romero Canyon looked about as rural as it did in 1920 when Norman Winkler filed for a homestead patent. Winkler, a World War I veteran who fought the Kaiser’s army at Verdun, built a 900-square-foot cabin on the property in 1921, raised chickens there and planted more than 200 eucalyptus, cedar and pine trees.
The old homestead cabin where Marylynn grew up is gone — it burned down in 1978 — as are the family’s 350 acres, which they sold off over the decades. A second cabin built in 1962 is gone, too; it stood on the last remaining 4 acres when it burned down in a 2001 brushfire.
Philip Scorza was at work at Canyon High School when he got word the brushfire was headed in his direction. The video production teacher had purchased the 4-acre property just four months earlier and lived in the cabin. He got home that night to find a smoldering ruin.
Undeterred, Scorza rebuilt, and the historian in him went into overdrive. A longtime board member of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, Scorza researched his property and connected the dots to Marylynn Winkler Butters, whom he befriended and interviewed in 2014 for his SCVTV history show, “Points of Interest.”
Not long after that, as the shiny new school began to take shape on newly flattened hills, Scorza came up with the idea of preserving a link to the past by naming the road in front of it for the Winklers. Specifically, for the Winkler homestead. Noting it would be the only street name around here with “homestead” in it, he figured the students could learn what a homestead was.
Los Angeles County said “sure,” as long as the William S. Hart Union High School District and everybody else in town was OK with it. In time, Scorza gathered the support of the school district, the Castaic Area Town Council, other local organizations and neighboring property owners in Romero Canyon.
“Neighboring” property owners is a bit of a misnomer. There’s really only Scorza, immediately north of the school. Just past him, Placerita Canyon resident Dave Weston owns the land that his great-grandfather Alvino Romero, the canyon’s namesake, homesteaded in 1912. Otherwise the school is rather secluded, at least until the economy bounces back and home construction starts anew.
When campus life returns and someone asks, “What’s a homestead?” there’ll be a guest lecturer with answers just up the road.
Further reading & watching: