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Ethel Allen house built in 1878 torn down
Some of the architectural features of the old Allen house on McKinley Avenue are still evident in this picture taken last week. The circa 1878 house was one of three structures that were demolished to make way for another California Natural Products warehouse. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

LATHROP – One of Lathrop’s oldest homes is no more. The house where one of the city’s revered teachers lived was razed last week to make room for a warehouse expansion of California Natural Products across the street on McKinley Avenue.

Roy Donald Tinnin, 91, and his 88-year-old wife Clara live right next door to the once stately whitewashed home with a well-tended garden where the late teacher Ethel Allen and her husband Robert lived. Roy Tinnin said the house was built in 1878 by the grandparents of Ethel Allen. The grandparents were the Howlands who farmed the area where today’s J.R. Simplot is located on Howland Road.

After the Howlands passed away, the house was inherited by their daughter who married a Carlton. The Tinnins and Lathrop native Arnita Elliott Yepez Montiel could not remember the name of the Howlands. But Clara Tinnin remembered the Howlands’ daughter, Fannie, who married Frank Carlton. Montiel and the Tinnins remembered well the Carltons’ two daughters: Ethel who married Robert Allen, and Viola Carlton Roesler. They also remembered that Ethel followed in her grandmother’s and mother’s footsteps by becoming a teacher. Ethel’s husband, they recalled, was also a teacher who taught in Stockton. Ethel taught first grade in the old school in Lathrop.

Clara Tinnin said she knew the Carltons as the people who lived in “the big house.”

“I remember when I was just a little kid, the people that lived there were Frank and Fannie Carlton. They were very nice people. I can still remember Frank riding a horse. He would take that horse all around Lathrop. At that time, my grandparents had a grocery store and apartment there on Seventh Street,” Clara reminisced.

The Tinnins said that after the Carltons died, the house became the property of their daughter, Ethel Allen. After the Allens died, they lost track of the subsequent owners of the house. But they remembered Ethel Allen’s sister Viola Roesler living there with her son George whom Roy simply knew as Bud. After Viola Roesler died, “he sold (the house) and moved out to Valley Springs,” Roy Tinnin said.

The house had beautiful gardens complete with water fountains during the years the Roeslers lived there, he recalled.

“Mrs. Roesler was always working in the garden,” he said.

As for the people who lived in the house after Bud moved out of Lathrop, Roy Tinnin said, “I never did see the people living in that house. People bought and then they sold it to some more people and then lost it, and it lay empty for probably a year. People were in and out there all the time.”
“There were transient people living in the house. I think there was something going on that was not legal; the law enforcement people moved them out,” Clara Tinnin said.

And that prompted Roy Tinnin to say, “it’s better now that the house is gone.”

Several years ago, the owners of the old Allen house decided to remodel the entire structure. Gone was the sprawling white house with matching whitewashed stairs and the old-fashioned front porch that ran almost across the entire front of the house. The porch was enclosed, the tall windows were remodeled, and the entire structure was painted in muted brown and green colors. The once thriving garden also was gone.

Ethel Allen’s legacy
will live on

Ethel Allen’s legacy will live on, thanks to the Manteca Unified School committee that decided to name one of the new elementary schools at Mossdale Landing in her honor. The school was supposed to be the next one built after Mossdale School was completed southwest of Lathrop City Hall. However, the mortgage meltdown delayed that plan since the anticipated enrollment resulting from the projected increase in new houses built did not materialize. The location for the new Ethel Allen School is north of River Islands Parkway near Lathrop School.

Ironically, Ethel Allen never had any children but considered “all the kids that she taught her very own,” said Montiel.

“Everyone that she taught was her child,” she said.

There’s another sub-story to the old Allen house as far as the Tinnins are concerns.

“This house we’re living in now was built by Ethel and Robert Allen,” Clara Tinnin said.

“Bob died first, and after he died he had a will that willed the property (the Tinnin house) to the Masonic Lodge. When (Ethel) died, she did not have a will, so his will stood and we bought the property from the Masonic Lodge,” she said.

They moved into their “new” house in 1969. Before that, the Tinnins lived in the Old Town District, first on Sixth Street and later on Fifth Street where they lived with Clara’s mother after her father died.

Other houses torn down to make way for new warehouse

Two other houses next to the Allen home were torn down to make way for the new warehouse that California Natural Products is planning to build.

One of them belonged to Leslie and Ruth Frey. Leslie was either the uncle or brother (Clara Tinnin was not sure about the exact relationship) of the late John Frey of Manteca whose family farmed part of the area where J.R. Simplot and the former Libbey-Owens-Ford glass company, now Pilkington Glass, are located today.

“Leslie’s son, Douglas, was living there until they sold (the house) to the (California Natural Products) company,” Clara Tinnin said.

A third house was torn down but she said they did not know the people who lived there. “I just don’t remember,” she said.

The houses were burned down last week by the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District crew which used the structure fires as part of their rescue training.

To contact Rose Albano Risso, e-mail or call 9209) 249-3536.