The ad in the April 3, 1937, Bakersfield Californian stated, “Homes bloom where cactus bloomed [a] month ago.” Referred to as both Upper La Cresta and La Crest Heights, La Cresta’s newest 160 lot subdivision on the Kern River bluffs promised prospective buyers a view of the city, valley and mountains amid quiet, refined and exclusive surroundings. According to the same article, Howard Nichols Inc. designed the neighborhood to make La Cresta a place of “home happiness” to locate permanently.
The residential development would be modern in every way, but aside from all the amenities that were sure to attract buyers, one of the most unexpected things the developers were proud of was the immense 100-foot-long electric neon sign with letters 10 feet high intended to catch the attention of all. Touted as the “largest neon sign in the San Joaquin Valley,” the April 3, 1937, Californian, in doing its own investigative work, reported that “a check of neon signs was made last Saturday in Los Angeles and it was found that no sign on Wilshire Boulevard from Western Avenue to Santa Monica reached the 10-foot height of the La Cresta sign.” The sign was so successful in attracting visitors that by April 24, Howard Nichols issued a plea in The Californian for no more visitors to La Cresta. His reason being that the amount of dust caused by the ongoing grading and the incomplete oiling of the streets caused visitors to “[experience] the annoyance of dust and dirt” and he would rather have them visit the tract in comfort.
Col. Howard Nichols was one of the area’s pioneering developers who helped turn Bakersfield into a metropolitan area. Nichols wanted this latest neighborhood to be unique and unlike any other tract in Bakersfield. With that in mind, the Nichols company approached the design and construction of the model homes in a unique way as well. Nichols was a marketing genius with his idea. It was announced competing contractors would design, build and furnish 12 different model homes. Once complete, the public could visit the homes between June 6 to 13, 1937, and cast their ballot for the winner. Entrants included Z.L. Murray, J.M. Eggleston, William Summers, H.C. Evans, Lauren K. Miner, Crowder & Ingalls, Hubbard & Son, O.D. Williams, Jr., Willard K. Michael, Carter & Fowler, Alva Hackney & Sons, and Elliott Construction Co. The models were judged as follows: 35 points for floor plan, 25 points for interior decorating and finish, 25 points for exterior appearance and 15 points for yard appearance.
On June 14, 1937, O.D. Williams Jr.’s “Hearts Desire” entry earned 54,045 points and was announced the top winner of the $750 cash prize. Z.L. Murray’s "Regal Manor" earned 41,120 points and won $350 for second place. Third place and an award of $250 went to Alva Hackney & Sons’ “Honeymoon Bungalow” and the final cash prizes of $100 went to H.C. Evans, Lauren K. Miner and Hubbard and Sons.
Called “one of the greatest expositions of its kind ever held in the state,” more than 35,000 people visited the La Cresta Heights model homes during that single week alone and demonstrated why it remains one of Bakersfield's most unique and charming neighborhoods.