LGBT Heritage Month, A Time For Commemoration and Celebration

June is LGBT Heritage Month (also known as LGBT Pride Month), a time to remember the challenges that the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community has faced and to commemorate the contributions they have made. The photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library features many images documenting the struggles and triumphs of L.A.’s gay community in their quest for recognition, respect, and equal rights, as well as showing them as simply our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members.

During the 1940s, Malcolm Boyd was a hot shot junior producer of radio and television. He founded PRB, a production company, with Mary Pickford (America’s sweetheart!) before leaving the business world to become an Episcopal priest. Boyd was prominent in the American Civil Rights movement, participating as a Freedom Rider in 1961, riding interstate buses in the South in mixed racial groups to challenge segregation laws. He also actively protested the Vietnam War and was the author of 30 books. In 1977, Boyd came out and became the most prominent openly homosexual clergy person at the time. He became a spokesman for gay rights and served as writer-in-residence for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Malcolm Boyd

Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers converse with Malcolm Boyd, their TV-radio production partner, who is beginning theological studies, having been admitted as a postulant for holy orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church. (Herald-Examiner Collection, May 7, 1950)

The Briggs Initiative, also known as California Proposition 6, was on the California State ballot on November 7, 1978. Named for its sponsor, John Briggs, a state legislator from Orange County, the initiative was designed to ban gays and lesbians from working in California’s public schools. The initiative was opposed by a diverse group of politicians including Ronald Reagan, Jerry Brown, Gerald Ford, and then-president Jimmy Carter. It was defeated by California voters.

Protest of Briggs Initiative

Members and supporters of Los Angeles gay community march down Hollywood Boulevard on July 2, 1978, to protest the Briggs Initiative. (Ken Papaleo/Herald-Examiner Collection, July 3, 1978)

In 1970, the first Gay Pride Parade was held in Los Angeles on Hollywood Boulevard. The parade was so controversial that the city’s police commission tried to stop it for fear that those who participated in it would be attacked. Today, LGBTQ pride celebrations take place in various venues and streets throughout Southern California, with the largest festival, LA Pride, occurring annually in West Hollywood.

Gay Rodeo Float at Pride Parade

A float from the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association is featured in the Gay Parade in West Hollywood. (Paul Chinn/Herald-Examiner Collection, June 23, 1985)

Proud Mom of Gay Man

A mother supports her gay son while participating in the Gay Parade and Festival. (Steve Grayson/Herald-Examiner Collection, June 26, 1989)

In 1979, Norman Laurila and George Leigh opened the bookstore A Different Light at 4014 Santa Monica Boulevard in the Silver Lake neighborhood in Los Angeles. The store specialized in gay and lesbian literature and publications, often hosting signing tours and reading from LGBTQ writers. A Different Light eventually added locations in West Hollywood, San Francisco, and New York, becoming one of the nation’s largest gay-owned booksellers.

A Different Light bookstore

Two men (unidentified) in the gay bookstore, “A Different Light,” located at 4014 Santa Monica Boulevard in the Silver Lake district. (Gary Leonard Collection, no date)

In 1985, Marine Sergeant Rolf Lindblom, a computer programming instructor at the Marine Corps Reserve Training Center in Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles, petitioned the Corps for an honorable discharge on the grounds that he was homosexual. The 25-year old Lindblom had an exemplary military record, had been named Marine of the Year in Los Angeles, and had two years left of service. The Marine Corps would not consider the petition until Lindblom provided proof of homosexual conduct, proof that Lindblom refused to give as he feared doing so would trigger a court-martial against him. After filing a second request, Corps spokesman said Lindblom had met all requirements for an honorable discharge and such discharge was granted.

ROLF

A crowd gathered outside the Marine Corps Reserve Center in Los Angeles shows support for Sgt. Rolf Lindblom who is seeking an honorable discharge because he is gay. (James Ruebsamen/Herald-Examiner Collection, October 21, 1985)

The 2004 LGBT Pride Parade celebrated gay life with lesbian bikers, Mr. Leather 2004 in a black convertible, stilt walkers, latex wearers, drag queen cheerleaders, and a contingency of Episcopalians quietly carrying signs with a powerful message.

Love is all you need

A group carries the message in the 2004 Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood. (Douglas McCulloh/Los Angeles Neighborhoods Collection, 2004)

Saving Sinners and Skirting Scandal — Aimee Semple McPherson

No history of the City of Angels would be complete without a mention of Aimee Semple McPherson, a woman who came to Los Angeles with a mission and a message and achieved world-wide fame for both saintliness and scandal. Perusing the photo archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, you will learn of the prominent place McPherson holds in the annals of L.A.

Aimee Semple McPherson was an evangelist and philanthropist who first came to Los Angeles in 1918 at the bequest of Pentecostal minister William J. Seymour to participate in a series of revivals. At this point, Aimee had been traveling around and outside the U.S. to preach the word of the Lord for most of a decade. (In 1914, she ceased preaching to concentrate on married life and motherhood. She fell ill, became delirious, and, according to her recollection, heard voices telling her she had to preach or die.) She relocated permanently to L.A. in 1923, founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and built Angeles Temple directly across from Echo Park in Los Angeles. The Temple was McPherson’s base and is still the headquarters for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

Angeles Temple

Angeles Temple (William Reagh Collection, 1982).

McPherson’s sermons were well reviewed and well attended and often featured faith healing. Known as an electrifying speaker, she also had a theatrical bent, once giving a sermon on a motorcycle. A savvy businesswoman, she knew how to use the media to maximum effect, publishing magazines and books and broadcasting a radio program from her own radio station, KFSG, bringing evangelism into the modern age. She tirelessly preached a life made better with the Lord and love for your fellow man.

Aimee Semple McPherson preaching

Aimee Semple McPherson preaching (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, no date given).

Sermon at Angeles Temple

Church service at Angeles Temple (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, 1930).

Radio towers

Radio towers visible on roof of Angeles Temple (Herman J. Schultheis Collection, 1937).

Having been raised by a mother active in the Salvation Army, McPherson’s church placed an emphasis on charitable work. She believed it to be just as important to take care of a person’s physical needs as well as their spiritual needs, and organized food drives, built a commissary, and distributed necessities from blankets to baby clothes.

Angeles Temple Food Baskets

Christmas food baskets to be given to the poor by members of Angeles Temple; arrow points to Aimee Semple McPherson (Herald-Examiner Collection, 1934).

MACPHERSON DINING HALL

Angeles Temple dining hall that provided free meals for destitute men (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, 1932).

Always interested in making life better for the common man, McPherson supported many civic causes. One cause was the police safety campaign in 1942 aimed at making the streets of Los Angeles safer for pedestrians.

Aimee Semple McPherson pledges pedestrian safety

Aimee Semple McPherson pledges support for the Police Safety Campaign (Herald-Examiner Collection, 1942).

As with any public figure, McPherson was not without her detractors, controversies, and scandals. McPherson’s support of the war effort in WWII alienated those who remained pacifists or uncommitted. She entertained celebrities and loved the camera, which raised eyebrows with more conservative factions. A reorganization of Angeles Temple upset many staff members, with fallout leading to McPherson’s daughter, Roberta Semple, suing McPherson’s attorney for slander.

Aimee in court

Aimee Semple McPherson in court for the defamation of character suit against Angeles Temple attorney, Willedd Andrews, a suit brought by her daughter, Roberta Semple (Herald-Examiner Collection, 1944).

McPherson’s biggest scandal, however, began at Venice Beach, California, on May 18, 1926. McPherson disappeared while swimming and was believed drowned. Five days later she appeared in Mexico just across the border from Arizona, claiming to have been kidnapped and tortured before she escaped. Controversy arose when several witnesses reported seeing McPherson with a man during her five-day absence. While many welcomed her return to Los Angeles, others accused McPherson of being involved in an elicit love affair in a cottage by the sea with a married man.

Carmel by the Sea

Lorraine Wiseman-Seilaff, a key figure in the Carmel-by-the-Sea story who accused Aimee Semple McPherson of faking a kidnapping (Herald-Examiner Collection, 1937).

Aimee Semple McPherson died on September 27, 1944. While the cause of death is officially listed as unknown, it was generally agreed by the coroner and other medical officials that Aimee died of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. Her body lay in state at Angeles Temple for three days while over forty-five thousand people paid their respects and mourned her passing.

Aimee funeral

Funeral for Aimee Semple McPherson (Herald-Examiner Collection, October 9, 1944).

The Eye and the Image – Women Photographers of Los Angeles

As March is Woman’s History Month, it is only appropriate to celebrate some of the women who helped document Los Angeles – big events and small moments – for all to see. The photos below, which can be found in the Los Angeles Public Library photo archives, were taken by female photographers who captured images of the city – its people, places, and proceedings.

Lucille Stewart was a photographer who worked for Mayor Fletcher Bowron (Mayor of Los Angeles from 1938 to 1953) and also for Currie’s Ice Cream, an ice cream parlor with locations throughout Southern California that dished up mile high cones, cherry phosphates, and other cool confections from the 1930s through the late 1960s. Her photos captured civic events, elections, parades, and folks enjoying a treat. Stewart also opened a stationery and camera shop on Pico Boulevard in 1957. She was awarded the Hall of Fame Award from Professional Photographers of California in 1992.

1966 california gubernatorial election

1966 California gubernatorial race featuring residing Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty (Lucille Stewart Collection, June 7, 1966)

LOS ANGELES CENTENNIAL

Centennial celebration in Los Angeles with Mayor Fletcher Bowron (Lucille Stewart Collection, August 13, 1946)

Curries Montebello

Currie’s Ice Cream shop in Montebello, California (Lucille Stewart Collection, October, 1946).

GRAND OPENING

Grand opening of Lucille Stewart’s Stationery and Camera Shop on Pico Boulevard (Lucille Stewart Collection, April 18, 1957).

Carol Westwood, born in Rochester, New York, in 1942, was a photographer whose work included architecture, portraits, and fine art stills. After relocating to California in 1979, she photographed Los Angeles architecture as well as movie and entertainment icons. Just prior to her passing in 2011,  Westwood personally donated a selection of her images to the Los Angeles Public Library.

Beverly Hills Skyline

Beverly Hills skyline at twilight (Carol Westwood Collection, 1980).

CAPITOL RECORDS

Capitol Records building (Carol Westwood Collection, 1990).

CORNERS

Corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights Boulevard (Carol Westwood Collection, 1980).

 

LIBERACE

Liberace Mausoleum, Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood, California (Carol Westwood Collection, 1996).

Marissa Roth is a freelance photographer and photojournalist based in California whose images have been published in newspapers and other publications throughout the world. Her photos capture celebrations and altercations, bustling streets and empty lots. Roth took part in the Los Angeles Neighborhoods Project of the Los Angeles Public Library which created a visual record of L.A. neighborhoods.

GRAFFITI

Commissioned Graffiti in the Arts District (photo by Marissa Roth for Los Angeles Neighborhoods Collection, May 2000)

DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

Protesters at the Democratic Convention (photo by Marissa Roth for Los Angeles Neighborhoods Collection, 2001).

MUSIC CENTER FOUNTAIN

L.A. Music Center Fountain (taken by Marissa Roth for Los Angeles Neighborhoods Collection, February, 2000).

The photography of Cheryl Himmelstein captures the colorful world of the common man, from scenes of commerce to the Venice boardwalk. Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Himmelstein attended The Art Center, College of Design in Pasadena, California, becoming a freelance photographer who documents social and economic issues.

SANTEE ALLEY

Santee Alley (taken by Cheryl Himmelstein for Industrial Los Angeles Collection, November 29, 2009).

EMPANADA FACTORY

Empanada Factory in Venice Beach (Los Angeles Neighborhoods Collection, 2004).

DRESSMAKER

Dressmaker in downtown Los Angeles (Industrial Los Angeles Collection, July 14, 2009).

YELLOW HOUSE

Yellow house in Venice Beach (taken by Cheryl Himmelstein for Los Angeles Neighborhoods Project, 2002).

Celebrating Women’s Heritage Month with Some Notable L.A. Women

March is Woman’s History Month, a great time to familiarize yourself with some of the women who helped build and shape life in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. The photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library showcases many of these women including:

Charlotta Bass

Charlotta Bass, born Charlotta Spears in 1880, moved to Los Angeles in 1910 and found work selling subscriptions to The Eagle, an African American newspaper founded in 1879 (originally titled The Owl) by John J. Neimore, a former slave. When Neimore fell ill in 1912, she took over operation of the paper, becoming the first African American woman to run a newspaper in the United States. Charlotta changed the paper’s name to California Eagle and focused on issues important to the African American community and other minorities that were often ignored by other publications. California Eagle covered such topics as discriminatory housing policies, segregated schools, and unfair treatment of minorities in the court system. She is pictured here with staff of California Eagle.

Charlotta Bass and Staff at California Eagle

Charlotta Bass with staff of California Eagle (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, no date given for photo).

Bass oversaw publication of California Eagle with her husband, Joseph Bass, until his death in 1934, and then continued to run it on her own until her retirement from the newspaper business in 1951. She then dedicated herself to political activism, becoming a leader in the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association). She ran for Congress and was nominated as running mate for presidential candidate Vincent Hallinan of the Progressive Party, becoming the first African-American woman to run for Vice President of the United States. Here she is seen at a rally held during her congressional run.

Charlotta Bass at Rally

Charlotta Bass speaks at a rally during her Congressional candidacy (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, no date given for photo).

Another woman who contributed to getting the news of the day to Los Angeles residents was Agness “Aggie” Underwood, who started working as a reporter for the Los Angeles daily newspaper Herald-Express in 1935 and became its city editor in 1947. She maintained that position until her retirement in 1968, increasing the paper’s circulation and seeing it through its merger with the Examiner in 1962 when it became the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. During her time as a reporter, Underwood interviewed Amelia Earhart, reported on movie star deaths, and wrote a series of articles focusing on the lives of women incarcerated in prison. In 1947, she was covering the [now infamous] Black Dahlia murder case when she was promoted to city editor. As an editor, she was known for her tough but fair attitude, often presenting the human side of criminals, but also keeping a sawed-off baseball bat and pistol at her desk, as shown below:

Aggie Underwood at Work

Aggie Underwood at work as city editor of the Herald-Express, (Herald-Examiner Collection, 1949).

In the photo below, Aggie is seen during an exclusive interview with Louise Peete, a murderer with whom Underwood had conducted several interviews previously, always referring to her as Mrs. Peete. Peete would eventually die in the gas chamber.

Peete and Underwood Interview

Aggie Underwood (right) conducts interview with murderess Louise Peete (Herald-Examiner Collection, December 22, 1944).

For more information and images about Aggie Underwood, see this exhibit page of the Los Angeles Public Library’s website.

Southern California is home for many businesses in the aerospace industry, and many women have helped in the exploration of our final frontier – outer space. The women pictured below performed scientific research and experimentation for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Altadena, helping to build rockets, launch space stations, and promote space exploration.

JPL scientists

Female scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Altadena (Valley Times Collection, June 27, 1960).

Rocketdyne, formerly located in the San Fernando Valley, also employed many female scientists and engineers who worked in the field of rocket and missile design. To view images of these women, visit the Los Angeles Public Library’s blog about the Canoga Rockettes.

And check back with this blog for more photos of fascinating L.A. women!

A Tale of Two Ranchos

Rancho Los Cerritos, c. 1890 (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, order# 00032266)

Rancho Los Cerritos and the Centinela Adobe are two of a number of historic landmarks dating to the age of the ranchos in Southern California. These historic sites are reminders of a time when Los Angeles was little more than a tiny pueblo with far flung agricultural outposts.

Today both are operated as heritage parks. As such they are nicely landscaped and staged to reflect the best of the rancho era. Images from the Los Angeles Public Library’s collection offer glimpses of a past that was as rough and tumble as it was romantic.

Rancho Los Cerritos (little hills) in Long Beach is a remnant of a 1786 land grant from the crown of Spain to its loyal leather-jacket soldier Manuel Nieto. The current adobe was constructed about 1844. After passing into American hands shortly thereafter, the estate transitioned from cattle ranching to sheep ranching. The image above gives a sense of the still desolate surroundings at the turn of the century.

Sheep dipping at Rancho Los Cerritos (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, order #00032263)

The American ranchers, the Bixby family, employed Basque sheepherders. This undated photo from the collection shows a flock of sheep readied for “dipping,” a time-honored method of ridding the animals of nasty pests in the fleece. The sheep were led one by one into a trough where they would be immersed in a noxious chemical bath. Despite concerns about damage to both humans and the environment, sheep dipping continues to be a standard practice in many places.

September 19, 1931. Rancho Los Cerritos Adobe, back view with gardens. At this date the home was still occupied by members of the Bixby family. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, order # 00032265)

Today the Rancho is owned by the City of Long Beach and operated by the Rancho Los Cerritos Foundation.

Docent Laura of the Rancho Los Cerritos Foundation gave the author an excellent tour of the adobe.

About 1834 Ygnacio Machado built a home on his 25,000-acre rancho in the area already called Centinela Valley, a place where watchman (sentinals) kept a look-out for pirates along the coast. Some ten years after building the adobe, the lands of Rancho Aguaje de Centinela (the sentinel spring) were formally deeded to Machado by the Mexican government of Alta California. The rancho lands were used variously for cow pasture, sheep grazing, growing wheat and barley, orchards, and raising horses, and even as a riding academy.

Centinela Adobe, c. 1889. Note the hammocks swinging from the veranda posts. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, order# 00019908)

Centinela Adobe from the front, 1927. The Adobe, with additions, was a private residence at the time of this photograph. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, order #00019909)

The Centinela Adobe, c. 1937. Schultheis earned fame as a photographer and technician employed in Walt Disney’s special effects department. (Herman J. Schultheis Collection, order #00097850)

Today the Centinela Adobe is operated by the Historical Society of Centinela Valley and owned and maintained by the City of Inglewood. In a geographical twist of fate, the adobe considered the birthplace of the City of Inglewood is actually located just outside the city boundary in the Westchester neighborhood of Los Angeles.

 

Centinela Adobe today. Entrance to the park is from the back of the adobe, pictured here. The front faces directly onto the 405 Freeway, built in the early 1960s.

Despite the great difference in size, these adobes share a number of features. Covered porches, thick adobe (mud brick) walls punctuated with wooden frame doors, deep-set windows, patios, and hanging lights fixtures. Each has undergone periods of improvement alternating with periods of decline. Each was rescued from possible demolition by preservation minded individuals in the 1950s.

Both sites are open to the public during published hours.

http://www.cityofinglewood.org/depts/rec/centinela_adobe/

http://www.rancholoscerritos.org/

In future posts we will visit more adobes and heritage sites in Los Angeles County.

 

Sources for this essay include visits to the sites, various websites, and the following:

Iris H.W. Engstrand, Rancho Los Cerritos, A Southern California Legacy Preserved, 2009.

“Centinela Adobe Docent Tour Information,”1972, typescript in the possession of Westchester-Loyola Village Branch Library, Los Angeles Public Library.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Monday, February 8, 2016, marks the beginning of the Year of the Fire Monkey; in the Chinese calendar the year is 4714. The Chinese New Year bring celebrations that include firecrackers, parades, fish, dragons, lions, and lucky money in red envelopes. The Los Angeles Public Library’s photo collection contains images of such holiday celebrations held in Chinatown and other areas of Los Angeles.

Chinese New Year Parade, Monterey Park

Miss Monterey Park waves to the crowd during a Chinese New Year parade in the San Gabriel Valley. (Shades of L.A. collection; photo by Steven Gold, 1992 [Year of the Monkey])

Dragon in Chinese Parade

A golden dragon rings in the Year of the Boar in L.A.’s Chinatown. (Herald-Examiner Collection, January 30, 1971 [Year of the Pig])

Clown in Chinese New Year Parade

Wally the Clown leads children at a New Year festival in Chinatown. (Harry Quillen Collection, February 15, 1958 [Year of the Dog])

Man and niece enjoy Chinese New Year

Eugene Yee and niece Susan celebrate Chinese New Year with balloons and firecrackers. (Herald-Examiner Collection, photo taken by Howard Ballew, February 13, 1964 [Year of the Dragon])

Beauty queens in Chinese New Year parade

Beauty queens in Chinese New Year parade. (Gary Leonard Collection, 1995 [Year of the Pig])

Flute and Fiddle for the New Year

Chung Fook (left) and Luke Chan (right) play music to usher in the Chinese New Year. (Herald-Examiner Collection, January 27, 1941 [Year of the Snake])

Family enjoys Chinese New Year

The Wong family prepares to enjoy a traditional Chinese New Year’s feast. (Herald-Examiner Collection, February 5, 1965 [Year of the Snake])

Lion of Good drives away evil spirits

Tsweje, the Lion of Good, drives away evil spirits during this celebration of the Chinese New Year. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, January, 1925 [Year of the Ox])

A stroll through L.A. gardens . . .

Los Angeles boasts a number of beautiful gardens and with winters being much milder in Southern California than other parts of the country, you can take a garden stroll anytime. That said, there will be times you can’t get to the garden – bad cold, sick kids, a backlog of work. If you’re stuck indoors and dreaming of relaxing amongst lush foliage, fragrant flowers, or spiky cholla, the photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library can help you escape. As with everything in the City of Angels, Los Angeles gardens (present and past) boast plenty of variety.

Japanese Gardens

SuihoEn (garden of water and fragrance), situated on the grounds of the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, is an authentic Japanese garden designed by Dr. Koichi Kawana and fashioned after the stroll gardens built during the 18th and 19th centuries for Japanese feudal lords. It features a karesansui (dry Zen meditation garden), a wet garden featuring waterfalls and ponds, and a chashitsu (tatami mat teahouse).

Japanese Garden in Van Nuys

Japanese Garden at Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, California (Photo taken by Stephen Callis, 1991)

The Botanical Gardens on the grounds of the Huntington Library in San Marino also feature a Japanese garden, complete with koi ponds and an authentic Japanese House considered to be one of the best examples of early twentieth Japanese architecture in the United States.

Huntington Japanese Gardens

Japanese Garden at Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino (Photo taken by Herman Schultheis, ca. 1937)

The Bernheimer Estate, built overlooking the ocean in Pacific Palisades in the early 1920s, featured Japanese gardens with a pagoda housing the vast collection of Oriental art acquired by Adolph Bernheimer. The Bernheimer Gardens were a popular tourist attraction until 1941, when public opinion changed due to Pearl Harbor and World War II. The property suffered erosion and two major landslides and was vacated in the late 1940s; the structures were demolished in the 1950s.

Bernheimer Bronze Elephants

Bronze elephants stroll through the Bernheimer Japanese Gardens. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, 1939)

Cactus Gardens

The weird and resilient beauty of the cactus is on display in the Desert Garden of The Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, which showcases more than 2,000 species of desert plants in one of the largest cactus gardens in the world.

Huntington Gardens Cactus Gardens

Visitors from Detroit admire the many varieties of cacti in the Desert Garden  at Huntington Botanical Gardens (Herald Examiner Collection, ca. 1965)

Will Keith Kellogg,(commonly known as W.K. Kellogg), the breakfast cereal magnate, bought acreage in Pomona, California, in 1925 on which he established an Arabian horse ranch. The land has passed through many owners (including the University of California system and the U.S. War Department) and is now the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. The grounds have changed over time, but a stroll down memory lane will show its beautiful gardens, including a huge cactus garden.

Kellogg Cactus Garden

Cactus garden at Kellogg Arabian Horse Farm (WPA collection, ca. 1930)

The Kellogg estate gardens also featured a pond complete with water flowers and water fowl.

Kellogg Garden Duck Pond

Garden and pond at Kellogg Arabian Horse Ranch in Pomona (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, date unknown)

Rose Gardens

If you are aching to smell the roses, Exposition Park Rose Garden (located just south of the campus of University of Southern California) is open to visitors from 9:00 a.m. to sunset. Unfortunately, you will have to wait for spring as the Rose Garden is closed from January 1st through March 15th every year for maintenance (time to prune the roses!)

Exposition Park Gardens

Roses in Exposition Park in Los Angeles (Herman J. Schultheis Collection, ca. 1937)

Expo Rose Garden seen from Museum steps

Rose Garden as seen from the steps of the Museum of History, Science and Art in Exposition Park (Herman J. Schultheis Collection, ca. 1937)

French-born artist Paul de Longpre?, who painted flowers and floral scenes in watercolor, came to Hollywood in 1899 and had a home built on three acres close to what is now the intersection of Cahuenga Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard. (A nearby street, De Longpre Avenue, was named after him.) He maintained a garden on this property that at one time boasted 4,000 roses. The residence, which included art galleries in addition to gardens, became a popular destination for tourists and local visitors before being demolished in 1927.

de Longpre Rose Garden

Rose Garden at estate of artist Paul de Longpre (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, date unknown)

 

A Historic House through the Years: El Alisal

Renaissance man Charles Fletcher Lummis (1859 – 1928) designed and built his Highland Park home over a period of some 13 years beginning in 1897, diagnosis doing much of the labor himself. The name he gave his homestead was El Alisal, sales place of the alders — or sycamores — or California sycamores. The actual meaning is a bit lost in translation, tadalafil but the important thing is it was a Spanish name and Lummis loved the Spanish influence in California. He also loved Native American culture and dedicated a portion of his very active life to preserving both.

Much has been written about Lummis the man. We’ll confine ourselves to describing him as a collector, writer, preservationist, founder of the Southwest Museum, advocate for Native American rights, and booster for all things Old California.

One of Lummis’ day jobs was Los Angeles City Librarian. Despite lack of any formal training, Lummis was appointed to the position in 1905 based on his reputation as a “noted scholar and practical leader (Blitz). In five years Lummis worked to build the library’s collection of rare books and manuscripts, particularly, of course, those reflecting the city’s Spanish heritage. He also found himself embroiled in a boatload of office politics which led to his resignation in 1910. He left behind him the well-established and respected Department of Western History Material.

In addition to collecting books, terra cotta pots and Indian blankets, Lummis collected friends….local and national luminaries from the worlds of art, letters, music, and politics.  And he held court at El Alisal.

Exterior 1905

Security Pacific National Bank, Image #00062061

A Man’s Home

The Los Angeles Public Library’s digital photographic collection contains a number of images of El Alisal over a century of life. Most of the photos are from the Security Pacific Bank Collection and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner Collection. The image above, dated February 5, 1905, taken while the house was still under construction, shows the castle-like embellishments Lummis craved: towers, crenellations, slit windows.

Lummis’ taste for romantic and vernacular architecture is apparent. His design for El Alisal was part medieval castle, part California rancho, part Native American pueblo. Much of his building materials were locally-sourced, including river rock taken from the nearby Arroyo Seco and discarded railroad telegraph poles used as ceiling support beams. The nomination form that successfully placed El Alisal on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 described it as “a rambling 2-story random rubble stone, masonry and concrete structure,” and noted that the building did not “meet present day requirements of the Los Angeles City Building Code.”

Security Pacific Bank Collection, Image #00062064

Security Pacific Bank Collection, Image #00062064

The dining room at El Alisal, 1910, displays an eclectic assortment of china and artwork, as well as a pair of muskets mounted on the wall. Many of the pictures and objects displayed in the house were created for Lummis by his coterie of artist friends. Others Lummis collected on his travels throughout the Southwest.

 

Security Pacific Bank Collection, Image #00062066

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00062066

This 1905 photograph shows the backyard courtyard of the home, including a large sycamore and the central lily pond traditional to California rancho style. The kitchen wing is on the right.

 

Image # 00062058

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image # 00062058

An undated photo of the front room at El Alisal, plentifully adorned with photos, artwork, mission style furniture, and Indian rugs. A portrait of Lummis by Gerald Cassidy, now at the Autry National Center, hangs on the far wall. Lummis was very much a part of the Arts and Crafts movement in California which championed rusticity, natural materials, and folk art.

 

Image # 00062058

Los Angeles Herald Examiner Collection, Image # 00047541

This 1949 photograph is an excellent study of the fenestration at El Alisal. Lummis enjoyed designing windows; some windows were placed at child’s-eye level. The same year the Southern California Historical Society took up the idea of turning the derelict building into a museum. Although things did not pan out that way at first, in 1965 the society finally was able to acquire use of the house as their headquarters, in an arrangement with the city that lasted 50 years. SCHS offered docent-led tours of the home’s exterior and a few interior rooms. Safety concerns and the need to use some rooms for offices made a full tour impossible.

 

Herald-Examiner Collection, Image #00050164

In the 1980s the exterior of the Lummis Home took on a different look as the group Friends of the Lummis Home and Garden took on responsibility for landscaping and maintaining the surrounding acreage. Lummis’ rough two plus acres were transformed into a demonstration garden of drought tolerant plants. The image above shows an editor’s crop marks indicating that the photo was destined for publication, probably in the Herald-Examiner.

 

Security Pacific National Bank Collection Image #00062085

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00062085

An undated interior shot of the ground floor tower niche shows Lummis’ own glass photographs used as small window panes. The photographs in this set of windows are now gone; however, others exist in the main room of the house and make fascinating viewing (below).

 

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Security Pacific National Bank Collection Image #00031210

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00031210

The King in his Castle

Lummis in his “Lion’s Den”: the framed photo of him with Teddy Roosevelt taken during the president’s visit to Los Angeles in 1912. This image was probably captured toward the end of Lummis life; he died in 1928 at the age of 69. His home survives in the care of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and is open for public tours. There have been changes since the City of Los Angeles took over direct management of this cultural treasure and the Historical Society of Southern California moved out early in 2015. To check it out, see http://www.laparks.org/dos/historic/lummis.htm.

 

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Special thanks to the welcoming and friendly Saturday docents who gave us a wonderful tour January 23, 2016!

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