Lummis House

The Lummis House wasn’t what I expected. I first saw the house as I sat perched, in my car, next to a stop sign at the Avenue 43 off ramp. I could vaguely see the house off in the distance through a chain link fence. My first impression of the house wasn’t positive but once I rounded the corner — and saw the open gates below — my impression changed.

You come upon the house slowly. It’s down a sandy path and obscured by trees.

Then, there it is. Isolated like an oasis from the nearby Pasadena freeway and the densely inhabited neighborhood that surrounds it.

I walked down to the end of the house and took a picture of the house from the west side with the turret prominently centered in the picture.

The front doors have been exposed to the elements for so long that they have taken on a grey tint.

There are number of brochures available at the Lummis House.

According to the brochures the house was begun in 1897 and Lummis used stones from the nearby arroyo to build the house. Supposedly, he built the entire place himself but that seems unbelievable. Even one of the brochures contradicts that and states Lummis was helped by Native Americans. The home is also known as El Alisal which means “place of the sycamores.” Lummis, who had a big ego, claimed his house was “built to last a thousand years.” The reality is the house was lucky to have survived into the latter half of the 20th century because the home was neglected after his death due to the public’s lack of interest in him and the house.

In Edwin R. Bingham’s book, Charles F. Lummis: Editor of the Southwest, Bingham states Lummis bought the land for his home in 1895 but he didn’t start work for three years then spent a decade and a half building the house. The front entrance is six feet wide and seven feet high and each door weighs almost a thousand pounds which sounds possible but a bit of an exaggeration. The museo’s floor is concrete as are most of the floors throughout the house. Bingham also states that Lummis saw the construction of his home as a way to keep his physique in shape.

In Dudley Gordon’s book, Crusader in Corduroy this story was recounted, “Once when Lummis was working on a trestle as he placed boulders in the wall of his home, a scholarly visitor from back East made a call. The astonished gentleman asked, “Why don’t you have a laborer do that kind of work?” Lummis replied, “This is my gymnasium. It keeps me fit.” The caller suggested, “Why don’t you play golf?” Lummis exclaimed, “This leaves a mark. And it will do so for centuries.”

The Lummis quote I find most amusing is from Bingham’s book and it is, “Any fool can write a book, and most of them do, but it takes brains to build a house.”

Numerous writers have stated Sumner Hunt was the architect of Lummis’ home but this building permit from the city of Los Angeles, which was filled out by Lummis himself, clearly states that Lummis is the architect of El Alisal. If there was ever an architect who worked with Lummis on the home — he was forgotten by Lummis — who takes full credit for the house according to this March 24, 1926 document.*

*Maybe, Lummis is claiming to be the architect of just the addition?

Lummis had a big personality and appeared to have an unending amount of energy. According to Charles Fisher’s book Highland Park, Lummis attended Harvard from 1877-1881 but failed to graduate. He was short, five foot tall, but liked to engage in athletics. [One of the Lummis brochures contradicts Fisher’s height claim. The Lummis Home and Garden brochure states Lummis was five foot, seven inches.] He suffered a stroke at the age of 27 and it was thought the stroke was a result of working long hours at the Los Angeles Times. Fisher states that Lummis was viewed as immodest, by some, because while working on his home Lummis was often seen wearing thin shirts and shorts.

Lummis in a green corduroy ensemble. Evidently, Lummis liked to wear the same outfit whenever he ventured out as a man about town. He had a favorite green corduroy suit, according to Fisher’s book, which is a totally inappropriate garment for the Southern California heat. Lummis would complete his Harvard-to-cowboy-get-up by wearing a sombrero and a red sash in the Spanish style. I have no idea what the Spanish style is but I suspect it can be defined as “Look at me.” Courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry Museum, Los Angeles: p. 32537.

Perry Worden, who was president of the Southern California Historical Society didn’t have an especially high opinion of Lummis. Worden stated Lummis had an abnormally developed ego, an “intolerable conceit in staking out the entire Southwest for his exclusive literary exploitation,” and a “voluptuous vanity” combined with “freakish attire, and often boorish manners.”[i]

Below is the Lummis entry From Who’s Who in California 1928-1929.

What’s up with his hair!? It’s very Sideshow Bob-ish. Notice that Lummis is a honorary member of the Davenport, Iowa Academy of Sciences. I grew up in Davenport, Iowa. I don’t think they have an Academy of Sciences anymore.

The second column of his Who’s Who entry.

Lummis was interested in saving the old California missions and he formed the Landmark’s Club for that purpose. Architects Arthur Benton and Sumner Hunt were two of the organization’s directors. I scanned this page from the January 1904 issue of OUT WEST.

This room measures 28 feet by 16 feet. It is the Museo room.

In the previous photograph of the Museo room there is a bench, covered with a serape, on the left side of the photo. You can just see the arm rest, part of the serape and part of the leg of the bench. This is the window above the bench which contains photographs that were produced as slides and inserted into it. This was done when the home was built.

One of the images in the window.

Looking out of the turret windows.

His desk.

Lummis worked in the publishing and writing fields throughout his life. He wrote books, worked as the city editor of The Los Angeles Times and was the editor and publisher of Out West and this publication The Land of Sunshine.

The master bedroom.

Lummis was married three times and divorced three times. The text on the fireplace means what you think it means.

His second wife, Eva Douglas, came to see Lummis as a “roving Lothario” according to Mark Thompson’s book American Character: The Curious Life of Charles Fletcher Lummis. She read his diaries and was able to decipher his secret code regarding his mistresses (which he mentioned in the diaries). She fled to San Francisco with her children and was taken in by Phoebe Appleton Hearst. A noisy, scandalous divorce proceeding was on the horizon until Lummis sent a letter to his wife and Hearst detailing how he planned to sue Phoebe Hearst for $100,000 due to his loss of “consortium.” He also planned on seeking damages from Hearst for kidnapping his children and turning them against him. After his written threats were delivered a quiet settlement was quickly reached.

The 1950s bathroom next to the master bedroom.

The large kitchen looks like it was last updated in the 1950s.

The peristyle on the patio side of his home.

His initials are on the door. I see the C for Charles and the L for Lummis but I’m not seeing an F for Fletcher. The iron work was done by Maynard Dixon.

I admire Lummis for what he accomplished in his life. He was the force behind the construction of the Southwest Museum and worked for the better treatment of Native Americans. He built an amazing house and sought to preserve California’s missions when few people cared about them. Lummis made a positive difference in Southern California and “The Land of Sunshine,” as he referred to it, is a better place because of him.

Lummis died on November 25, 1928 from brain cancer. He was sixty-nine years old. His ashes are buried within one of the walls of his home.

There is a KCET ARTBOUND documentary about Charles Lummis called Charles Lummis: Reimagining the American West. It can be found on YouTube and it’s 55 minutes.

______________________________________________________________________

SOURCES

Bingham, E.R. (1955). Charles F. Lummis: editor of the Southwest. San Marino: Huntington Library.

Fisher, C. J. (2008). Highland Park. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing.

Gordon, D. (1972). Crusader in corduroy. Los Angeles: Cultural Assets Press.

The Landmark’s Club. (1904, January). Out West, 20(1), 466.

Thompson, M. (2001). American character: the curious life of Charles Fletcher Lummis. New York: Arcade Publishing.

The photo of Lummis in his corduroy suit is Courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry Museum, Los Angeles: p.32537.

_______________________________________________________________________

[i] Bingham, E.R. (1955). Charles F. Lummis: Editor of the Southwest. San Marino: Huntington Library.

_______________________________________________________________________

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

 

Frank Lloyd Wright in Mason City, Iowa

Mason City, Iowa has two major FLW tourist spots. Mason City is approximately two and ½ hours northwest of Iowa City, Iowa. Frank Lloyd Wright’s only existing hotel is located in Mason City along with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Stockman House.

According to the newspaper given out on the tour, which is called Wright on the Park, the building opened in 1910. The hotel portion was in the center and “above” on the second and third floors. The hotel section opened in November 1910. The bank was on the east side and opened in December of 1910. These first five “pages” are from the Western Architect, December 1911.

I am a HUGE fan of FLW’s architecture but not a fan of his writing style. It’s too florid for me. Surprisingly, his text, here, is coherent and readable.

This configuration stood for eleven years until the bank failed in 1921. The bank went into foreclosure in 1926.

This is from the Wright on the Park newspaper. Once the bank failed the bank portion was remodeled and stores occupied the space instead. The bank’s solid horizontal wall was removed and replaced with plate glass. The photo depicts what the building looked like after the remodeling. The hotel served as an apartment building between the years 1972 and 1989! Eventually, the city bought the building and the building closed.

When the hotel reopened in 2011 it looked like this. It underwent a $18.5 million dollar restoration.

In the FLW text above, from Western Architect, Wright said Mason City was, “A city wherein most of the buildings are rather cheerless in character, so quiet colored ceramic inlays were used to brighten the exterior.” He did this because “The eyes of a modern American community are starved for color, as a rule…”

Me, at the registration desk. I was buying a key chain, a refrigerator magnet and lots of postcards.

This window is in the lobby of the hotel.

This area was the original location of the dining room.

This skylight was found installed in a Mason City resident’s home. It was brought back to the hotel when the hotel was brought back from the dead.

These doors are original to the building.

The bank portion is now used as an event space for weddings, meetings or dinners.

This space is in the fourth page of the Western Architect article. You can re-configure it in your head if you put the stained glass window on the opposite wall. Notice the skylight above in both photos. The docent said this area is used for registration or check-in when it is used for events.

The Stockman House is so wonderful inside. I wish I could find a house similar to this to live in. It was just beautiful. Photographs don’t do it justice.

The living room from a postcard I bought at the Stockman House. I would toss that spinning wheel thing-y but everything else would stay if I were ever to move in.

One of the bedrooms from a postcard I bought at the Stockman House.

This statue of Frank Lloyd Wright is across the street from the hotel.

Many of the photographs in this post were taken by my friend Bob Graef. I’m always happy to go places with him because he’s an accommodating traveling companion and a great photographer.

___________________________________________________________________

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

____________________________________________________________________

Wright, F. L. (1911, December). City national bank of Mason City, Iowa. Western Architect, 17(12), 105 plus plates.

Wright on the Park. (no date). (no publisher).

Visalia, Bakersfield and Fresno

I went to an Odd Fellows’ conference in Visalia, California. It was the first time I had gone to Grand Lodge.

The sessions were mainly centered around the business affairs of the Grand Lodge.

They gave out book bags at the registration desk.

This is Dave Reed’s banner. He explained what everything on the banner meant. Unfortunately, I’ve already forgotten but I like that big Shazzam bolt.

This was on the final night when Mel Astrahan was installed as Grand Master. That’s Mel, with the fringed collar, second from the left. The ballroom was filled with California Odd Fellows’ glitterati that night. Ernie Olson is in the red dress with the fringed top. She’s the new president of the Rebekah Assembly. Peter Sellers is down on the far right in the front row (with a red tie) and Barry Prosk stands behind him in a suite and red tie. I can’t go into too much detail about the Grand Lodge because I’m not supposed to so I won’t.

On my way to Visalia I drove through Bakersfield and found a nice theater.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day to take pictures.

It was a Fox Theater with a big tower. The word FOX runs horizontally on the tower and the clock is square.

The box office is along the front and is part of the support system for the long marquee.

There was a Fox Theater in Visalia too.

It had a tower like the one in Bakersfield but the word FOX goes vertically on this tower and the clock is round.

This box office supports the tower above.

They were able to get lots of information on the plaque but they somehow failed to include the name of the architect.

Then there was this place in Fresno. I didn’t get great pictures because of the diminishing light.

It was in great shape though.

uh, it was a Warners Theater, I’m guessing.

This is Mel’s banner. It looks like there is a big powder puff in the middle but it’s a Tribel. A Tribel like the ones in the TV series Star Trek.

___________________________________________________________________________

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

 

Triforium

I went on a LAVA tour that was conducted on March 25, 2018. The tour’s final destination was the Triforium; that strange piece of public art that opened in 1975.

The tour began in the Grand Central Market which is an old John Parkinson building. In the Market’s basement Richard Schave, the host, gave a short overview of the Triforium and then we took off for the Triforium. On the way there we made a stop at Parker Center which is a beautiful mid-century modern building.

This is Parker Center.

Parker Center opened in 1955. The architects for the building were Welton Becket & Associates and J.E. Stanton. It’s going to be torn down. Why?

There is a mural inside the building by Joseph Young titled The Mural of Los Angeles which is a mid-century modern artwork and depicts landmarks around the city. It’s scheduled to be boxed up and wheeled to a new location though that location hasn’t been determined yet.

Nathan Marsak, who is an architectural historian, was one of the speakers on the tour. He’s a snappy dresser and I noticed he was wearing a shirt with French cuffs.

This sculpture is called The Family Group by Bernard J. Rosenthal. It is slated to be saved too.

Evidently, there was some controversy about the sculpture at the time. Many people thought it was too ambiguous. It wasn’t clear what kind of family was being depicted. A white family or a black family?

The Triforium sits in the shadow of city hall.

The architects of city hall were John C. Austin, Albert C. Martin, John Parkinson.

Before we actually got to the Triforium we stopped on the bridge that spans Temple Street. Joseph Young created the Triforium and his daughter recounted her memories of her father and his ideas behind the Triforium.

That’s her in the middle. Richard Schave is on the left side, in the green jacket and blue shirt, laughing. The building in the background is the city hall annex.

The Triforium with the Federal Courthouse in the background. The Triforium’s speakers have ladybug covers over them.

There is a walkway under the Triforium and this plaque is embedded into the walkway. The time capsule is buried beneath it.

Young signed his work by attaching his signature to one of the Triforium’s legs.

What became obvious after reading various newspaper reports regarding the Triforium is that before it was finished, many Los Angeles city council members were dismissive of the Triforium and spoke disparagingly about it, in what appears to be, an effort to save their own reputations. One of the big problems, what gave the Triforium a black eye even before it was finished, was that in the summer of 1974 the city council voted to spend $210,000 to build the structure but the cost really got out of hand and the final price of the Triforium was $925,000 which is almost five times the original estimate. News reports referred to it as the million-dollar Triforium.

Like the Trylon & Perisphere at the 1939 World’s Fair, the Triforium was the “theme building” for the new Civic Center mall and while the $31 million-dollar Civic Center mall opened in April 1975 the Triforium, scheduled to open on August 8, 1975, fell behind schedule. It was still a “concrete skeleton” according to reports when it should have been finished and its opening date was pushed back to September then pushed back again and then again.

In October 1975 the City Council agreed, by a vote of 9 to 3, to hire a “program director” for the Triforium. The pay range was $14,820 for the first year and $18,468 by the fifth year. The qualifications for the director included:

  • being a graduate of a musical conservatory or a university school of music
  • a keyboard performer
  • have two years’ professional choral or instrumental experience
  • be able to program a computer.

Two of the “no” votes, who were against hiring a program director, were also negative in their comments. Councilman Ernani Bernardi sarcastically referred to the job as a phonograph player. Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky called the Triforium “the biggest joke I’ve ever seen.” Councilman Donald D. Lorenzen, who was a “yes” vote, said the Triforium cost more than expected but it’s finished and whether it succeeded or not depended on city support. The third “no” vote (Joel Wachs) wisely refrained from commenting. [note: I’m guessing this program director position no longer exists.]

Two weeks before its dedication the city council voted to approve another $3,000 to promote the advertising and public relations aspect of the entire mall which brought that total up to $38,000 but the extra money was only allotted after a great deal of heated debate. Many city council members felt they had already spent too much.

The dedication ceremony, on December 11, 1975, didn’t go as well as expected. The Triforium was described as both 6-story and 60 feet. It had 1,494 Italian-made prisms and its base was constructed of concrete and weighed 60-tons. While the Triforium looked great. There were problems with the p.a. system during the dedication ceremony and according to artist Joseph Young there was an unsightly barricade over the spot where the time capsule would be buried. Afterward, Young called a press conference to draw attention to what he called the mishandling of $38,000 spent on publicity. When writer Steve Harvey asked City Council President John Gibson about the matter Gibson responded by saying, “What’s the Triforium?” When questioned further, Gibson said “Oh, you mean the Jukebox. I don’t think there’s any problem at all. There’s nothing to investigate.”

The director of the Bureau of Public works, Marvin Levin, said regarding the time capsule that they planned to include newspapers, which detailed the opening day’s activities, but they couldn’t include them before they were published — so they had to wait until after the opening day’s events to seal the time-capsule.

At his press conference Young stated that he was paid $50,000 for the Triforium but was upset his name wasn’t on the invitations or advertisements. Young also said the failure of the public address system was because “they (the city) tampered with my work. They fooled around with the sound system and didn’t consult me.” Evidently, at the dedication ceremony many of the speeches were interrupted by a sound reminiscent of a foghorn.

An unattributed article, on December 14, 1975, titled, “An Urban Happening” had a variety of insights. First, the writer made an astute observation when he or she wrote that the future will either judge the Triforium as a great civic attraction or an embarrassment. The writer also didn’t mince words when they referred to the Triforium as enormous, weird looking and futuristic. The goal of the Triforium was to attract crowds and despite the rather inauspicious opening night the writer recounted this reaction, “At its public debut Thursday night, when the carillon let go with Let There Be Peace on Earth to the accompaniment of a panoply of lights, the audience oohed and aahed. It was nice.”

Young’s biggest mistake may have been that he copyrighted the Triforium. He claimed he always copyrighted all of his work even the murals he designed for public buildings. The city retained the ownership rights to the Triforium but Young made it clear repeatedly that he wanted a say in any commercial exploitation and he specifically stated that he didn’t want the Triforium on t-shirts. Since Young owned the copyright the city was unsure about how to use the building as a symbol. Could they use it on city stationary? In advertising? The city council probably felt like fools. They had spent almost a $1 million to construct the Triforium, they owned it and had to maintain it, but they couldn’t use it for city purposes unless they got permission from Young.

Young may have had a heightened sense of importance when he said, “To me it’s a Ravel’s Bolero, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Joe Young’s Triforium. I’m proud of it. I hope the city is, too.” He went on to say that he didn’t mind if the structure was used in conjunction with the malls’ logo as long as it was done in a manner he felt was appropriate.

Young thought very highly of his creation calling it “the Rosetta stone of art and technology.” Rosetta stone or not, I suspect the City Council had grown tired of Young’s ego and wanted to put Young “in his place” because everything they did after the dedication, including their indifference, seemed designed to sabotage the Triforium’s success.

Which is unfortunate because the Triforium should be moved to a more publicly accessible spot. Grand Park or 7th and Figureora would be ideal locations. At either of those locations it could receive the respect it deserves but if Young’s heirs still retain the copyright what motivation is there to move the structure or update it? Why should the city invest more money in an object it can’t exploit as it sees fit?

___________________________________________________________

An ubran happening. (1975, December 14). Los Angeles Times, p. J2.

Baker, E. (1975, October 29). Call for Triforium chief hits sour note in council. Los Angeles Times, p. C1.

Bernstein, S. (1975, December 14). Triforium hits its first sour note. Los Angeles Times, p. A3.

Everett, B. (1975, April 28). Mall blossoms. Los Angeles Times, p. C1.

Harvey, S. (1975, December 18). Triforium’s creater sounds off, calls for inquiry. Los Angeles Times, p. D1.

 __________________________________________________________________________________

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Morgan & Walls’ Hollenbeck Home for the Aged

Before there were government welfare programs there were private organizations that looked after Americans. One of them, in Los Angeles, was the Hollenbeck Home for the Aged. The Hollenbeck opened on September 6, 1896 and the first individuals to be admitted to the Hollenbeck Home were 5 women and 4 men. A fee of $300 was charged upfront and after that fee was paid all living expenses were covered for the duration of the individual’s stay. No matter how long they stayed (lived). Three requirements for individuals who wanted to live at the home were: they had to be of good moral character, be older than 60 and they had to sign over any personal assets to the Hollenbeck Home. “Persons financially able to care for themselves” would not be accepted or “those deranged in mind or afflicted with incurable or contagious diseases.”

Elizabeth Hollenbeck was born in Germany in 1827 and married John Hollenbeck in 1853. After living in Costa Rica for many years (which included running an outpost that catered to traders) the Hollenbecks moved to Los Angeles in 1876 and made a fortune in hotel and land development.

John Hollenbeck died on September 2, 1885 so the home’s opening corresponded to the 11th anniversary of his death. Hollenbeck was described as a very wealthy man “because he possessed only the love of his fellow-man.”

The public rooms on the opening day were described as large, sunny and airy. They were “sensibly” furnished and there was a mix of potted palms and flowers scattered throughout. A life size portrait of Mr. Hollenbeck was prominently displayed and draped in smilax. Over 1,000 people attended the dedication ceremony which was held outdoors on the Hollenbeck grounds. The program included speeches by various dignitaries including Elizabeth Hollenbeck. The speeches were interrupted with musical interludes and prayers including The King of Love sung by the First Presbyterian Church, the Lord’s Prayer chanted by the choir, an invocation delivered by the Reverend Mr. Chase and Nearer My God to Thee sung by Miss Edna Bicknell.

The administration building at the Hollenbeck Home housed the administration offices, a dining room, a kitchen and a parlor. In the north wing there was also a “modern hospital” with a trained nurse and a doctor, C. W. Evans, who was on call. The dormitory wing not only had rooms for the residents but a library and a “modern laundry.” Twenty of the dormitory rooms were furnished but the others were only carpeted so seniors could bring their own furniture if they liked. The grounds also contained a chapel with stained glass windows. The windows in the front of the building faced the mountains. The windows at the back of the building faced downtown. The cost to build the Hollenbeck Home was $55,000.

In some of the images below the Hollenbeck is referred to as a Morgan, Walls & Morgan building but the son of Octavius Morgan, who was named Octavius Weller Morgan and the second Morgan in that string of names, was only ten years old when the Hollenbeck opened in 1896.

The Morgan & Walls’ Hollenbeck Home for the Aged was torn down in 1985.

The Hollenbeck on a postcard.

This image and the three that follow were in advertisements for clay roofing tile.

I found this in the Architectural Yearbook from 1910.

____________________________________________________

A history of California and an extended history of Los Angeles and environs. (1915). Los Angeles: Historic Record Company.

For aged persons. (1896, July 31). Los Angeles Times, p. 12.

For the aged. (1896, September 7). Los Angeles Times, p. 10.

Hollenbeck Home for the Aged advertisements. (1919, April). Building Review, 17(4).

____________________________________________________

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Published in: on March 11, 2018 at 11:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Museum of Failure

The Museum of Failure was an exhibit held at the A + D Museum which is located in an industrial area of Los Angeles. The exhibit was a lot of fun and quite amusing.

I’m including the ticket because it has a seating assignment and it says to proceed directly to the entrance. Uh, you buy the tickets online so both elements seem strangely out of place.

The credo of the museum.

The exhibit started with an Edsel and quote from Henry Ford.

This is so cool. I know it’s impractical but I want one.

 

It’s a model of a DeLoren.

I had a Zune. Does that make me a loser?

I had never heard of a Power Glove but there was an episode of The Goldbergs centered around one.

This thing is just creepy but if you just want to sit around wearing a mask that scares people — this is it.

Skipper. My sister never had one of these and neither did I.

Pat Sajak of Wheel of Fortune said he had one.

Men = Creepy

It doesn’t look very appetizing.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

 

Published in: on January 21, 2018 at 6:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

George Elmslie’s Capitol Building & Loan

William L. Steele* wrote an article that accompanied the photos below. Steele states that most cities want what has worked elsewhere so what happens is cities end up looking the same with a standardization in hospitals, schools, office buildings and hotels, for example, that have no regional distinction.

In Topeka, though, and because of the Capitol Building & Loan a locality was able to express itself. The building was commissioned by the president of the building & loan, Charles Elliott. Elliott wanted to hire Louis Sullivan for the job but by this point in Sullivan’s career he probably wasn’t well enough to undertake the work. The building was situated at the northeast corner of 6th and Kansas Avenues. The actual address was 534 Kansas Ave. It was a six-story building with a two-story lobby and four floors of offices.

George Elmslie was the architect of the building and Steele claims that while Elmslie was a student of Louis Sullivan and had been a partner with William Gray Purcell — Elmslie, by himself, was an architect of “power and distinction.” According to Steele, the building & loan was a small, compact building with no wasted space and because of its location where it was surrounded by “diminutive and commonplace” buildings his first reaction to the building was one of “shock” due to its originality.

This is part of a fountain, inside the building, opposite the front doors.

Emil Zettler, who studied at the Art Institute in Chicago, the Royal Academy in Berlin and the Julien Academy in Paris, was the building’s sculptor. Zettler’s work on the Capitol Building & Loan was naively simple, according to Steele, but “modern in its symbolism of the life and times which have given birth to this building.” The panel over the main entrance symbolized not only the agricultural and industrial aspects of Kansas but the idea of the home too.  Steele wrote, “The well-placed masonry piers with their flower-like finials at the main entrance are very beautiful. They are intended to express growth, with strong stems bursting into a bloom of finely modeled human forms. The figures on the south side of the building may be taken as symbolizing Kansas. Its history is suggested by the rugged pioneer, while its civic and cultural development is portrayed by the serene and beautiful woman opposite.”

On the building’s long, street-side the central panel around the clock suggests city life but the panel’s outer edges indicate the advantages of a rural life. Two of the figures in the panel are a sower and a winged figure that might be a “Guiding Spirit.”

Schneider was the individual who molded the terra cotta and even though Schneider was trained by Louis Sullivan, back in the “Auditorium days,” the terra cotta design was distinctively Elmslie’s.

According to Western Architect John Norton did the murals for the Capitol Building & Loan. (This name could be incorrect because the murals look very similar to the murals that John North did for the Woodbury County Court House.) There are three murals. The two smaller murals depict the “safety and peace of quiet home-life.” The larger mural deals with Kansas’ agriculture and cattle production.

Steele wrapped up the article by writing that this building would look out of place in New York or Chicago. I’m not sure that’s true but he goes on to write that a building of this beauty and originality can only occur when businessmen want something different and are willing to trust a “discerning” architect.

Sadly, the building was demolished in 1968.

Here it is on a postcard.

*The architect of the Woodbury County Court House is William LeBarth Steele. The writer of this article could be the same man.

Steele, W. L. (1924, September). The Capitol Building and Loan Association Building at Topeka, Kansas. Western Architect, (33)9, 99-100, plates 1-11.

________________________________________________________________

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

 

Scottish Rite Temple: Los Angeles

A staff used in the Scottish Rite ritual.

200 shovels were used at the ground breaking for the Scottish Rite Temple located on Wilshire Boulevard between Plymouth and Lucerne Streets. The mass ground-breaking took place on January 16, 1960, and was overseen by Superior Court Judge Ellsworth Meyer who was also master of the Scottish Rite branch in Los Angeles. He was assisted by the California Sovereign Grand Inspector General, Henry Clausen, and the president of the Los Angeles Scottish Rite Cathedral Association Myron Smith.

The erection of half of the steel frame was completed by July 31, 1960, and the other half was finished by the end of August. 1200 tons of steel were used in the structure and that amount of steel was equivalent to a seven-story building. The building was planned to be 306 feet by 130 feet and was scheduled to contain a first-floor auditorium, which would have a balcony, and have seating for 2,100.

Millard Sheets is credited as the designer of the building, but I’ve found no indication that he was an architect. Sheets “personally selected” all exterior marble in Rome and he’s responsible for the murals and mosaics too. A. Rossi carved the eight, fourteen-foot statues that adorn the exterior of the building on both Wilshire and Plymouth.  Each weighs in at approximately 27 tons and were “molded by Albert Steward of Claremont.”

A newspaper article indicated the stage and proscenium were larger than a college basketball court and the stage could hold 100 masonic backdrops. On the third floor there were three masonic lodge rooms, a lounge, kitchen, and a dining room that could seat 800. Adjacent to the building a 250 car, two-story, parking garage would rise.

Final cost of the building was $4.5 million dollars and proclaimed to be the “second most beautiful temple in the world” by Sovereign Grand Commander Luther A. Smith. Only the national headquarters’ temple in Washington, D.C. was considered more beautiful. The dedication ceremony took place on November 11, 1961, followed by a service in the auditorium at 7:30 pm. In the announcement of the dedication it stated the theater could seat 1,800, the dining room had a capacity of 1,000 and the building was 445 feet by 120 feet.

The Scottish Rite building looking toward the west.

While the front entrance is no longer used this is the entrance Masons would have used if entering from Wilshire Boulevard.

Below are the Rossi/Stewart statues along Wilshire Blvd. Each sculpture depicts a specific stage in Masonic history.

On the Plymouth Street side are these two statues and a Millard Sheets’ mosaic.

You can see Sheets’ name down at the bottom.

One of the large urns along Wilshire Blvd.

This photo gives a good indication of the scale of the building.

Inside the building is a Masonic room with paraphernalia from Los Angeles lodges.

The first Masonic lodge in Los Angeles was the 814 founded in 1853.

Past officers.

One of their many publications.

In most ritual work the lodge members dress up and enact parables often in conjunction with degree work.

One of the few windows in the building.

My friend Mark reluctantly went with me to the museum. He liked this framed image.

This was in one of their showcases.

The Marciano Art Foundation now occupies the space. Here’s a link to their website.

https://marcianoartfoundation.org/

_______________________________________________________________________________________

200 help in Scottish Rite temple start. (1960, January 17). Los Angeles Times, p. 28

Scottish Rite temple dedication set tonight. (1961, November 11). Los Angeles Times, p. I5.

Steel work advanced on Masonic temple. (1960, July 31). Los Angeles Times, p. I6.

Tour slated at Scottish temple. (1960, October 14). Los Angeles Times, p. B12.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Angels Flight

In a Los Angeles Times article from November 21, 1901, titled Up Again, Down Again the components of the new Angels Flight railway system were detailed. It stated that J. W. Eddy had been granted a franchise to run the railway by the city council in May and Eddy estimated the train would be up and running by December 1 since no serious problems or obstacles had occurred and none were expected. The Times article mentioned a terraced park, located at the top of the hill, which was nearly complete “and what was for so many years a weed patch and a dumping ground for garbage and tin cans is rapidly being converted into a sightly little park.”

The two cars, which were named Sinai and Olivet, had arrived the previous week and each car had a seating capacity of eleven but could carry twenty.* The name of the railway was a nod to the Spanish translation of the city’s name: El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles del Rio Porciuncula.

A ten horse-power motor had just arrived and it would be placed in the motor-house located at the top of the railway. The motorman would also be situated in the motor-house and would “send the cars speeding up or down by means of levers.” According to the timetables it would take one and a half minutes to complete the ride each way and the fare was one cent.

Opening day was December 31, 1901, and it was filled with excitement and some disappointment. The Times reporter stated that the concrete steps beside the funicular were filled with people awaiting the start of the railway’s run and “a large crowd” was on the platform at the top of the hill. When the motorman moved his lever both cars moved in opposite directions and the expectations of the crowd on the platform were voiced when the reporter heard whispers of, “The Mayor is coming.”

This was due to the fact that Col. Eddy had distributed flyers announcing Mayor Snyder would attend the grand opening and would be on the first car. When the first car reached the platform “a low moan of disappointment was wrung from the crowd” because his honor, the mayor, did not debark. Col. Eddy addressed the crowd and said, “I will have him here next trip.”

When the second car chugged up the hill people were still excited but only a Board of Education member and “a sporty individual” exited from this car. No Mayor Snyder. The third car to the platform contained an older gentleman and two ladies; one in an ill-fitting dress according to the reporter. The fourth car: “untitled citizens.”

“As the fifth car came up Col. Eddy was nervously wringing his hands and hoarsely ordered the camera obscura at the top of the tower opened to appease the heart-broken multitude. But at last, when hope was beginning to wither, there came another car in which stood Mayor Snyder holding on by the dashboard with one hand and his other hand back to his pistol pocket prepared to shoot the cable in two if the car showed any symptoms of shooting over the hill and into space. The crowd cheered and clapped hands and the Mayor cautiously let go (of) the dashboard and waved his hat.”

Opening day was free for anyone who wanted to ride. Col. Eddy did place a donation box near the motor-house for citizens who wanted to show their “public spirit” and deftly mentioned the slot on the box was the exact size of a twenty dollar coin. Eddy later reported a prankster inserted a check into the box for $1 million dollars signed by the Queen of Bavaria.

On the upper level you pay for your ride on the opposite side of this structure.

The Hill Street entrance across from the Grand Central Market.

Col. Eddy from Men of California 1900-1902.

Also from Men of California 1900-1902. According to Wikipedia his nickname was “Pinky.”

An advertisement inside the car.

I bought this old postcard because of the arch with the angel. This was the previous location of Angels Flight.

*In November of 1903 there was an article in the Los Angeles Times titled Sinai Comes Back to the Mountain. The article detailed how Angels Flight’s track had been rebuilt over the previous three weeks and now it was all on an “even grade.” The Sinai car had been sent out for refurbishing and had arrived back at the station – pulled by “four perspiring truck horses.” The car’s seating had been reconfigured to accommodate twenty-eight passengers along with room for twelve more — standing.

___________________________________________________

Mayor Snyder’s ascent of the “Angeles’ Flight.” (1902, January 1). Los Angeles Times, p. 12.

Sinai comes back to the mountain. (1903, November 17). Los Angeles Times, p. A1.

Up again, down again. (1901, November 21). Los Angeles Times, p. 11.

Wolfe, W. E. (1901). Men of California 1900-1902. San Francisco: Pacific Art Company.

_____________________________________________________

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Published in: on September 19, 2017 at 7:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Elmer Grey’s Lincoln Shrine

The Lincoln Shrine

Elmer Grey was asked to design the Lincoln Shrine by a citizen’s committee in charge of the memorial. From the start the consensus was to make the shrine a separate structure and not attach it to the A.K. Smiley Library which is the local Redlands, California library. The committee wasn’t sure if they wanted the shrine situated someplace on the library park grounds (Smiley Park) but Mayor Leo Lelan assured those connected with the project that the city would find a place in the library’s park if that’s what the committee wanted.

What the committee had in mind for the building, itself, was a one-story structure with two rooms: one for a marble Abraham Lincoln bust by sculptor George Gray Barnard and one to house Lincoln memorabilia. The structure was built as a shrine to Lincoln and a memorial to Ewart Watchorn, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Watchorn, who died at an early age from complications due to an injury he incurred during the first world war.

Grey created plans for a one-story, octagon structure of reinforced concrete that would be faced in Indiana limestone. Large murals by Dean Cornwell would encircle the interior walls near the top. Only Lincoln books would be housed in the structure and the bookcases would be constructed of Circassian walnut.

Work began on the $32,000 structure on June 16, 1931, and the contractor was A. E. Taylor & Son. The first order of business performed by the contractor was knocking down an old band shelter that occupied the space in Smiley Park where the shrine was to rise.

Eight months later the building was complete. The night before the dedication the Watchorns held a dinner for the Shrine’s executive committee, along with their wives, at the Wissahickon Inn. Over fifty people attended the event and after the Watchorns thanked everyone involved in the building’s construction the Reverend Lewis Jacobsen said, “Redlands wealth is (in) the type of citizens who live here and who love the place enough to build a great university, a wonderful library, a Prosellis, a Lincoln shrine and other great buildings.”

On February 12, 1932, the dedication ceremonies took place. A row of civil war veterans sat on the stage and behind them a group of African-American singers. Most of the singers were descendants of Israel Beale — a runaway slave who made his way to Redlands before the emancipation proclamation. Other participants included the University of Redlands choir, the Redlands High School band, and vocalist Ellen Beach Yaw. UCLA provost Dr. E. E. Moore gave the keynote address. Robert Watchorn presented the shrine to Mayor Lelan who accepted it on behalf of the city and presented “a basket of gorgeous spring blossoms” to Mrs. Watchorn.

Originally, it looked like this. It’s a single octagon building with a wall of Lincoln inscriptions behind it. Photo by Dan Lewis (on an old postcard).

After a million dollars was raised the wings (seen in the first photo) were added in 1998. I asked the docent if anyone objected to altering the shrine and he said, “no.”

Here’s the Benard bust. It’s lit very dramatically.

Dean Cornwell’s depiction of Strength.

This one symbolizes Justice.

Inside the shrine there was a bust of Ulysses S. Grant too. It was commissioned by the shrine in 1932. C. S. Paolo (1881-1955) was the sculptor.

There was also a Norman Rockwell painting called “The Long Shadow of Lincoln” hanging on the wall.  I felt fortunate that I was able to see it and get up close to it.

This is a photograph of Ewart. He’s the REAL reason the shrine was built.

One of the Lincoln inscriptions.

The Smiley Library, built in 1898, is across from the Lincoln Shrine.

In the children’s department were these stained glass windows. This one and the following two depict Alice in Wonderland.

It’s The Wizard of Oz. They’re amazing.

__________________________________________________________

Grey to design shrine. (1931, February 21). Los Angeles Times, p. A3.

Lincoln memorial shrine, The.  (n. d.). Redlands: Lincoln Memorial Shrine.

Lincoln shrine work begins. (1931, June 17). Los Angeles Times, p. 8.

McGroarty, J. S. (1932, February 13). Lincoln shrine dedicated. Los Angeles Times, p. A1.

Plans soon to be ready for shrine. (1931, May 17). Los Angeles Times, p. D3.

Redlands ready for dedication. (1932, February 12). Los Angeles Times, p. A16.

__________________________________________________________

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.