By Tom Carroll
Dropping out of Harvard sets you on a certain path. For Charles Fletcher Lummis, this choice would be the first of many idiosyncratic decisions in a life crisscrossing America. Starting in Massachusetts and ultimately ending in Los Angeles—Lummis would be a poet, a writer, a librarian, an editor, a flamboyant dresser and a Native American rights activist. At 25, he walked from Ohio to Los Angeles, keeping notes and falling in love with the “Southwest” (a term he claimed to have coined). This passage would color how he thought about the West and instill a driving need to preserve rapidly fading Native American culture. His amassing of artifacts, photographs, and general knowledge would culminate in his founding of the first museum in Los Angeles, the Southwest Museum. Lummis dove headfirst into life—wide-eyed and excited—finding the beauty and wisdom in corners of America.
Creator and host of the popular YouTube series “Tom Explores LA,” Tom Carroll is a journalist currently studying at USC.
By Elizabeth Logan
In case you are still sorting out dessert, we offer pie recipes from the 1951 church cookbook of the First Evangelical United Brethren Church. Church history places the congregation’s roots in 1884 Los Angeles in the Fireman’s Hall on Main Street. The church moved to its first sanctuary in 1887 at 718 S. Olive and then to the corner of 12th and Hope Streets in 1904. The denomination served the city’s German American families – many of whom were migrants from the mid-west. Even as late as the 1950s, the church featured a German language service at their location at the corner of Washington and Van Ness. Merging with the United Methodist Church in late 1960s, the history of their congregation serves as a reminder of the diversity of religious practice in Los Angeles and supplies us with a pretty great apple pie recipe at the bottom of the page.
Elizabeth Logan is the Associate Director of the Institute on California and the West
By Erin Chase
Today marks the 79th anniversary of the death of architect Sumner P. Hunt. One of the most influential architects in Southern California, Hunt was responsible for designing major public buildings in Los Angeles including the Raymond Hotel, the Southwest Museum and the Automobile Club headquarters downtown. But it was Hunt’s original design for the iconic Bradbury Building that is perhaps the most well-known and the most mysterious. In 1892, Hunt was hired by Lewis Bradbury to design his namesake building, but legend has it that Bradbury was unimpressed with Hunt’s design and he turned the project over to George Wyman, a draughtsman in Hunt’s office to complete it. To this day it is still undetermined what part, if any, Hunt had in the final look of the building.
Erin Chase is Assistant Curator of Architecture & Photography at The Huntington Library. Her great-great grandfather, architect A.W. Eager, was in partnership with Sumner Hunt from 1899-1908. Photo of the Bradbury Building at 304 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, is courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Joshua Bean died 165 years ago today. Joshua Bean was one of the many Kentuckians who made their way west in the middle of the 19th century. A soldier, a soldier of fortune, a saloon owner, a vigilante, and a politician, Bean ran “The Headquarters,” his bar and store, near the Mission San Gabriel. He came to an inglorious end in 1852, when Felipe Reid, son of Hugo Reid, the Scotsman who owned Rancho Santa Anita, shot him. The circumstances are murky; Reid may have killed Bean in a dispute regarding a woman. The murder sparked vigilante reprisals led, in part, by Bean’s younger brother, Phantly, a man better known, and cinematically misunderstood, as “Judge Roy” Bean.
In 1949, Edward Roybal, who had been defeated in an earlier attempt, won election to the Los Angeles City Council on the strength of one of the first multiracial coalitions to elect a minority candidate. His candidacy symbolized postwar Mexican American aspirations. The coalition united organized labor with the Catholic Church amidst the multiethnic neighborhoods of the 9th District. Roybal also owed his council victory to a grassroots voter registration drive headed by Mexican American activist women (including Roybal’s wife Lucille). Roybal became the first Latino elected official to serve on the L.A. City Council since 1881. He served 13 years before resigning his position to run for U.S. Congress in the new 30th Congressional District, which included Boyle Heights, downtown L.A., MacArthur Park, Hollywood, and Hancock Park. The 30th District was one of the most racially and socio-economically diverse districts in the State of California. Roybal used the same multiracial political coalition to win his congressional race on this date in 1962. He served in Congress for 30 years.
Drawn, in part, from Andrea Thabet, Shawn Landres, and William Deverell, Space to Lead: A Century of Civic Leadership in Los Angeles, forthcoming.
By Brian Frehner
Born in 1856, Edward L. Doheny headed west shortly after high school graduation, worked as a mining prospector throughout the region, and eventually arrived in Los Angeles. One day in 1892, he asked a passerby by what was the black tarry substance dripping from his wagon and was told it was brea, Spanish for “tar,” that it came from the Westlake Park district, and would be used for fuel at a nearby ice plant. This encounter prompted Doheny to partner with Charles A. Canfield, a colleague he met while mining in New Mexico, and together they leased a tar pit where they dug a pit in search of oil near Glendale Boulevard and Second Street in downtown Los Angeles, just south of Echo Park. Although this initial well did not greatly enrich the men, it prompted Doheny to continue searching for oil. He drilled eighty-one additional wells in Los Angeles that produced 350,000 barrels. Guided by a geologist’s map, Doheny traversed the state to stake claims, dig wells, and open new fields. These efforts greatly enriched him and placed him atop an expansive California oil industry.
Brian Frehner is an Associate Professor of History at University of Missouri, Kansas City
A photo of the original plaque, which was broken at the 1941 centennial ceremony at the Workman House. Image courtesy of the Homestead Museum.
By Paul Spitzzeri
With a glass plaque mounted on a door at his home, now part of the Homestead Museum in City of Industry, William Workman commemorated the arrival on the Old Spanish Trail from New Mexico of what is commonly known as the Rowland-Workman Party on November 5, 1841. For the British-born Workman the date was memorable because it was Guy Fawkes’ Day, an English holiday. For us in Los Angeles 175 years later, we should remember the arrival of approximately 65 Americans, New Mexicans and Europeans as part of a westward movement that included the arrival in northern California of the Bidwell-Bartleson Party the previous day and which preceded the American invasion and seizure of Mexican California just five years later.
Paul R. Spitzzeri is the Museum Director for the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum
By Peter Collopy
On November 2, 1891, classes began at Throop University—the school that would become Caltech—in a rented building in downtown Pasadena. Founder Amos Throop was a Universalist preacher and abolitionist politician who made his fortune in lumber and real estate in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles, where he bought orchards and farms, in 1880. His school offered courses in literature, music, art, elocution, stenography, typewriting, and law—with only six faculty. Throop University had trouble recruiting students, so its trustees renamed it Throop Polytechnic Institute in 1893 and reorganized it to train Pasadena’s youth, from elementary school through college, for factory work in an industrial society. Although namesake Amos Throop passed away in 1894, over the decades that followed Throop Polytechnic Institute formed alliances with influential scientists—astronomer George Hale, physicist Robert Millikan, and chemist Arthur Noyes—and reinvented itself again as a pioneering science and engineering university, renamed the California Institute of Technology in 1920.
Historian Peter S. Collopy is the University Archivist at the California Institute of Technology.