Highland Park’s historic Lummis Home left in limbo

Lummis Home is closed most of the week

HIGHLAND PARK — It has been nearly 2-1/2 years since the city began negotiating with Occidental College about managing and restoring the Lummis Home, a city and state historic landmark built out of arroyo stones.  However, the city and college have yet to reach an agreement, leaving one of Northeast L.A.’s most important historic and cultural sites to sit idle and open only a few hours a week.

Located next to the Arroyo Seco Parkway at Avenue 43, the two-story home with a tower and courtyard was built more than a century ago by Charles Fletcher Lummis, a journalist and civic activist who help establish the nearby Southwest Museum.

The city-owned property had been previously managed for nearly 50 years by the  Southern California Historical Society. But at the end of 2014, the historical society moved out after its offer to continue to manage the property was rejected by Recreation and Parks Department, which wanted to find an organization that had greater financial and technical resources to run and restore the property.

Ariel Van Zandweghe, who was the curator of the home when it was managed by the historical society, told The Eastsider in late 2013 that he feared that the house would be “eventually boarded up, vandalized and totally destroyed” before the city found a new manager.  Though the Lummis Home has not been boarded up, there are no records to indicate that the city has worked to deal with deferred maintenance or expand access to the public. Right now, the Lummis Home is open only five hours a day on Saturday and Sunday.

In the summer of 2014, Occidental College stepped forward to takeover the Lummis Home. The Board of Recreation & Parks Commissioners  authorized city staff to negotiate a “partnership agreement” with the Eagle Rock college to manage the property.

But no partnership agreement has been reached. What happened?  Officials with Recreation and Parks and Occidental College did not have much to say about the agreement, except that they are working on it.

“Nothing has been finalized with Occidental College,” said Recreation and Parks spokeswoman Rose Watson. “We are currently managing the facilities at the moment.”

Looks like the city will be managing the property for quite a while. College spokesman James Tranquada said financing still needs to be secured to make the deal happen.

“We are still talking to the city and trying to find the necessary funds to make this project possible,” Tranquada said. “We still have a significant amount to raise.”

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  1. I’m guessing the Friends of the Southwest will come to the rescue. They are very committed to preserving Lummis’ legacy.

  2. As it happens, Rec and Parks GM Mike Shull is doing a Reddit AMA this morning, so I just asked him about Lummis House. https://www.reddit.com/r/LosAngeles/comments/5vr3uk/city_of_la_ama_general_manager_recreation_and/de4fojc/

    Thanks for shining a light on this important landmark and the questions hanging over its future.

  3. Occidental will probably just sit and let it rot like the artist studios they bought on York Blvd.

  4. Another CD1 leadership fail? Lummis Home, Southwest Museum, Abbey San Encino, Audubon Center, Debs Park Lake and even Judson Studios are all in the periphery instead of being celebrated. Eagle Rock and Silverlake would be over the moon to have these historic landmarks and the tourism they could draw. Could you imagine if this kind of differed maintenance went on at the Gamble House?

  5. Thank you Eastsider for the follow-through on this story. Much much appreciated. I’m writing to Cedillo’s office and I urge anyone else interested to do the same!

  6. They should do more events here. They can sell plants maybe have a farmers market here also. That would be a nice thing for the area.

  7. Cedillo is a freaking disaster, in almost every detail of civic responsibility he fails. The Lummis House could be a tourist destination much like the Schindler House in West Hollywood or the Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Park . This house could easily become profitable with the right amount of private and public partnership. A great example of Arroyo Seco history that is rarely told with direct connections to the original inhabitants of the foothills. But hey Cedillo has Poncho Sanchez in the park every year so at least Sycamore park gets cleaned and cleared out of camps for his jazz concert. What is it three murders in the last year around that park?

  8. Maybe Nick Hummingbird who is now at Hahamongna nursery could open a California native nursery on the grounds run by native Californians

    The grounds would be beautiful and restored to where they should have all along.

    Maybe he could organize community events and workshops as well dealing with indigenous plants and people

    I am sure Lummis would be happy

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