By Tyler BIDDLE
On April 13, the Little Landers Historical Society of Tujunga kicked off its celebration honoring the 100th year since Bolton Hall was constructed. The historic monument and museum has stood on the corner of El Centro Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, now Commerce Avenue and Valmont Street, in Tujunga since 1913. Bolton Hall served originally as the community clubhouse for town meetings, dances and church gatherings.
With over 200 people organized on the front lawn on Saturday, the event marked the beginning of a months-long celebration with a set of programs dedicated to commemorate historical events related to Bolton Hall and Tujunga history. The next program, the Historic Home Tour, is scheduled for May 11.
The celebration was highlighted by a historical reenactment of the laying of the cornerstone and of the speeches made by William E. Smythe and George Harris, individuals instrumental in the creation of Bolton Hall and the movement behind it.
Smythe was the founder of the Little Lands movement, the settling of colonists calling themselves “Little Landers” into the surrounding area. The actor spoke as though the audience were a group of travelers from 1913 and explained how they would build homes, plant crops and open trade as a community with Bolton Hall at its center.
George Harris was the architect who built Bolton Hall. Using stones from the San Fernando Valley and the Tujunga Wash, he hoped to make it as naturalistic as possible.
“I built this clubhouse without a plan, except for one: that it blend in with nature,” said actor Richard Stewart who portrayed Harris. The performance harked back to the days of rugged individualism and frontier development.
The celebration also featured singer Franny McCartney performing, “America the Beautiful” in front of the live action recreation of the famous photograph of George Harris and his workers sitting on the newly laid cornerstone.
Numerous accolades were presented to the Little Landers Historical Society for its efforts to preserve Bolton Hall and the history of Sunland-Tujunga as a whole. Among them were a certificate of congratulations from L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a slice of the original 1914 flagpole that once stood on the front lawn.
The museum itself houses a variety of artifacts from the surrounding area’s history. It boasts a beautiful classic fireplace, its mantel made from half of a tree trunk. In front of the fire sit two wooden wagon wheels from the last covered wagon to have made the trip from Arizona to California as well as the remnants of a time capsule dating back to the 1960s. The museum also has an impressive collection of old photographs on display and the Bolton Hall piano, which is over 90 years old.
On the wall opposite the grand fireplace rests a large bronze plaque describing the philosophy and “hope” of the Little Landers:
That individual independence shall be achieved by millions of men and women walking in the sunshine without fear of want. That in response to the loving labor of their hands the Earth shall answer their daily prayer ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ That they and their children shall be the proprietors rather than tenants working not for others but for themselves. That theirs shall be the life of the open – the open sky, the open heart – fragrant with the breath of flowers more fragrant with the Spirit of Fellowship which makes the good of one the concern of all and raises the individual by raising the Mass.”
~ William Ellsworth Smythe
Bolton Hall Museum is open to the public on Sundays and Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For full descriptions and times for the upcoming events, visit www.LittleLandersHistoricalSociety.org.