Sunday, February 20, 2011

"El Alisal"

Today, if you wanted to rub shoulders with prominent thinkers, writers and entertainers, you'd probably try to wangle an invitation to one of Arianna Huffington's salons at her Brentwood mansion.

In the early 1900s, however, you'd head to the home of Charles Fletcher Lummis in what is now Highland Park.

Lummis, a prolific writer, champion of the Southwest and, for a while, Los Angeles' head librarian, played host to some of the biggest movers and shakers of his time, including humorist Will Rogers, naturalist John Muir, attorney Clarence Darrow and composer John Philip Sousa.

In 1895 Lummis bought a three-acre plot of land for himself, his wife, Eve, and their two small children in the Arroyo Seco that would become his home and the site of his "noises."

He called the house El Alisal, Spanish for "place of the sycamore" in honor of the some 30 sycamore trees on the property. He built the concrete and rock home, which boasted a circular 30-foot tower, almost solely by himself, lugging boulders from the arroyo for the exterior walls.

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