Landmark Pioneers

Pala Campanile 1901 452

Photo from magazine Land of Sunshine, December 1901.

I did a post a while back about the magazine Land of Sunshine, a monthly published from the mid-1890s through the early 1920s. It offers some excellent articles and great photography on the people, places and culture of southern California at the time, especially during the editorship of Charles Fletcher Lummis, from 1893 to 1909.

Lummis was a prolific researcher, writer and photographer of the southwestern United States. He was also an activist. Among issues he spoke and wrote about were the rights of Native Americans and the need for historic preservation.

In 1895 he was among the founders of the Landmarks Club, its proclaimed purpose “to conserve the missions and other historic landmarks of southern California.” Such volunteer efforts marked the beginning of the historic preservation movement in California.

A story in the magazine’s December 1901 issue describes a visit by Lummis and other club members the previous month to Pala “to arrange for the immediate repair of the Old Mission Chapel.”

The project, Lummis wrote, had been initiated by a grant from Phoebe Hearst, at that time a well-known philanthropist and advocate of women’s rights as well as the mother of William Randolph Hearst.

But Lummis added that the project was “now as generously facilitated by the patriotism of the people of Pala.”

“The old chapel was found in much better condition for salvage than had been feared,” wrote Lummis. “The earthquake of two years ago—which was particularly severe at this point—ruined the roof and cracked the characteristic belfry, which stands apart. But thanks to repairs to the roof made five or six years ago by the unassisted people, the adobe walls of the chapel are in excellent preservation.”

Still, a lot of work needed to be done to restore the building to its original condition, and Lummis spoke glowingly of the support extended by the local residents.

“In the evening, after the committee had made its measures and specifications for the necessary repairs, there was a little gathering [at the nearby general store].”

About 15 heads of families attended, Lummis stated, reflecting the local population of Native Americans and descendants of Mexican families from the mission days, and the newer Anglo arrivals since 1848.

“After a brief statement of the situation, the Paleños were asked if they would help. ‘I will give 10 days work,’ said John A. Giddens, the first to respond. ‘Another ten,’ said Luis Carillo. And so it went. There was not a man present who did not promise assistance.”

“The entire trip was heart-warming;” wrote Lummis, “and the liberal spirit of this little settlement…surpasses all records in the Club’s history.”

Source for this post was the magazine Land of Sunshine. It is in the public domain and has been scanned and digitized on the archives.com website. Go to https://archive.org/ and search for Land of Sunshine.

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