Charles F. Lummis was an author, activist and historian who, after dropping out of Harvard in 1884, decided to walk from Cincinnati to Los Angeles in a pair of street shoes. He had been offered a job as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and as he made his way across the country by foot, he captivated the nation with weekly letters of his escapades and detailed descriptions of the countryside he passed through.
Upon his arrival, he was named first city editor. A do-it-yourself kind of guy, when Lummis was faced with the decision of where he would hang his hat in his new city, he decided he’d like to live in a castle. Los Angeles did not have an abundance of castles for sale, so Lummis built one by hand out of stones he pulled out of the river. The 4,000-square-foot home took 13 years to build.
By taking a much shorter walk than Lummis did, you can enjoy a free tour of his castle house and gardens, now a historical landmark displaying artifacts and tales of the adventures of this little-known eccentric. The house is credited with being one of the first to spark the Arts & Crafts aesthetic that would soon monopolize architecture styles. Word on the street is that by asking for the “dirty tour,” you become privy to a much more interesting version of Lummis and his shenanigans.
Know Before You Go
El Alisal is located at 200 E. Avenue 43. Hours are Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.