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Behind the battle to preserve LA's historic Lummis Home

Lummis Home - tower and mission-inspired wall

Sharon McNary/KPCC

The curved wall was inspired by the missions Charles Lummis saw in California.

Lummis Home -- exterior cracks

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Curator Ariel van Zandweghe shows cracks in a window and wall of the Lummis Home

Lummis Home - interior crack

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Ariel van Zandweghe, curator of the Lummis Home, points out large cracks in an interior wall.

Lummis Home - front exterior

Sharon McNary/KPCC

The front exterior of the Lummis Home was left unfinished after the death of Charles Lummis' son at age 6 of pneumonia. Lummis said that if his son could not enter the house through that door, nobody else would. A balcony connecting two upstairs doors and shading the large front door was never built.

Lummus Home -- bell

Sharon McNary/KPCC

A bell in the wall of the Lummis Home. Historians say it may be from the refectory of the San Gabriel Mission.

Lummis Home -- dining room

Sharon McNary/KPCC

The dining room of the Lummis Home, appearing much as it did in the 1920s.

Lummis Home -- plaque

Sharon McNary/KPCC

The ashes of Charles Lummis are interred behind a plaque at the home he built above the Arroyo Seco.

Lummis Home -- Breezeway

Sharon McNary/KPCC

A breezeway provides shade on the courtyard of the Lummis Home

Lummis Home -- fountain and guest house

Sharon McNary/KPCC

The two guest homes built next to the Lummis House lost their second stories to damage in the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake.

Lummis House -- tower

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Stone tower at the Lummis House.

Lummis Home -- kitchen roof vent

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Charles Lummis intended the kitchen to have a large open pit fire at its center, hence the large roof vent.

Lummis Home - hours

Sharon McNary/KPCC

The Historical Society of Southern California opens the Lummis House to the public 12 hours a week. The rest of the time, it serves as the society's headquarters.


The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks is looking for a new caretaker to help make the historic Lummis Home more self-sufficient. That might mean ousting the Historical Society of Southern California, which has been headquartered in the building since 1965.

In the past year or so, cracks appeared on both inside and exterior walls and are growing beyond the society's ability to pay for repairs.

"On the corner of this wall, this chimney is part of the fireplace, and there are some cracks over here," Lummis Home curator Ariel van Zandweghe told KPCC during a recent tour. "Eventually, if it’s not fixed, if not reinforced, the chimney can fall."

The Historical Society of Southern California wants to fix the problem and restore the home, but without a long-term lease, the group says it cannot get grants to diagnose the damage or to reconstruct the building to the high standards needed for a state landmark that's also on the National Register of Historic places.

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#KPCCforum: 5 events you don't want to miss in January 2014

Curiosity Rover

NASA/JPL-Caltech

This artist's concept depicts the rover Curiosity, of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, as it uses its Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument to investigate the composition of a rock surface.

Now that the new year is here we're getting geared up for a whole new set of programs at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum. We've stepped up our game and we're bringing you live, in-person discussions on the coming-of-age industry in Texas, a horror film director's take on our current education system, and a panel on the amazing feats and discoveries made by the Mars rovers over the last ten years.

Suffice to say, here's a short list of first five events you don't want to miss this January 2014:

1. What M. Night Shyamalan found out about the education system

What:  'He Got Schooled: M. Night Shyamalan on closing the education gap | Q&A with author, book discussion

When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13

Why you should go: "The Sixth Sense" director M. Night Shyamalan has taken an outsider's view on education, and his findings are surprising. He'll be sharing his research and theories on how to close the education gap with KPCC's Tess Vigeland.

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Your picks for the 7 biggest stories on KPCC in 2013

It was a year scarred by tragedy and marred by scandal, but not without its lighter moments. With 2013 nearly behind us, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the stories that you told us were the most interesting, as determined by your visits. These are the stories that were among the most-viewed on KPCC.org.

1. The hunt for Christopher Dorner (February)


By far the largest story of 2013 was the bizarre shooting rampage and hunt for scorned former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. The manhunt began shortly after the mysterious murder of  the daughter of a former police captain and her fiancee. It drew national attention after the assassination of Riverside officer Michael Crain and intensified after detectives discovered a rambling manifesto that called for vengeance against a department Dorner believed had slandered him. The coverage took several odd detours after officers accidentally fired on civilians who had been driving trucks similar to Dorner's in two separate incidents. By the time several websites and Facebook pages popped up rooting for the cop-killer, the fugitive Dorner was thought to have escaped to Mexico. He was eventually discovered and cornered in a cabin in Big Bear, where investigators say he took his own life. 

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LA Sheriff: 7 defendants in obstruction of justice case plead not guilty

Thomas O'Brien

Ric Francis/AP

Thomas O'Brien, a former U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, is representing a sheriff's deputy who has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges. The deputy claims to actually be a whistleblower.

UPDATE: Deputy James Sexton pled not guilty in federal court Monday afternoon.

At the request of Sexton and with the consent of federal prosecutors, the judge is allowing Sexton to keep two firearms at home. Neither his defense attorney nor prosecutors would say why. All other defendants in the case have been ordered to surrender their weapons.

Sexton’s father was in court. Ted M. Sexton is one of 13 high ranking chiefs within the Sheriff’s Department. He heads the Homeland Security Division. Sexton declined to comment on the charges against his son.

Eleven other defendants in various other indictments have all entered pleas.

ORIGINAL STORY: Six of the seven former and current Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employees accused of trying to block an FBI investigation into the jails have entered not guilty pleas in federal court.

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U.S. Attorney still waiting on pleas from some sheriff's department defendants

LA Sheriff Corruption

Nick Ut/AP

Andre Birotte, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, at podium, and Bill Lewis, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division, right, at Monday's announcement of criminal cases filed against 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.

Seven of 18 current and former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials indicted Monday on federal corruption and civil rights charges have pleaded not guilty. Nine others have not entered pleas, and two have yet to surrender to authorities in the wide ranging federal investigation.

Sixteen of the 18 defendants are currently with the Sheriff's Department but are suspended with pay.

RELATED: How do you police the police? Experts and politicians say it's not easy overseeing the country's largest jail system

U.S. Attorney’s spokesman Thom Mrozek said Deputy James Sexton and former Sergeant Eric Gonzalez are traveling and will surrender in the "near future."

“We do not consider them fugitives,” Mrozek said.

Gonzalez is accused of encouraging deputies under his command to “engage in excessive force” against visitors who “disrespected” deputies at the Twin Towers Jail in downtown Los Angeles. One man suffered a fractured arm at the hands of deputies under Gonzalez, who allegedly covered up the abuse.

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