Then and Now
The Little Landers Colony and Bolton Hall
In the early years of this century a man named William Ellsworth Smythe maintained that any man could support himself and his family on a single acre of irrigated land. He also believed in co-operative marketing, so that profits could remain for the benefit of the group.These ideas caught the attention of people who wanted a living from their own property and the movement was created that became known as the "Little Landers".
Several colonies were started in California, among them the one called Los Terrenitos (now Tujunga). It was started in 1913 on land bought from Mr. M. V. Hartranft and the colonists purchased lots of various sizes in order to build their homes and raise vegetables and animals.
They soon found many large rocks on the land, and so these stones were used in the building of the early homes. You can still see the best of the stonework in Bolton Hall, built by George Harris in 1913 as a town meeting hall where church services and other events were held.
Mr. Harris stated "...Natural construction is doing a thing the best we can with the material most convenient at hand... One must forget most of the teachings and observation of present day ideas and things, and put himself in the place of Robinson Crusoe, in fact, he must go back almost to the beginning, forget what he knows, and figure it out for himself...This house... is constructed on mission lines of natural material... If a stone is rolled down the hill its shape and the ground on which it stops will determine its position." Mr. Harris and his crew cemented the stones into the walls in the exact positions in which they stopped. Here is what he said about the interior "This great fireplace is not rustic masonry but natural construction...The great log which forms the mantelpiece might have been simply part of a tree chopped for firewood and used for the purpose because of its convenience. The color scheme of the interior is made eternal, every-changing panorama in which every color of the rainbow may be seen. Standing here on the floor and looking up you get the impression that you might have looking through the dense foliage of a great tree to the blue sky.
The Little Landers Colony struggled through economic recession and wartime, but it was difficult for people to make livings on such small parcels of land, and by 1920 the colony as such ceased to exist, however the stone meeting house later became the Tujunga City Hall (complete with a jail). Currently it is the Bolton Hall Museum and home of the Little Landers Historical Society. Located at 10110 Commerce, Tununga CA 91042, it is open on Tuesdays and Sundays between 1 and 4 P.M. for research. Admission is free.
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