Did you know that from 1784 to 1875, the Crescenta-Cañada Valley was the Spanish, then Mexican, land grant of Rancho La Cañada? And the land was considered too poor even for grazing cattle?
Did you know that the valley communities were founded by "Health Seekers," victims of tuberculosis fleeing the cold winters of the Midwest and Northeast?
Did you know that a lack of reliable sources of water hindered development of communities in the Crescenta-Cañada Valley until the middle of the 20th century?
Did you know that the construction of the 210 Freeway literally altered the topography of the valley?
You would if you were one of the nearly 900 third-graders who participated in the Lanterman House's School Program this recently completed academic year. Nearly all public school third-graders in the Crescenta-Cañada Valley, and many private school students, learn about the history of their communities through the Lanterman House.
The California State Department of Education standards mandate the study of community history in third grade, and most local schools rely on the Lanterman House to help fulfill that mandate. Our school programs are offered at no cost, and are generously supported by the city of La Cañada Flintridge and many local service organizations.
With our modestly sized, but devoted, corps of docents we use the beautiful Lanterman House, its original furnishings and gardens to teach history through material culture; constantly making connections from the past to the present, and to the lives of the students.
We use our wonderful archives of historical documents and photographs to create changing exhibits that examine life in the valley from the 1870's onward, which we often design to be initially viewed in venues such as the La Cañada High Joint Use Library and the La Cañada branch of the L.A. County Library.
We use the deeply personal stories told through our oral history program to put flesh on the bones of historical fact, and to bring the variety of individual experience to the history of our communities.
But our mission is not just to serve third-grade visitors, but all those interested in local history, historic architecture and interior design, and the forces that created the valley that we live in today. Our archives are open to the public for research on the people, houses, organizations, businesses and politics of our community histories. Our gardens are available for a relaxing stroll amid plantings nearly 100 years old. And the Lanterman House itself offers an immersion into an era of beauty and refinement not so far removed from today.
Lanterman House is the Crescenta-Cañada Valley's only history museum. We offer resources found nowhere else to which we are constantly adding, such as a research database on the historically significant properties in our communities to be completed this summer. Or the legislative papers of Assemblyman Frank Lanterman, who brought water to the foothill communities and authored the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act ,which established the rights and services now afforded the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill by the state of California.
Our aim is to teach the communities of the valley about all aspects of their history; but we cannot do that without the support of those communities. We need your help. Please become a member of the Lanterman Foundation today. You will find a printable membership form at our website: http://www.lantermanfoundation.org. And we hope to see you soon.
MELISSA PATTON is executive director of the Lanterman Historical Museum Foundation. The museum is located at 4420 Encinas Drive, La Cañada. Call (818) 790-1421.