Photo left: Charles F. Lummis as he appeared following his trek across the continent in 1885.

Photo Right: Lummis and Theodore Roosevelt, Harvard classmates and two men who admired each other greatly.




1859 - 1928

Charles Fletcher Lummis is a descendant of Edward Lumas of Ipswich, Massachusetts (who was a first cousin to Joseph Loomis and who preceded Joseph to the New World by three years). As you will see from the biography below, Charles was an early preservation activist when few others cared about our historical heritage. A great debt is owed to this man who was way ahead of his time and put all his energies to the cause.



A Yankee Restores Spanish Shrines in the Old Southwest

By Dudley C. Gordon, President, Chalres F. Lummis Memorial Association

Much of the rehabilitation and restoration of Southern California’s Spanish missions, dating from the latter part of the 18th century, awaited the help of a 19th century Harvard educated Yankee who reached the West by walking 3,000 miles: Charles F. Lummis. Born in 1859 in Lynn, Mass., Lummis founded the Landmarks Club of Southern California in 1895 and became a moving force behind the preservation of the area’s historic missions.

While at Harvard, Lummis studied under Charles Eliot Norton, the noted classical scholar. Norton, one of the rescuers of Niagara Falls who saved it from economic exploitation, served as an example which encouraged Lummis to follow in this footsteps.

3,000-Mile Walk

Lummis’ great love for the West was strengthened during his 30 mile per day, 3,000-mile walk from Cincinnati to Los Angeles in 1884-85. It was not that he lacked the money to make the trip in a more comfortable fashion; this was simply a device to land a job on the Los Angeles Times, writing a series of weekly letters recounting his experiences en route.

Visiting the San Fernando Mission to make a photographic study for his magazine, Lummis found the roof of the Franciscan mission caved in and great gaps in the adobe walls. That sight was the inspiration for the formation of the Landmarks Club, which was incorporated in 1895. The Club later was influential in restoring the mission of San Juan Capistrano and Asistencia of San Antonio de Pala, with the help of native Indians and experts in Spanish-America architecture.

Conservation with T. R.

For years Lummis enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with President Theodore Roosevelt, a contemporary of his at Harvard. Teddy Roosevelt was a constant reader of Lummis’ magazine. Upon attaining the Presidency, he summoned Lummis to Washington to assist in the preparation of his first address to the Congress. Lummis’ contribution dealt with conservation, irrigation and Indian affairs, laying the groundwork for the new President’s innovative conservation program.

When Lummis arrived in the capital, T. R. introduced him by saying, “Lummis is the editor of the only magazine I have time to read. I always read it because I am interested in so many things for which he works.”

Missions Preserved

Through his work with the Landmarks, Club as well as his services a author, editor, Librarian for the City of Los Angeles, and archaeologist and historian for the Southwest Museum, which he founded in 1907, Lummis was crucial to the preservation of Southern California’s Spanish heritage. The efforts of preservation groups like the Landmarks Club have made it possible for Americans today to enjoy the beauty of such missions as the San Juan Capistrano (erected by Father Junipero Serra in 1776), the San Fernando Mission (1797), the San Diego Mission (1769), the adobe home of California Governor Pio Pico, and others.

Had it not been for the Landmarks Club, the State of California would have been without a monument last years when it celebrated the bicentennial of Father Serra’s building of the San Diego Mission. Had it not been for the foresight of an uprooted Yankee, the Southwest might have forsaken an integral part of its history.

Here is a link to a recently released book on      Charles F. Lummis.


          © 2010 Loomis Families of America