Bolton Hall Historical Museum

10110 Commerce Avenue
Tujunga, CA 91042

818-352-3420

History: For over twenty years the heavy wooden doors of Bolton Hall in Tujunga were tightly secured. The solid stone building, once the heart of a fledgling community, came to life once more in 1980, and a cherished dream was realized by the Little Landers Historical Society. Soon after the turn of the century Glorietta Heights (located on part of the Mexican land grant of Rancho Tujunga) came to the attention of Marshall Hartranft, a land developer who engaged William E. Smythe, and editor who recognized the miracle of irrigation to publicize the upper slopes of the chaparral-covered pass. Believing that families settling on an acre or two of land could support themselves and prosper, Smythe founded a movement known as "Little Lands" and had already established colonies in san Ysidro, Hayworth Heath and Cupertino.

In 1913 settlers moved onto acre and half acre lots, calling themselves Little Landers. In April of that year Hartranft donated five lots, contracted for and financed construction of a meeting house. Using rocks gathered from local hillsides and Tujunga Wash, George Harris, "Nature Builder," designed the edifice to harmonize with its setting between the Verdugo Hills and San Gabriel Mountains. Slightly arched windows hint of Spanish influence while inside a great fireplace resembles a natural precipice under which Indians might have built their fires.

The Clubhouse, as it was first known, was dedicated in August of 1913 and immediately became the hub for all community activities - town meetings, church services, socials and dances. The first public library in the San Fernando Valley was in Burbank; the second in newly opened Bolton Hall; the third in Sunland six months later. One might reasonably assume the name "Bolton Hall" was chosen to honor some local hero named Bolton. However, Smythe managed to honor his friend the author Bolton Hall (whose writings concerning land development had inspired to Smythe) and to perpetuate a harmless pun. A variety of factors contributed to the demise of the Little Landers movement - an economic recession, World War I and a growing cynicism about the "ideal life" which failed to bring financial gains. By 1920 the idea of the colony had waned.

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