The Hidden Gardens of Mt Washington

August seems to be an international OOO month, but if you haven’t decided where to travel, staycation is always a good idea. There are so many beautiful places to discover in Los Angeles, and the city is large enough to make you feel that you’ve traveled far and wide without actually leaving town.  If the summer finds you in Northeast Los Angeles, may we suggest visiting the serene grounds of Self-Realization Fellowship – one of our favorite spots in beautiful Mt. Washington. Perched on a hilly street, the park is an oasis of calm – and has a fascinating history of all its own.

A Glamorous Hotel in the Golden Days of Hollywood

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“Where in Los Angeles can one obtain a veranda view of 100 miles of ocean frontage, 100 miles of rugged mountains, three emerald valleys and several cities? On Mount Washington, where you can live and be immune from dust, mud, smoke, noise, fog and frost! “– The Mount Washington Eagle (an advertising insert in Los Angeles Times), April 18, 1909

The developer, map maker and Athletic Club board member, Robert Marsh, had long been enchanted with Mount Washington. Partnering with a fellow enthusiast and electrical works manufacturer, Arthur St. Claire Perry, Marsh purchased 565 acres of property on the mountain.

As the pair began developing, Marsh and Perry decided to build a short funicular railway to take visitors up the mountain to its main attraction, the three story Mission Revival Mount Washington Hotel. Opened in 1909, the elegant hotel attracted visitors with its observation deck, tennis count and Japanese garden, and was often frequented by the moviemakers that worked in nearby Highland Park and Edendale early movie studios. Though the hotel and the railway are a thing of the past, you can still catch the aura of history by visiting its mission style station at the corner of Avenue 43 and Marmion Way.

The Home of Paramahansa Yogananda

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It’s hard to believe, but there was once a time when there were no yoga studios to be found in Los Angeles. Paramahansa Yogananda is credited to have been one of the gurus that brought the teachings of Eastern Philosophy to the West  in the mid-20th century; he came to LA in 1930’s and founded the Self Realization Fellowship monastery. In 1950, he made the former site of Mt Washington Hotel his home, and as yoga gained increasing popularity by the late 60s, the SFT became more and more well-known. Legend has it that Elvis Presley visited the center in Mount Washington in search of advice – luckily the monks advised him to continue his singing career.

Today, the contemplative garden is still a part of a working monastery.  Filled with native flora, it’s a wonderful space for quiet reflection while taking in the gorgeous views of downtown Los Angeles. There are lots of spots to perch and meditate within the garden surrounding “Yogiji”‘s original home, and we especially love the space that is known as “The Leaf Temple”– a beautiful sunken meditation garden beneath the boughs of Oak. Stop by to take a break – and if Mt. Washington neighborhood has you enchanted, come visit our beautiful listing around the corner from the garden – 4617 Cleland Ave will be Open this Saturday, 2-4P.

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The Origins of Lummis Day

If you spent any time in Northeast LA lately – and there are lots of reasons to visit, whether for a breakfast at Kitchen Mouse in Highland Park, or a hearty lunch at Patio Burger in Habitat in Eagle Rock – you’ve no doubt seen the colorful signs proclaiming that “Lummis Day” is fast approaching. An annual neighborhood event, Lummis Day Festival celebrates the arts, history and ethnic diversity of Northeast Los Angeles with educational and cultural programming that brings the community together. We are pretty excited about the festival, and seeing the banners got us thinking about all the fascinating local history. We dug a little deeper and found that the event is named after Charles Lummis – read on to find out more about this writer, builder, mythmaker and an all around fascinating personality active in NELA a century ago.

A studio photograph of Lummis taken by an unidentified photographer around 1890. Courtesy of the Southwest Museum, Los Angeles (N42477).

The Tramp Across the Continent

Charles Fletcher Lummis was born in Lynn, Mass., in 1859. In 1884, Charles Fletcher Lummis, a Harvard dropout (he was a classmate of President Theodore Roosevelt), set out to walk from Cincinnati to Los Angeles. He was offered a job as a reporter at a new paper out West, the Los Angeles Times, and thought it would be fun to write about his “tramp across the continent” in a series of dispatches to newspapers. Lummis had no shortage of adventures on his 143 days hike, developing a deep affinity for the natural beauty and cultural diversity of the Southwest along the way.

Land of Sunshine

After several years at Los Angeles Times, Lummis became the editor of Land of Sunshine magazine, a periodical that played a big part in popularizing the idea of California living. In the magazine, Charles went on to publish work by famous authors – the likes of John Muir and Jack London – that extolled the virtues of California, celebrating its natural beauty and spirit of adventure.

Civil Rights Activist

Photograph of Charles F. Lummis at his desk, El Alisal, Los Angeles, California, early 1900s, cyanotype, 4 1/4 in x 6 1/4 in. | Image: Unidentified photographer; courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry Museum of the American West.

Charles Lummis was a passionate activist for civil rights for minority groups. He was particularly active in pushing back against the mistreatment of American Indians, with whom he lived for several years in the Pueblo Indian village of Isleta on the Rio Grande River.

In 1902, Lummis formed an Indian rights group called the “Sequoya League,” after the noted early 19th-century Cherokee leader who developed a written alphabet for their language. The organization was dedicated to protecting Indian rights, opposing the unjust policies of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. Lummis used his personal relationship with President Theodore Roosevelt to force the Bureau to change some of its ways – he helped reverse  policy that led some U.S. government agents to forcibly cut the hair of Indian men.  Eventually, Lummis’ activism became too much for the regressive mores of his time, and he was was barred from the White House.

A devoted appreciator of Native American culture, Lummis used pioneering technology of the time to capture its musical and oral expressions by recording them with wax cylinders. He also advocated preserving “native American industries”. “The beautiful, artistic and valuable handiwork they used to do, which every educated person recognize as art-work of very high rank, would make the Indian people better off than to make them ashamed of all this, and teach them in its stead to play the mandolin, play football, wash dishes, sew overalls, and the like factory industries of factory minds.”

El Alisal

Photograph of El Alisal under construction, circa 1900, gelatin silver print, 6 1/2 in x 8 1/2 in. Handwritten caption on verso: “SOUTHEAST CORNER, ALL TO HAVE TILE ROOF.” | Image: Charles F. Lummis; courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry Museum of the American West.

During his time as an editor of  Land of Sunshine, Lummis built a home “to last 1,000 years” in the Arroyo Seco portion of Los Angeles, a handmade castle of stone he named El Alisal.  The residence became a center of the burgeoning artistic and bohemian community in early Los Angeles, where Lummis entertained countless famous visitors, calling his lavish parties “noises”. 

Following his departure from Land of Sunshine, Lummis took the position of the first head librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library, and served on the committee to open the Southwestern Museum, in operation to this day.

Today, the El Alisal castle and grounds are a lovely, secluded public park – a number of events during the upcoming Lummis Day festival will take place there, so if you haven’t made a visit, this weekend would be a great time. Head over to for the  full schedule of the events – hope to see you there!

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Tonight! NELA Arts at NELA Union


We’re open tonight as part of the NELA Art’s Gallery Night, partnering with our friends Matter of Space on York Blvd. Stop by between 6 and 9 PM to see art by Lily King and Hamish Robertson, and feast on sweet + savory snacks from our local favorites, Lemon Poppy Kitchen. We’ll have a great crowd here tonight, including people who already live in a beautifully-designed, expert-crafted NELA Union home.

No rsvp required. Hope to see you here.

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You’re Invited: NELA Union Hard Hat Tour


An exclusive invitation from Warmington Residential and Tracy Do Real Estate. Join us on Sunday, October 20th between 1-4PM, for a behind the scenes look as NELA Union takes shape. Meet the builders, ask questions, and see up-close the quality and craftsmanship of these beautiful modern homes. RSVP for this event by emailing Hope to see you there!

To receive new listings by email, or to schedule a viewing click here!

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The Solar Decathlon is ON!

WHEN: October 3rd thru 6th & 10th thru 13th, 11am to 7 pm

WHERE: The Great Park, Irvine, CA

COST: $0 – it’s free!


Let the games begin. Over the past few days, an open expanse has been transformed into a village of cool, energy efficient homes. There is genius at work here, to say nothing of collaboration and innovation as teams from all over the world go head-to-head in competition. It’s the Annual Solar Decathlon, and we are proud that it is held right here in SoCal, an hour south of LA in OC’s Great Park.


From their website: “The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.”

“Open to the public free of charge, the Solar Decathlon gives visitors the opportunity to tour the houses, gather ideas to use in their own homes, and learn how energy-saving features can help them save money today.”


So what is there to see? Here’s a rendering of a house called LISI by Team Austria, from the Vienna University of Technology. Tour it in person and see how this stunning home was conceived and built.


One of two local teams in competition hails from USC. “In designing fluxHome, the University of Southern California team focused on developing a truly accessible model for energy-independent, low-cost housing that reflects the best qualities of indoor-outdoor living in Southern California.”

We reported a few months ago on a second local team in the decathlon, comprised of students from SCI-Arc and CalTech. It is truly inspiring to these young minds at work designing homes that will most certainly influence our future landscape here in the LA area.

For more info about this fun, free and very informative event, head to the Solar Decathlon website. This is a great opportunity, we hope to see you there!

To receive new listings by email, or to schedule a viewing click here!

Photos courtesy of Eric Grigorian of the US Dept. of Energy. Renderings by Team Vienna and USC.

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You Are Invited!


Join us for our end-of-summer party and twilight preview of this remarkable house by the design+build firm Reinhabit. It’s an exclusive offering from Tracy Do Real Estate.

We’ll have a taco cart and drinks. Hope to see you!

When: Saturday, August 24th, 5:30 to 8:30 PM

Where: 2980 Waverly Drive in Silver Lake, 90039

Please RSVP by clicking here.

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710 Fwy Expansion Buzz(kill) in NELA & SGV

KPCC reported this morning that the long simmering and oft-debated 710 Freeway expansion proposal is back in the spotlight, with a new set of “options” that include an above-ground route through one of my all-time favorite neighborhoods — the serenely beautiful San Rafael section of Pasadena(!) Needless to say, homeowners are not amused. The idea of extending the 710 has been on the launchpad for what seems like forever, and whether you’re a resident of Pas, South Pas, San Marino, La Canada-Flintridge, Glendale, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Alhambra (phew, did I leave anyone out?) you are likely in the crosshairs of at least one of these above-or-below-ground proposals (see above map).

Obviously the when, where and if of this thing could have significant impact on you and the value of your home. To learn more, head over to tonight’s event at the Pasadena Convention Center, where at 6:30 PM the Pasadena City Council will discuss the 710 expansion proposal and open the floor to what I expect will be a vociferous public.

To receive new listings by email, or to schedule a viewing click here!

Map courtesy of the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans).

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Architecture = Social Change (?)

I’m a huge fan of the Hayden Tract in Culver City and advise anyone who loves innovative, modern architecture to go check it out. Here’s a great way to do it: on Saturday, 8/18 there will be a panel discussion and self-guided walking tour of this massive and inspiring collection of structures that architect Eric Own Moss has been creating over the past 25 years.

From the SAH/SCC website: “We begin with a dialogue with developers Frederick and Laurie Samitaur-Smith, whose visionary belief in the transformative power of architecture, art and design has revitalized a forlorn industrial area, creating a bustling community for creative workers.”

The event is $29 for SAH/SCC members, $55 for non-members and must be purchased in advance. Includes refreshments. More info can be found here.

To receive new listings by email, or to schedule a viewing click here!

Photo of the Hayden Tract / Samitaur Tower courtesy of the Society of Architectural Historians Southern California Chapter website.

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A Night of Art / Design in Chinatown

This will be a fun and free event, tomorrow night (6/30) starting at 6PM. It’s part of the LA Design Festival, and if you haven’t been to Chinatown lately you should check it out. Galleries, design shops, creative work and performances spaces, all around an open plaza with glowing lanterns and a warm, welcoming vibe. For a low-key dinner, try Via Cafe (same owners as Blossom in Silverlake). Here’s info on the event, hope see you there.

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