Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Father of the Los Angeles Harbor

While we were in Long Beach, California, last month we visited an historical site not very far away. We did not use a freeway, just drove down the Pacific Coast Highway.

Vintage postcard of road in Long Beach , turn of the century

In a few minutes we were on a quiet side street bordered by trees with beautiful blossoms. These trees, native to South America, are called “Jacaranda” trees and at that time of year have lovely bright purple flowers.

Click on pictures to enlarge them

We were surprised to see the historical home right in the middle of these quiet roads. There were no other cars parked and we were not sure if the house was opened. It looked like the house was being renovated. Indeed, as we approached we read the panel below.

The gate was opened so we entered

and approached the house.

Since work was being done to the front of the house we walked to the back.

Presently a guide came out and advised us that the next tour to visit the interior of the house would be in 20 minutes – giving us plenty of time to take a look at the rose garden.

Many roses were in bloom and it was difficult to decide which ones to photograph.

The house was built in 1864 by General Phineas Banning(1830-1885) and the area around it was called then Wilmington because Phineas was born in Wilmington, Delaware. When Phineas was 13 years old he left his parents' home with only 50 cents in his pocket and walked 30 miles to begin work in an older brother’s law office. By 21 he decided to go west and immigrated to California. He made his first fortune by operating a freighting business and owning a stage coach with routes going from California to Yuma, Arizona and to Salt Lake City, Utah. During the Civil War he gave land to the Union Army to built a fort close to his home. The National Guard appointed Phineas Banning Brigadier General of the California First Brigade, an honorific title he kept for the rest of his life.

Portrait of Phineas Banning

At the end of the war he served as California State Senator from 1865 to 1868. During his tenure California ratified the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery.) In 1871 Phineas Banning had a 10 foot (3 meters) channel dredged to improve the port of Wilmington which handled 50,000 tons of business that year. By 1885 the Los Angeles Port handled 500,000 tons of business a year. A competitor wanted to create Port Los Angeles in Santa Monica instead and built a long wharf there in 1893. However, with the US Government support (and maybe because of Phineas’ help during the Civil War) the port of Wilmington - San Pedro was chosen (the city of Los Angeles annexed the area in 1909.) General Banning loved his home and doted on his family. He had three surviving sons (out of eight children) with his first wife who died in childbirth.

He later married a wealthy heiress and had 3 more children, two of them surviving, Mary and Lucy.

Portrait of Lucy Tichenor Banning (1873-1929)

When we drove close to Port Los Angeles to arrive at the Banning Residence we could see how large the port has become. It is the busiest container port in the United States. Without Phineas Banning this might not have happened. He even gave his lucrative Los Angeles and San Pedro Railroad to Southern Pacific Railroad to make sure that Los Angeles would not be bypassed in favor of San Bernardino as it had been planned. This is why he deserves the name of Father of the Port of Los Angeles. You can read more on Phineas Banning here.

Port of Los Angeles

We were ready for the 1-hour tour of the house. No pictures inside the house were allowed. The gift shop is also under renovation, so no postcards of the interior were available. There was just a single squirrel in front of the closed gift shop.

The guide told us that the house and 20 acres of parkland were acquired by the City of Los Angeles in 1927. It is now a City, State and National Historic Landmark. There are 23 rooms in this Greek Revival architecture mansion; 18 rooms can be visited. Banning used an office in his home to conduct all his business enterprises. From the top tower he could look at his land, all the way to the harbor.

Early drawing of the Banning residence

The Banning family lived in this house for 60 years and many family heirlooms have been preserved. I scanned some of the pictures from the brochure given to us so I could add them to this post, but they are not very sharp.

The mansion was designed after popular Delaware houses of the 19th century. It has elegant furnishing of the Victorian era.

We walked out onto the porch and the guide told me “you may take a picture.” Thank you. I was closely supervised, just in case I would take a picture facing the interior instead of towards the garden. I just took the porch – looking to the left

then looking to the right

The guide told us that Phineas Banning’s sons bought Catalina Island in the early 1890s, developed it and owned it until World War 1.

Vintage postcard of Santa Catalina Island

Once outside we visited the small school room.

I was intrigued by the “Punishments” plaque on the mantel – it clearly enunciated the number of lashes one would get for being unruly – Giving Each Other ill names – 3 lashes. Quarreling at school – 5 lashes . Drinking Spiritous Liquors at School – 8 lashes. Misbehaving to Girls – 10 lashes, and so on.

Then we visited the stables where pictures were allowed.

There was a little room which had been reserved for the stable boy. It looked as if he had just left.

In the stables, I did not see any horses, just a metal one which must be used at Christmas.

The carriages are housed in the building. There were a number of them.

A small panel gave information on each carriage. This was good as I knew the names of some of the carriages but did not know exactly what they looked like. The carriage on the bottom left is called a Peters Brougham. It took nine months to complete and cost $1200 (circa 1903.)

In the back there was a well equipped tack and tool room. On the wall was a picture of the beach, the way it must have looked at the time the house was built.

There was a tall and beautiful tree just outside the stable. A man was brushing it with some liquid and told us that the little white spots on the tree were insects. There were so many and they flew everywhere close to the tree.

I don’t know what type of insects they were. If you touch them, it was like touching powder.

The tour was finished. We walked by the cast iron cornstalk fence. It was purchased by William S. Banning in the 1900s in New Orleans. There are only two others in existence – both of them in New Orleans.

Going back to our car we admired the tall and very old eucalyptus trees. They were planted to soak up the groundwater as the land was very wet.

This was truly an interesting mansion to visit with so much history. I am not sure how many people realize how much Phineas Banning helped in the development of Los Angeles. He was a visionary with drive and dynamism. I am glad I learnt his story.


The Tour de France

The Tour de France is ending on Sunday 25th July 2010 on the Champs Elysées. Alberto Contador (Spain) should be the winner as he won the time trial on Saturday. Andy Schleck (Luxembourg) is a close second. It has been a great tour and I watched it with enthusiasm.

Photo courtesy Graham Watson

I finished knitting the tricolor baby blanket and had time to crochet a small car seat baby blanket and finished it as the tour ended.

It will be hard to wait for another year – but I’ll keep busy until then.

La Tricoteuse, (the Knitter) Alfred Stevens, Belgian, 1823-1906


Pondside said...

I don't know anything at all about the history of the Los Angeles area. Funny, but I'd never have thought of an historic house in the context of that big city - but it had to have had its start somewhere!
Very interesting post.

""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** Hello Chère Vagabonde ! :o) toutes ces infos, toutes ces photos si intéressantes concernant ce site historique sont précieuses pour nous qui sommes loin.
Merci de nous expliquer tout cela, mine de rien on en apprend beaucoup sur ton blog, je t'en remercie vivement Vagabonde ! GROS BISOUS et bon dimanche ! :o) ***

Fennie said...

A most interesting post - and on two fronts - it would be something, wouldn't it to set up a Tour d'Amerique and Race from New York to Los Angeles over thge Appalchians, the Rockies and the High Sierras.

Never heard of Banning before - or his harbour come to that. As you say an enterprising man. But they all seem to have died young. Was it the wet ground, I wonder, or was it the mysterious white insects?

Linda said...

The blankets are wonderful. I love the red white and blue blanket's combination of stitches.

My grandfather had horseshoes in the barn where I grew up placed just like the ones in the stable here...opening up so that the luck didn't run out.

Our Jacaranda trees bloomed here in Arizona in May. The blossoms paint the ground solid purple. It is a thing of beauty.

What an elegant residence. Thanks for sharing. It was a wonderful read.

Friko said...

It's quite strange but here in the UK we don't think that there are 'Stately Homes' in the US. I really don't know why that should be so. There have been many great men of means who must have lived palatial mansions.

You are always providing the reader with new aspects of American history.

Sorry that the tour has ended, but time flies by so quickly. I am sure you will find many interesting things to do (and blog about) between now and the next one.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Many thanks for the wonderful coverage of Banning. I first saw Jacaranda trees in Buenos Aires in full bloom -- beautiful!

I have just given a "le sigh" for the end of le tour. I think that Andy S. will be ready! Almost a whole year until the next one. Tant pis pour nous.

Vicki Lane said...

What a fascinating tale of early LA! Ans what a beautiful house! I would love to have seen the area back then.

Elaine said...

I very much enjoyed the tour of the Banning house and the history associated with it. It's too bad that they wouldn't allow you to photograph the interior. I have run in to that at a few other places, and even purchasing their books in the gift shop doesn't really help as they seem to focus on things other than what I would shoot. The stables were very interesting with all the carriages and the tack room. The rose garden must have been spectacular. When we were in New Orleans I saw one of the cornstalk cast iron fences. It was a work of art.

I know you must be feeling a little sad that the Tour de France is ending. You made good use of your time though--the baby blankets are gorgeous.

Lonicera said...

I'd give anything to live on a road full of jacarandas like that -they've always been my favourites, and why I try to return to Buenos Aires in the spring if I can. I loved Banning's story, and was struck by what a handsome and extraordinarily modern face he had. I read the punishment poster close up for a while and found them all so fascinating - and they made me laugh too.

Thanks for the lovely comment on my blog.


dot said...

I think I've heard of him before. Love the big old house and the purple flowering trees.

Marguerite said...

Enjoyed the magnificent tour of the Banning house and the interesting history behind it. Beautiful place and gardens. I couldn't believe that Punishment List. lol Loved the baby blankets, too. As always, a fabulous post and photos! Cheers, cher!

Anonymous said...

He died fairly young, if my math is correct, he died at age 55? He accomplished quite a bit in that time!
The two blankets look wonderful. I made one for my granddaughter, then the thread was cut, and I have not repaired it. This post made me realize I need to get it fixed.
Thanks for a wonderful tour!

claude said...

Hellooo !
Je commenterai sur ce post un peu plus tard si tu le veux bien car ce matin je vais être bousculée. Il faut que j'aille chercher mes petits fils à 35 km d'ici et que j'aille faire mes courses.
Je vois que te es une grande défenderesse des coureurs à vélo , et je n'ai rien contre.
Cette année je l'ai suivi que d'un oeil et d'une oreille, il est vrai, et ce qui m'a surprise agréablement, c'est que je n'ai pas entendu parler de dopage ni de vélo à moteur électrique. C'est SUPER !
Ma Mère est une grande "amateuse" de The Tour de France. Elle n'a pas loupé une étape, même quand j'étais chez elle. Elle n'en a pas perdu une miette ; c'est tout juste si elle ne pédale pas avec les coureurs surtout dans les montées des cols.
Je penserai à toi à chaque fois que je verrai une course cycliste et surtout au Tour de l'année prochaine !
Tiens ! Ce matin, il faudrait bien que je me dope un peu, j'ai pratiquement passé une nuit blanche de pleine lune. Je vais mettre le pilote automatique de ma belle auto au cas où je m'endormirais au volant.
J'attends que mon Chéri se lève pour aller prendre un p'tit dèj' pour tenir le coup toute la matinée.
Dis moi, je t'ai envoyé une carte postale de Paris, tu l'as reçue ou pas ? Mon amie Julia l'a recu elle.
A plus tard et bises !

Avo said...

Hahaha! Mais bien sur! C'était la fin du tour... En allant au travail je m'étais demandé pourquoi il y avait tant de policiers et de véhicules bigarrés et de camions garés un peu partout.

Comme d'habitude, tu nous fais partager tes aventures de manière étonnamment ludique! Merci!

Ginnie said...

How many times have I said it before and will surely say it again: you're amazing, Vagabonde! I lived in San Diego and Pasadena a total of 12 years and never heard of Phineas Banning. So THANK YOU for the education, once again.

BTW, did you ever see the movie The Triplets of Belleville? If not, it's a must for you...being French and loving the Tour de France. It's one of the most unusual, delightful movies I've ever seen (and one I own).

Karin B (Looking for Ballast) said...

Oh my goodness!! So many wonderful things in this post. I feel I have been to a history class and have enjoyed what I learned very much. In fact, it was like having a little vacation to visit the US and a historical site as I sit here in an apartment in Paris. Very nice!

Some things that stick in my head after reading:

Phineas Banning was not only industrious, but good-looking. :)

Also, how like the times to lose so many children and a wife in childbirth. To think that only five children out of 11 survived... wow.

I love the little schoolroom and the rules!

I'm sorry you could not take photos of the interior of the home. I'm sure it's for preservation, but still... The scanned images give quite a good view of what is inside though, so thank you for those.

Ahhhh! So nice to sit here with my lemonade and read and see such wonderful photos. Thank you, Vagabonde for all your work here! :)

Jeanie said...

First of all, congratulations on finishing not one but two blankets! You've been busy. (I'm plugging away at my first sock and wish I was making them for a giant so I could use needles larger than 2.)

What a rich and full post -- just seeing the photos from the brochure show how lovely this spot is -- not to mention your photos of the outside. Sounds like something I'd love!

And I really appreciate all the history you include! I always learn something when I'm here.

I'm going to have terrible Tour withdrawal tonight... how 'bout you?!

DJan said...

I was getting ready to go out for the day when I caught up on my blogging friends, and I saw this one and came back to read it and appreciate it to the fullest. I never knew about Banning, and the home, the entire historical feeling of the post was just amazing. My grandmother, aunt and uncle lived in Los Angeles for decades. I never knew anything about its history. Banning was indeed industrious AND good looking. Thanks so much for the tour!

Darlene said...

Again I learned so much from your post. You really do wonderful research. The photos are fabulous and I love the roses; particularly the top an bottom ones on the left.

Jacaranda trees are beautiful, but my son, who lives in the L. A. area tells me that the sticky blossoms can really mess up a car parked beneath them.

A 2 Z said...

Bonjour Mme Vagabonde,

J'aime bien votre nom de plume. Merci de votre visite. J'ai lu votre post et toutes les infos au sujet de LA sont super intéressantes. Je reviendra vous voir sous peu.



OldLady Of The Hills said...

You know more about the History of Los Angeles than I ever will--and I have lived here since 1961...And began visiting here in 1947...!
Phineus Banning was such a Pioneer in every way....AMAZING! And what an Amazing house that is....Thanks for once again opening my eyes to something with so much hiatory, that is right here close by.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh, I forgot to say that you were so very lucky that the Jacaranda trees were blooking--Your pictures are BEAUTIFUL! The Flowers don't last very long, I'm sorry to say. And they are such a Gorgeous tree, especially when blooming.

Reader Wil said...

Merci, Vagabonde, de faire montrer les "Jacaranda trees"( je ne sais pas le nom français), les roses et surtout la belle maison de la famille Banning. C'est tous très intéressant! Merci aussi de votre visite!

Elisa said...

Super post!
I love the dresses and the "jacarandás"
I have a lot of them in the park very close from my house.
Best regards
Elisa, Argentina

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I enjoyed reading about Phineas Banning and seeing his historical home. I always enjoy taking tours of homes such as these, but I don't know why they are so strict about not allowing photography? You did a wonderful job scanning and making collages of the interior form the brochure, thank you for all the effort that must have taken. They made me want to see this home myself if I ever have the opportunity in the future.

I enjoy seeing your vintage postcards very much, as they are window back into time.

The baby blankets look beautiful and I'm sure they will be well used and enjoyed!

Thank you for all your very thoughtful and kind comments on my blog -- I truly appreciate each one!

Shammickite said...

Phineas was quite a handsome devil wasn't he?
I've toured many historical homes, and I love the way you desribe thei one, even though you weren't able to take any photos of the inside. I suppose they think that nobody will buy postcrds if they can take their own photos.
And, did you know that a Canadian, Ryder Hesjedal, came seventh in the Tour de France? We are all so proud if him!

""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** Un petit bonjour et UN GROS BISOU pour toi en ce mercredi matin ! Que cette journée te soit agréable Vagabonde :o)! ***

claude said...

Quel post intéressant sur cette jolie demeure. J'aime beaucoup ce style de maison un peu colonial à colonnes.
Ta couverture drapeau français est TOP ! Je vois que tu es comme ma Mère, une vraie supportrice du Tour.
J'ai laissé un peu même beaucoup laissé le crochet en ce moment. Je m'y remlettrai cet hiver.
Merci de ta réponse. Effectivement je n'ai pas lu ton com dans lequel tu me disais avoir reçu ma carte de Paris.
Maintenant, parès le passage de mes deux garnements, je peux retourner faire du énage dans la salle à manger.
Bonne continuation !
Bises !

Keri said...

GREAT POST> and people think L.A. has no history or culture. I actually grew up along Pacific Coast Hwy (PCH) and I love that drive either north or south, it's beautiful. Then you'll be in NYC in OCtober? You do get around, don't you. Hey, come back to my blog and enter to win the $40.00 gift card for CSN Stores online. Awesome Odds. Thanks, Keri

TorAa said...

I'm really impressed by this post.
History combined with present day experience in a most sophisticated way.
I did learn a lot, and will read this post again and again.

And le TdF - well I've been a fan since 1967 when I had an assignment in Paris....

Best wishes

""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** Hello Vagabonde !!! MERCI BEAUCOUP POUR TON MESSAGE CHEZ MOI ! :o) Plein de BISOUS pour toi en ce jeudi matin ! :o) GROSSES BISES ! :o) ***

Ruth said...

Another excellent summary of a place and person I knew nothing about. Thank you.

I was surprised that anyone ever owned Catalina Island!

The mansion is beautiful, very elegant. But I confess I prefer the stable boy's room for myself.

Ruth said...

Oh, and I love the blankets.

Kay Dennison said...

Beautiful!!! I, like you, usually eschew the freeway for the scenic route.

French-Kissed said...

Thanks for bringing this fascinating home to my attention. I will make a point to visit it the next time I am enroute to the OC. I hope you enjoy your upcoming trip to Norway.


""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** Coucou Chère Vagabonde :o) !!!!! Je viens te souhaiter une bonne journée et je te dis à bientôt sur un nouveau blog un peu moins exotique mais tout aussi amical ! :o) GROS BISOUS !!! ***

Jenn Jilks said...

Lovely tour!

Don said...

Hey, this was a fun tour! Now I'm smarter than I was 10 minutes ago!
I think I will visit this place next time I'm in the area.

Vagabonde said...

Ginnie – Did I see the Triplets of Belleville? As they say here – do the bears sleep in the woods? Of course I saw it and have the DVD and the CD of the music – I am a Tour de France fan! I am pleased you enjoyed the post and learned a bit about Los Angeles. Thanks for commenting I appreciate it.

Vagabonde said...

Anne-Marie – bienvenue sur mon blog. Je suis contente que vous êtes venue voir mon post. Merci.

Vagabonde said...

DJan, Lady from the Hills, Ruth - It was a pleasure to visit the Banning Residence and I am happy that you found it interesting. Thanks for dropping by.

Vagabonde said...

Nancy, Claude, Alesa Warcan, Reader Will, - Merci beaucoup pour vos gentils commentaires. Je suis contente que vous venez me rendre visite régulièrement et j’apprécie vos paroles.

Vagabonde said...

Pondside, Fenny, Linda, Friko, Genie, Vicki Lane, Elaine, Lonicera, Marguerite, alwaysinthebackrow, Karin, Jeanie, Darlene, Elisa, Pat@Mille Fiori, Shammickite, Keri, TorAa, Kay Dennison, French-Kissed, Jen Jilkes and Don – how lovely to read your comments. I enjoy writing the posts and it gives me a lot of pleasure when I see you comments. Thanks again dear friends for taking the time to write a comment.

bowsprite said...

happy anniversary!
thank you for a rich, enlightening post (again!) OH I LOVE the Cody ad! I remember it so well from my childhood. And very fascinating how the port began! beautiful flora and trees. I also love the blankets. What a wondrous weaving, this post! and your blog!

Louis la Vache said...

hee hee...
If «Louis» were a golfer, he would give the game up after learning that Trump has a golf course named after him....

The vintage card of the lavender gathering is quite fine.

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