“The Proposed Village of Havilah, of Which El Reposo is the Seed”: Photos of El Reposo Sanatorium, Sierra Madre, ca. 1910, Part One

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

As has been frequently noted on this blog, there was a major movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries towards promoting parts of greater Los Angeles as a “health-seekers paradise,” in which the climate, ocean breezes, clean air and open spaces of the region were touted as ideal for those persons seeking respite and cures for their maladies.

Among these was tuberculosis, which in the 1880s caused the deaths of one of every seven persons in the United States and Europe—one of these was Francis W. Temple, owner of the Homestead, who succumbed to the disease in early August 1888, while his father’s sister, Cynthia Temple, died of TB three decades before. A half-dozen years prior, Dr. Robert Koch found the bacteria which caused the ailment, the name of which was coined in the 1830s, and the race for treatment that would significantly mitigate, if not eliminate, the disease began.

In 1943, Selman Waksman, who later won a Nobel Prize for the discovery, along with Elizabeth Bugie and Albert Schatz, developed streptomycin. which was revolutionary in reducing the incidence of tuberculosis. For about 70 years before that, however, the main way of dealing with the disease was through housing patients in sanatoriums, the first of which opened in Asheville, North Carolina in 1875.

By 1904, there were 115 such facilities treating 8,000 patients in the United States and, about a half-century later, those numbers to 839 and 136,000 respectively—for more history, see this CDC page. With improvements in transportation, specifically a direct transcontinental railroad line to Los Angeles, along with the selection of locations, including in the foothills of the Sierra Madre (San Gabriel) Mountains, several sanatoriums opened to treat TB patients.

Perhaps the best-known, however, and which is still operating today, is what is now called the Barlow Respiratory Hospital, situated at the base of the Elysian Hills near today’s Dodger Stadium, and which opened in 1902. A previous post here focused on a 1904 periodical for a fund-raiser for the facility, while another concerned the Los Angeles Sanitarium, opened at about that time in downtown by figures with ties to Battle Creek, Michigan and the health movement there including the Kellogg cereal empire and the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

The Homestead’s later history also has a long connection to sanitariums, as Harry J. and Lois Brown, who opened a sanitarium in Monrovia, along that belt of foothill cities along the San Gabriels, moved their facility, called El Encanto, to the 92-acre ranch in 1940. For almost a quarter century the Browns utilized the Workman House, La Casa Nueva and other buildings on the site for the facility before building a new one immediately north of the historic houses and then gradually selling the latter, along with El Campo Santo Cemetery and other elements, to the City of Industry, which then established the Homestead Museum.

Washington Post, 2 October 1900.

Using a Spanish name for a sanatorium that evoked quiet, peace and rest was also employed at the facility that is the focus of this post: El Reposo, situated in Sierra Madre from 1909-1914. The Homestead’s collection has several photos of the sanatorium and these are supplemented by newspaper articles about the facility, as well as other information concerning one of its key founders, Haviland Lund.

She was born on Christmas Day 1871 in Adrian, Michigan, southwest of Detroit, to real estate and insurance agent Myron Haines and Christian Science practitioner Phoebe Haviland, who had a second daughter, Marion, a long-time educator in the nascent kindergarten movement. Haviland showed an early disposition towards a different path for a woman and, by the mid-1890s, was in Chicago, where she was the head of the woman’s department for the Aetna Insurance Company.

Chicago Inter-Ocean, 3 February 1903.

In 1897, she married Adolph Lund and the couple had a daughter Phoebe Marian the next year, but it appears the marriage quickly fell apart, as he was shown in the 1900 census as a widower. Yet, that same year, Chicago newspapers reported that Haviland was promoting an electric omnibus line for the Windy City that was to be completely owned and operated by women, who were also to drive the vehicles. It appears that the scheme quickly collapsed and, in 1903, the Lunds, along with his sister Thora and others, were subject to a mortgage foreclosure. In a 1924 passport application request, Haviland claimed that Adolph died in 1905, but he actually passed away eight years later.

In 1905, Haviland, along with her daughter, resided with her parents and sister in Fairmont, Minnesota, southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul and near the Iowa border. Two years later, at the end of September 1907, however, Haviland and her daughter, arriving from Chicago, checked in at the Hollenbeck Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Yet, six months prior, as the Los Angeles Times reported, there were some mining men from Beatty, Nevada, near Death Valley, in town at the Alexandria Hotel and who were besieged by auto dealers and theater people smelling money on the gents.

Haviland Haines Lund, residing with her daughter, parents and sister in Fairmont, Martin County when the 1905 Minnesota state census was taken.

Then, the paper stated, the pair were approached by “a gentle-faced young woman, with large eyes and stagey manner” who “said she could tell where hidden ore veins exist.” It was added that “the sweet young thing gave the name of Mrs. H.H. Lund, and produced her telephone number. All she wanted was to be taken to Beatty and given a chance to tell the trusting gentlemen from Nevada where the ore ledges really were. The seeress [sic] was told to experiment in Los Angeles, and if she found a good healthy ore vein they would talk business with her.”

Assuming that this the same Mrs. Haviland Haines Lund, there was another bizarre story that involved her about a year later. A prior post here talked about Dr. Orloff N. Orlow, who claimed to be wealthy Russian art dealer when he showed up in Los Angeles and then proceeded to make an offer on a large ranch in modern San Dimas where the Puddingstone Reservoir is today. It was added that Orlow was in Chicago in the late 1890s claiming to be a clairvoyant and healer before settling in San Francisco and setting up a philosophical brotherhood and the “International Society of Human Endeavor, after which, following legal troubles, he migrated south to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Times, 23 March 1907.

What was not mentioned in that post was that Orlow and Haviland Lund became connected in a plan to open a sanitarium at a house the former acquired at Grand Avenue and Washington Boulevard (then 19th Street). The Los Angeles Herald of 1 October 1908 reported that “Orlow and Mrs. H.H. Lund operated the place on a partnership basis, the woman having charge of the place and superintending the details and Orlow using his influence in securing patients for the establishment.”

The account continued that, “Mrs. Lund took charge of the place last January and by hard work succeeded in securing a good business” and that “all went well until Orlow became ill and became involved in financial reverses.” He was then arrested on an embezzlement charge (this was subsequently dropped), but it was also stated that “Mrs. Lund helped him all through his troubles and exerted her every effort in taking care of him during his illness and in securing bondsmen for him when he was arrested.”

Lund and her daughter listed as checking into the Hollenbeck Hotel, Times, 30 September 1907.

Some unknown issue arose between the two “and Orlow ordered Mrs. Lund to vacate the premises.” While they battled over this, “creditors of the proprietors of the sanitarium learned that things were not as they should be, and pressing demands were made for money.” Lund told the paper that Orlow’s behavior led to the fact that “the business of the establishment had dwindled until two weeks ago, when the last patient left the place.” Without money to pay merchants who were owed funds and it appearing that Orlow would go bankrupt, he sought to evict her, locking two of the three doors, leaving Lund and a nurse access to a back door.

The Herald went on to observe that “Mrs. Lund was almost hysterical from the ordeal of the day, and when she was talking to a reporter last night sobbed frequently,” stating,

I met Dr. Orlow in Chicago ten years ago. He was teaching philosophy and passed as a Russian nobleman who had forsaken his family and large estate to preach the gospel of righteousness and aid and uplift humanity. I never saw him since that time until last November, when I met him on the streets of Los Angeles. I then was conducting a sanitarium of my own, and her persuaded me to give it up and take charge of this place on Grand avenue.

I began in January and have worked hard up to now; I have taken care of him when he was sick and assisted him when he was in need of bondsmen during his recent trouble.

Orlow then gave his story to the Herald saying that he met Lund the prior November after knowing her in Chicago, but that he provided her funding and the use of his bungalow on Grand and 19th “on the understanding that she was to conduct the place as a sanitarium and make it pay a dividend on the investment.” This, he claimed, she failed to do, though he allowed that, while sick, he gave her a bill of sale for the property, but insisted that she told him it was in his best interests to do so.

Los Angeles Herald, 1 October 1908. The paper reversed the name of the doctor, with his surname being Orlow.

He added that, when Lund failed to form a joint stock company for the sanitarium, he requested the bill back, but she not only did not return it, but purportedly had the document recorded as a deed. Orlow concluded by telling the paper that “there will be some interesting disclosures when the case is brought into court,” but, meanwhile, he was determined to keep the property.

At the end of October, Orlow was hauled into the bankruptcy commissioner’s office for a hearing and the Times stated that, “though skilled as a mahatma and in the mystic arts of the Far East,” he “almost fainted under the vulgar ordeal of accounting for his debts.” Reported to have sat “as dignified and austere as a reincarnation of Buddha,” Orlow gasped for water and fell into an armchair before regaining his dignity.

Herald, 2 October 1908.

Yet, when he was asked to produce financial records, he came up with books that were mostly records of social engagements. Orlow then proudly pointed to an instance of having received a check, but, when asked how much it was for, he said he did not know. After references to “the women who are said to have devoted their fortunes to Dr. Orlow’s mystic cult,” he did admit that he owed one Los Angeles woman, Katherine M. Rice some $12,000, while he had $28,000 in other debt to local people.

When asked if owned money to Lund, however, Orlow retorted, “not a cent,” which was followed by the query of whether she had a note of $2,000 from him. The response was, “she made me sign several papers during my illness. Maybe one of them was such a note, but I don’t think so.” The matter was then left aside, but Orlow took the opportunity to proclaim that “he is the victim of one of the most infuriated conspiracies ever hatched” and that “later, he will give the details to the world.”

Times, 27 October 1908.

This, of course, did not happen, but it was determined that Orlow had enough assets so that bankruptcy was not required, though he evidently kept himself free of paying his creditors, presumably including Lund. Orlow then decamped to Seattle where he opened an art gallery and then ended up in New York, where he died in 1924 and his tall tales of being from European royalty discussed as elaborate if ridiculous hoaxes.

As for Lund, she bounced back rather quickly and, within about six months of the Orlow debacle, she joined forces with others to found the El Reposo Sanatorium. Check back for part two of the post tomorrow.

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