Old Salt Lake | Virtual Museum
This is a report on what happened to the 1917 Frank Palmer Collection and the attempts
to try and salvage this last known collection of Dr. F. M. Palmer, pioneer local
collector of prehistoric objects and dentist.
In 1917, Dr. F. M. Palmer gave a collection of prehistoric artifacts to the Redondo Union High School. Historical documentation indicates these artifacts were collected locally from the Redondo Beach waterfront area - mostly from Malaga Cove (CA-LAN-138).
The collection of artifacts Dr. Palmer gave the high school remained on display at the high school for several decades. In 1977, the collection was moved from the high school to the city for storage. The artifacts were again put on display in 1983 at the first Redondo Beach Historical Museum and then moved in 1995 to another city museum location. In late 2008, the artifacts were nearly lost. During an extended period (months) of reconstruction of the museum building, the Palmer Collection was put in a wheelbarrow outside exposed to the elements in the back of the building, unfenced. Hastily put back into a case to meet the museum reopening date in 2009, the artifacts were left unlabeled, damaged, with pieces missing.
The collection dissolved. On June 5, 2012, a City of Redondo Beach Historical Commission work-party turned the Palmer Collection into a mishmash with various other collections of Indian artifacts, including objects identified as not authentic. Thus ending the educational coherence of the collection Dr. F. M. Palmer gave to the Redondo Union High School in 1917. The purpose of his gift was to provide, in his words, "pre-historic evidence of the lives and customs of the ancient people who first inhabited the land in which our own homes now are located".
For the first time, a detailed account is offered about the collection and it's context. Old historical and archaeological records were obtained and analyzed. The record of Dr. Palmer and the other people who dealt with and wrote about the artifacts has been researched. The result presented here in brief, shows the 1917 Frank Palmer Collection as a remarkable instance of cultural and historical patterns involving human complexity and ecological / historical footprint.
Research begins in late 2010 when the display case of prehistoric artifacts at the
Redondo Beach Historical Museum was first noticed and questions were asked about
it. The information provided didn't make sense. It was explained as a person's
collection of artifacts (not Palmers) and this other person had obtained the artifacts
in the 1960's from a location that didn't seem exactly right. No documentation
about the collection was provided.
A project to research the situation was initiated. The UCLA archaeology department was contacted and they were kind enough to arrange to have one of their PHD candidate students (Cindi Alvitre) meet at the museum to check out the significance of the collection and initially show how to catalog it. Cindi enjoyed the visit and liked the local character of the collection, was quite impressed with a number of the artifacts and said the collection really needs to be cataloged.
Shortly after Cindi's visit, evidence was found that the artifacts in the museum was a Dr. Palmer collection. Old knowledge about the artifacts was buried in the Redondo Beach Historical Museum archives. This archive, by the way, the knowledge in it is at risk of loss. In the back of an old unlabeled file cabinet was found work about the prehistoric artifacts collection done decades ago by a great local history researcher named Gloria Snyder (deceased). Among Gloria Snyder's prolific research documentation, was a copy of a 1917 Redondo Reflex article and a copy of a 1974 Daily Breeze photo. The 1917 newspaper article was about Dr. Palmer's gift of prehistoric artifacts to the high school. The article included a listing of some the artifacts - specifically citing a unique knife complete with a wood handle. The 1974 photo was of a display case of the artifacts at the high school with the caption mentioning the artifacts are from Dr. Palmer. The photo shows several of the same artifacts now in the Redondo Beach Historical Museum. The last known collection of Dr. F. M. Palmer is in the Redondo Beach Historical Museum and it had been put outside in a wheelbarrow in the back of the building for months where anybody could have taken it and was being identified as someone else's collection.
Then there were months of making recommendations to the city officials that this collection needs to be properly cataloged (it's an emergency) and indentified with an information card at least acknowledging it's the 1917 Frank Palmer Collection. No action was taken on repeated recommendations. The experience with the Historical Commission was weird. They would add email messages sent and some of the documents found to the city Historical Commission meeting agenda. Public comment several times that was made about this is the Palmer Collection given to the high school in 1917 and it needs to be cataloged and photo'd, etc.. The immediate response by the city official in charge of these meetings was strange ... saying that the city museum was not an archaeological museum. The commissioners would be nice and say thanks, but nothing would result. These meeting were every other month. Each meeting expecting some sort of action being taken on the recommendations from the previous meeting, but nothing. The commissioners clearly incapable of doing their duty to scrutinize the status of the prehistoric artifacts in the museum.
Eventually the simple realization of the situation required was to catalog the artifacts as an independent project. However, knowledge of how to describe the objects was still lacking. Fortunately Ivan Snyder (nephew of Gloria Snyder) arrived at the museum at that time. He was viewing the artifacts and was describing what some of the objects were. Pointing out this is the 1917 Frank Palmer Collection - the one previously at his high school and it really needs to be cataloged right now. So, a private initiative for an emergency catalog of the collection was started and also to find any previous catalog, inventory or provenance records of the collection. In late 2011, city officials were provided with a public report and a copy of the latest version of the catalog work. The work is still incomplete as there are more boxes of prehistoric artifacts and documents in the museum we still need to catalog, but have not been provided ready access to for complete study.
In the meantime, public records requests were submitted for:
A copy of the 1977 inventory is not to be found in the museum. Of course the high
school and school district was contacted and search for documentation was completed.
Turns out the high school and school district have exactly no record indicating
ever having the Palmer 1917 Collection. Related to this query, a former city official,
Pat Dreizler was briefly interviewed. She was at the July 1977 meeting of the Historical
Commission which discussed the transfer of the Palmer Collection from the high school
to the city. Dreizler was also the city official in charge of the historical museum
in 1983 and she was chairperson of the Historical Commission at the time of the
"wheel-barrow" incident in 2008. during the interview, Dreizler stated
that in 1977 it was Red Allison, the chair of the Historical Commission at that
time, who was the person who made the arrangements with a teacher at the high school
to move the collection of prehistoric artifacts to the city. Dreizler specifically
mentioned this was done without the knowledge of the school, because she said, she
was there. Of course, Dreizler was asked about the 1977 inventory - does she know
where it is? She said yes, the inventory is at her home. She later clarified the
inventory she has at her home was the inventory Red Allison did in 1984 when the
City Historical Museum first opened. In any case, attempts to follow-up with Dreizler
about obtaining a copy of city museum inventory from 1977 or 1984, which presumably
would shed more light on the exact number and description of artifacts transferred
from the high school to the city in 1977, has been met, curiously, with tremendous
resistance from current city officials in charge of the city museum. Many questions
remain, including why would the high school transfer the Palmer Collection in 1977
to the city, just to put it in storage for 6 years? - the city museum didn't
open til 1983.
There is no known study of the 1917 Frank Palmer Collection by anyone for the 95 years since it was given to the high school. Not even one high school student essay about it exists - except in the 1927 high school yearbook there is a brief four paragraph interview with Dr. Palmer's daughter Marion who mentions the work of her father and the collection and its context. Presumably at least a few of the thousands of students over the decades who walked by the display cases on the second floor of the science building must have taken a photo and written about the artifacts.
The 1917 collection has been under the radar of scholarly study, including by Dr. William J. Wallace, who was a resident of Redondo Beach and a legend in Southern California prehistory and must have seen the artifacts on display at the city museum or at the high school. Also R. F. Van Valkenburgh, of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, likely saw the collection at the high school. In 1931 Van Valkenburgh wrote, "One specimen, complete, is in the Redondo Union High School Collection" (R.2). He was referring to the "One stone knife is still cemented to the wooden handle by a bit of asphaltum" mentioned in the 1917 newspaper article about Dr. Palmer's gift to the high school.
This stone knife and wooden handle were two separate objects in the display case when I began my study of the collection. It was Ivan Snyder who suggested they are the "one specimen, complete" and he correctly restored the famous artifact. It has to be noted, we found the wooden handle significantly damaged, with large recent gashes in the wood on one side. The fresh gashes are clearly evidence of the blow to the knife that broke the stone blade from the wood handle. We conclude this blow occurred during the 2008 "wheelbarrow" incident. There is a photo, taken around 2005, of the ancient knife still complete with the wood handle as it had been for a long time.
Below is a photo taken in 2011 of the tip of the knife. Also found at the time the knife was restored, were four small pieces of the wood handle which fit perfectly into the broken spaces of the handle. These pieces were placed next to the restored knife. Attempts to place the restored knife and the four salvaged pieces of the wooden handle into a protective case by an archaeologist expert in southern California coastal archeology were refused by Pam Ament, the city official supervising the museum during the archaeologist's visit. Those four pieces of the wood handle are missing since Pam Ament (the city employee supervising the 6/5/2012 Historical Commission work-party) mishmashed the collection and placed the restored knife into a protective case herself. Moreover, there are other prehistoric artifacts not accounted for since the mishmash episode. Attempts to clarify the situation have resulted in push-back by city officials in charge of the museum. Push-back to seeking clarity about the status of the Palmer Collection includes repeated nihillistic statements from the city officials in charge of the museum such as "it's not a museum of archaeology".
There is considerable documentary evidence of Dr. Palmer's career in the form of old newspaper articles, photos, histories, lectures, interviews, papers and articles written by Dr. Palmer. With these documents, we can hypothesize (surmise) a good deal of interesting information about the 1917 collection, as well as, the early archaeology of the waterfront area from Malaga Cove to the Old Salt Lake.
Dr. Palmer had a personal interest in the southwestern coast of the Santa Monica Bay. Palmer was one of the first to collect prehistoric artifacts from Malaga Cove to the Old Salt Lake. He and his family camped at the lake as early as the late 1870's. Palmer moved his family to Redondo Beach in 1906. Palmer's avocation was dentistry which he practiced in Los Angeles for over two decades before moving to Redondo. He was not a professional archaeologist.
In May 1903, in Redondo Beach an Indian gravesite was found. The site, now officially called Palmer-Redondo (CA-LAN-127), was located near the intersection of Catalina Avenue and Topaz Street. During the 10 day excavation in 1903, the owner of the nearby Redondo Hotel (John S. Woollacott) and the owner of a local curio shop (Andrew. K. Rutter) were on-site and they obtained most of the artifacts. Woollacott placed the artifacts he obtained in a cabinet in the lobby of the Redondo Hotel (R.3). A few months later, Palmer himself excavated the site and obtained artifacts.
Later in 1903, when the Southwest Society was formed, Dr. Palmer, who had a pre-existing relationship with the society's founder Charles Lummis who was negotiating with Palmer to obtain Palmer's first collection of prehistoric artifacts from the area that was at the time on display at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Palmer arranged to have the artifacts he recently collected and the artifacts Rutter collected from Palmer-Redondo to be obtained by the Southwest Society - which they were. However, both Palmer and Rutter likely retained a few artifacts from Palmer-Redondo for their own personal collections.
We know Woolacott, Rutter and Palmer each possessed separate personal collections of local prehistoric artifacts from the 1903 excavation. Though speculation, it's a nice story to say these separate collections were eventually recombined as the Palmer 1917 collection. How this could have happened? First, it's possible A. K. Rutter purchased the artifacts Woollacott had in the cabinet in the lobby of the Redondo Hotel. Moreover, it's possible Rutter combines those artifacts with those from Palmer-Redondo he did not provide the Southwest Society into the collection of the artifacts Rutter had on display in his curio shop on Pacific Avenue in Redondo Beach.
Then, in 1906, when Dr. Palmer moves to Redondo Beach and since he knows Rutter and lived just a few blocks from Rutter's curio shop with its collection of prehistoric artifacts from the 1903 excavation, it's possible Palmer could have purchased Rutter's curio shop collection when Rutter closed his shop. Rutter's collection, combined with the other objects Palmer had held on to from his previous collecting periods in the area, could have been the composition of the artifacts Dr. Palmer gave to the high school in 1917. Just a possible scenario and sort of a nice narrative.
The reason Dr. Palmer gave his collection to the high school was to provide, in his words, "evidence of the lives and customs of the ancient people who first inhabited the land in which our own homes now are located". A complete expression of value as local and amateur. The non-professional/avocation value reinforced by the fact the high school site was itself formerly a Chautauqua assembly which promoted adult education and self-improvement.
Dr. Palmer could imagine the gift to the high school was going to be secure for a long time with his daughter Marion keeping an eye on them. Marion had married into one of the founding families in Redondo Beach, her husband was the City Attorney. Marion kept an eye on the artifacts. In 1965 Marion even became one of the founding members of the Redondo Beach Historical Commission. In 1977, the year of Marion's death, when the artifacts were transferred from the high school to the city for storage.
The local/amateur idea still was basically working out. In 1983, the artifacts were again put on display at a new local city museum at a site even closer to the ground they were found. The local museum even had the likes of Dr. Wallace himself around, as he was a resident of Redondo Beach and even though there is no document showing he commented on the Palmer 1917 Collection itself, there is documentation that he was consulted about a new collection of artifacts given to the museum in the 1990's. Dr. Wallace advises the museum not to use this new collection of artifacts because they are not authentic.
More complexity occurs. A new museum site is created and the artifacts are moved there in 1995. Ironically, this new museum site was previously the old Redondo Beach city dump yard. Memory of the significance of the Palmer 1917 Collection and of Dr. Palmer fades as new local amateurs and city officials come and go. The prehistoric artifacts become a problem they are not interested in dealing with. The museum building settles into the land fill and cracks. During reconstruction of the building in late 2008, the 1917 Frank Palmer Collection is nearly lost.
During the Historical Commission meeting on June 27, 2012 (photo below), John LaRock (right) effectively silences any discussion about the Palmer Collection - which Pam Ament (second from the right) compromised just weeks earlier. Pam had told Ivan and I that they (staff) would put restoring the Palmer Collection on the Historical Commission agenda for this meeting.
Instead, I have to sit there, the only person attending, and listen to John LaRock say the following:
Suzanne: ..... [ asking something about why Galen and Ivan were not allowed to help with the artifacts I think ]
[ My first thought was wondering why these people aren't talking about the Palmer Collection ]
"We have received from members of the public, noncontributory accusations containing accusations and assumption about the museum, the handling of artifacts, which are contrary to what we are trying to achieve, in terms of creating a positive public facility experience. So, we have issues that are being dealt with administratively that are part of that activity, so I won't go further than that on your point about this. But at this point we are trying to maintain a positive working environment that's not harassing to a staff member or a member of the public or a member of the commission. So we're dealing with that administratively when we come to a resolution to that then we can bring it forward in a more specific way."
Cindi: ...[ says something like she does not understanding why Galen and Ivan were not allowed to help with the artifacts ]
[ Again, I was wondering why they aren't talking about the Palmer Collection ]
"Your heart is in the right place. There are just some extenuating circumstances which you have no control and are not at your door step. So, we're dealing with those administratively with the city staff and upon resolution we communicate as of prompt as we can as we need to."
So, I ask John after the meeting adjourned, of course, I want to follow-up about what he said. LaRock said: "Talk to my boss".
So, I meet with Joe Hoefgen (John LaRock's boss) ... [ details about this when I have a chance to key it up. ]
I notify the City Manager ... [ details about this when I have a chance to key it up. ]
I present to the school district ... [ details about this when I have a chance to key it up. ]
I talk to reporters .. who write the following articles. [ add links here ]
So, I wait for the Historical Commission and city staff to do something.
In the meantime, the Clerk's office was decent enough - not - to include LaRock's public comments about me - in the official meeting minutes of the Historical Commission meeting on June 27, 2012. The minutes just say:
I'm thinking it's better to publically publish exactly what John LaRock said, which is what I'm doing now, of course. Each point LaRock accuses me of needs to be publically investigated - which will mean what happened and is still happening to the Palmer Collection will need to be investigated in more detail. Obviously, I'm more than willing to explain the basic due diligence research I did researching the status of the gift Dr. Palmer gave the high school in 1917, including who I talked to and what they said. So this basic research I was doing trying to salvage the Palmer Collection, LaRock in June 2012 accuses me in public of harassing three classes of people and being "noncontributory", etc.
Then, I see a LaRock "Administrative Report" on the agenda for the 12/19/2012 Historical Commission meeting.
Here are the minutes for that report. Note LaRock said, he would "bring back at the February meeting drafts of these items".
So, in June 2012, I'm harassing people and being noncontributory - now I'm "contributing research" - and get this ... to the "improvements" staff has made to the artifacts. My research uncovered the fact that the Palmer 1917 Collection has been compromised by city staff, damaged by city staff, and there are pieces missing - by city staff. Notice LaRock doesn't even use the words "Palmer Collection" in his report. The LaRock's rhetorical frame that there's been "improvements" is factually incorrect and delusional. The effect of the Historical Commission and its staff on the prehistoric cultural material in the museum - the artifacts - has been negative - always decreasing the value of the artifacts.
My contribution is increasing the value of the artifacts by properly researching and documenting them. City staff has fought against this definition of contribute. The thing is, all staff had to do is not be stupid and the city would have a very valuable collection once again. Instead, at each step Ivan and I tried to salvage and restore the Palmer 1917 Collection, by bringing in experts, staff would double-down on stupid and try to prevent us from increasing value and actually further do damage to the collection.
So, I ask Ivan and Dr. Koerper for their take on this 12/19/2012 LaRock's report.
Ivan said, let's wait and see if LaRock and the Historical Commission members actually act to make real improvements by the next meeting in February. That's two months, plenty of time for them to, well, really all they have to do is call Dr. Koerper.
OK, here's what Dr. Koerper said about the 12/19/2012 LaRocks report:
"Research means careful scrutiny - that means at the least measuring, weighing, photographing, lithic identification, etc. - well beyond what we did. Artifacts not from the Palmer 1917 collection got into the mix, and they must be separated out."
Dr. Koerper was responding to the line in LaRock's report that said: "Contributing research on the artifacts leading to this report was provided by Dr. Henry C. Koerper, Galen Hunter and Ivan Snyder."
So, Dr. Koerper calls LaRock three times and LaRock will not return his calls.
Keep in mind, Dr. Koerper is the leading expert on Southern California coastal archaeology, who is offering his services - pro-bono - because the Palmer 1917 Collection is that scientifically interesting. Also, keep in mind, that when Dr. Koerper expressed an interest to examine the artifacts, city staff cancelled the first meeting we arranged with an Historical Commission member to be there when Dr. Koerper was to visit during regular hours ... [ more details about this when I have a chance to key it up. ]
So, the February Historical Commission meeting agenda is published by the Clerk's office and contrary to what LaRock promised and his boss promised, there is nothing on the February agenda about "additional improvement" to the Palmer Collection.
The Palmer 1917 Collection, what happened to it and even the memory of it - becomes footprinted by city staff.
OK, here's my recommendation: The Palmer 1917 Collection is to be salvaged and isolated by Dr. Koerper and then removed from the City of Redondo Beach because of negligence to a proper institution. Fortunately, Point Vicente Interpretive Center (PVIC) is a proper institution and would appreciate the collection and importantly still basically be within the construct of Dr. Palmer's original gift intention of keeping it local.
The only next step as far as I'm concerned is for the owner of the collection to ask Dr. Koerper to please do come in and separate out the remains of the original collection from the mix up the city staff did and oversee the transfer to a proper institution.
_____ 1903 _____
An Indian burial ground is found while grading Catalina Avenue in Redondo Beach (Catalina Avenue and Topaz Street). Dr. Palmer collects many of the objects. The site becomes an official archaeological site named after Dr. F. M. Palmer, "Palmer-Redondo". The site designation is CA-LAN-127. [ However, the artifacts Palmer gave to the high school were mostly obtained from his 5th excavation of the Malaga Cove site (CA-LAN-138) ].
_____ 1911 _____
At the Redondo Pioneer Picnic in May 1911, Dr. Palmer "advanced the suggestion that a permanent organization of the pioneers be made and that this organization establish a museum for the valuable Indian relics and curios found in the vicinity of Redondo Beach. He stated there were several private collections that were as fine as any found in large museums, including his own collection, which he offered to such an organization as he suggested."
Source: Redondo Reflex, May 4, 1911
[ Transcribed (partial)]
"High School Gets Valuable Gifts - Local Institution Is Added To By Local People with Valuable Collections
Through the public spirit of Dr. F. M. Palmer, the Redondo Union High School now possesses one of the finest collections of Indian relics in southern California. The Palmer collection consists of rare tablets of Indian hieroglyphics, tools, implements, spear heads, knives, arrowheads, beads, bowls, mortars, pipes, axes, carved dogs, whales, fish hooks and hundred of other relics too numerous to mention. One stone knife is still cemented to the wooden handle by a bit of asphaltum. It is in the *[ same condition as when it was care- ] fully laid aside by an Indian housewife. Only one other similar specimen is known to exist and that is in the Smithsonian Institute of Washington, D. C.
The real significance of the gift to the high school lies in the fact that the entire collection with one or two exceptions has been found within the city limits of Redondo Beach. It is difficult to place money value upon such a collection. Those who have attempted to do so have named a sum requiring four figures to express.
Suitable cases are being constructed to properly display the collection which will be located in the corridor on the second floor of the Science Building.
Lectures by Dr. Palmer upon the Indians of this section soon will be in order."
[ End transcript ]
Source: Redondo Reflex, February 3, 1917
* see write-up on the missing line of text here.
[ Dr. Palmer then in 1917 gives a lecture at high school a couple months later ]
Lecture By Dr. F. M. Palmer, at Redondo Union High School, Source: Braun Research Library
Note: Fully transcribed from the first page of Dr. Palmer's hand-written and typed announcement for this lecture. Originals at the Southwest Museum. Letter case same as original typed announcement.
[ Begin transcript ]
REDONDO UNION HIGH SCHOOL.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL EIGHTEENTH,1917 at 7:30 p.m.
LECTURE BY DR. F. M. Palmer
SUBJECT: ' THE FIRST SOUTHERN CALIFORNIANS '.
At the suggestion of the REDONDO BEACH WOMAN'S CLUB, the HIGH SCHOOL BOARD OF TRUSTEES have invited DR. PALMER to lend his assistance in the calling the attention of the people of this community to its recent installation of a collection illustrating the ARCHAEOLOGY OF REDONDO BEACH.
It is known to many of our citizens and to the scholarly men and women of the State and Nation that, for nearly forty years, Dr. Palmer has made an exhaustive research and exploration of the pre-historic evidence of the lives and customs of the ancient people who first inhabited the land in which our own homes now are located.
THE LECTURE WILL BE FULLY ILLUSTRATED.
NO CHARGE FOR ADMISSION !!
[ End transcript ]
_____ 1925 _____
"Secretary of Chamber of Commerce Compiles Data And History of Redondo"
Written by: "E. A. Bradbury, Secretary, Chamber of Commerce" (paragraph number 11 (transcribed)
"While all of this sounds like ancient history and dates back as far as we are able to trace recorded data, there is more ancient history connected with this section that will forever remain a mystery. Reposing in the Redondo Union High school there is a collection of old relics of a by-gone age and whose history, if known, alone could reveal the identity of the first inhabitants of Redondo Beach."
Source: Daily Breeze, Tuesday May 19, 1925
_____ 1927 _____
"Information Gained From Mrs. Frank Perry", interviewed by Beatrice Catey in 1927 The Pilot (Redondo Union High School yearbook). Mrs. Perry (Marion Palmer) was the daughter of Dr. Palmer., Source: Redondo Beach Main Public Library
[ Transcribed ]
"INFORMATION GAINED FROM MRS. FRANK PERRY
By Beatrice Catey
It is thought that the Indian burying ground and villages in Redondo extended from the corner of Sapphire and Catalina to the southern boundary of the Palos Verdes Estates, for it is there all of the graves have been found. The burying ground was the first investigated to any extent scientifically, by Dr. Palmer, when the Pacific Electric was broadening Catalina and building the present car tracks. From this burying ground Dr. Palmer took seventeen collections, one of which is in our high school, another in the Southwest Museum, and still another in the Smithsonian Institute. Most of these he found after severe windstorms, which the sand had been blown from the graves.
The Indians of this section lived mainly on sea-foods, as may be proved by the numerous shells and fish-bones to be found n the vicinity of their former settlements. In some places may be seen the ashes of their campfires. This is especially true of the dirt banks just south of the Palos Verdes Estates.
The chief materials they used in making their implements were stone, shells, and bones. The stones most used were flint, sandstone, granite, and obsidian. The flint and obsidian were used in making arrow and spear heads, while granite was used in the making of mortars, pestles, and various cooking implements. The shells, such as abalone, were used also as food containers, while the smaller one, such as cockleshells, were used as beads and ornaments. Their fishhooks were carved out of fishbone and fastened to the end of a long pole or a rope. It is thought that the Indians made their needles out of the bones of birds' legs. They also used asphaltum in some of their utensils, such as for stopping the holes in abalone shells. This they probably obtained from La Brea Pits.
The Indians of this section did little or no weaving. A few grass baskets were found in their graves, but these were probably obtained through trade with other Indians. Perhaps one of the chief reasons for their settling here was on account of the several good fresh-water springs found in the cliffs below their village site."
_____ 1931 _____
"The classification of arrowpoints from Redondo was made around three hundred specimens. The points are of small size, and average around one inch in length. Spear points are uncommon, and only fragments were recovered. The common method of hafting the points was that of inserting the asphalted parts into a notch cut in the shaft. This was bound with a cord of a material unidentified. Knife blades were hafted in the same manner. One specimen, complete, is in the Redondo Union High School Collection. The workmanship at Redondo varied. In certain sections of the site, and at different levels, come beautiful specimens were recovered. Intrusive culture is apparent as to chipped stone."
Source: "Notes of R. F. Van Valkenburgh at Los Angeles County Museum. From Notes 5-11-31", Walker notebook, Malaga Cove site, 1936, Southwest Museum.
_____ 1933 _____
"The school owns a part of the archaeological collection discovered by Dr. F. M. Palmer in an Indian burying ground located on South Catalina street, Redondo Beach." Source: 1933, "California of the South, A History, Vol. 3", by John S. McGroarty, Source: Los Angeles Central Public Library
_____ 1940 _____
"So sang the pioneers at the commercial birth of Redondo in 1906 ' for Redondo "was" long before 1906, a port of call for sailing vessels and commercial fishing boats. The land was lived on and known by Spaniards and Indians from far and wide; as unearthed specimens of Indian life, now shown at the Redondo Union High School, silently testify to." Source: The Redondo Breeze, December, 27, 1940, Article Title: "Redondo's Early Life Is Revealed"
_____ 1967 _____
Letter dated November 8, 1967:
"Mr. Neil Howard
1650 South Pacific Coast Highway
Redondo Beach, California 90277
Dear Mr. Howard:
We discussed again at principal's meeting the possibilities of our students helping to generate enthusiasm or interest in the history of Redondo for the historical committee. We point out two things which are available to the museum:
1. A copy of the Redondo Union High School Annual of about two years ago which was devoted to the history of Redondo.
2. We have a fine archaeological collection which the school has had for a number of years. This is Indian artifact, etc. these items might be good for the museum.
So far as student participation is concerned, our students are prepared to make talks to organizations in Redondo who might want to hear about the general history of Redondo or special facets of Redondo's history.
I would suggest in order to get this off the ground that you contact the principal and stop at the school and have lunch with him. I think in this way we can get the project under way more readily than for me to act as an intermediary. I think with a little bit of attention from you or other members of the committee we can get some action.
Very truly yours,
W. Earl Brown, Superintendent
South Bay Union High School District"
_____ 1972 _____
Letter dated March 14, 1972:
"Mr. Charles Morris
631 Vincent Street
Redondo Beach, California
Dear Mr. Morris:
Redondo Beach will celebrate an 80th anniversary April 29, 1972.
The Historical Commission would like the opportunity to display the Redondo Union High School collection of Indian Arrowheads during this time.
We respectfully request that this display be made available to the Historical Commission during the month of April.
Sincerely, Curt R. Richardson Chairman"
_____ 1974, Feb. 3 _____
[ Transcribed (caption) ]
"Sue Felts, student library assistant at Redondo Union High School, studies Indian artifacts at a display in the school lobby. The rocks, including an ancient grinding stone, were found within two-and-a-half miles of the school by Dr. F. M. Palmer."
Note: The artifacts in this 1974 photo of the 1917 Frank Palmer Collection while at the high school - all of these artifacts match up with the corresponding items in the Palmer Collection catalog listed below.
_____ 1977 _____
Redondo Beach Historical Commission meeting minutes, Source: City of Redondo Beach
. May 26, 1977:
"Indian Artifacts Redondo Union High School would like to loan Indian Artifacts and case. Artifacts had been gathered from several Indian burial ground in Redondo Beach. Storage place would be located and arrangements made to move from school. Inventory would be made of contents of case, contents stored so that back of case could be repaired. After contents were examined and it was felt need for insurance, check into this would be made with City Attorney."
July 28, 1977:
The cases had been moved from the Redondo High School and had been stored. Artifacts had been removed and carefully labeled and stored."
_____ 1991 _____
From Museum Tour Script (second draft) written in 1991 by Redondo Beach Historical Commissioners and Historical Society.
"Mortar and Pestle from Chowigna Indians
The Redondo Beach Historical Museum has quite an extensive collection of Indian artifacts. This area was very popular with the Indians because of the salt which was back of the Edison plant. There was a salt lake until it was filled in during the 1920's. There also were springs in the Hollywood Riviera and Palos Verdes areas which attracted the Indians. A few years ago an Indian Village was dedicated at Malaga Cove.
In a 1927 interview with Mrs. Frank Perry, she tells of the Indian burying grounds and villages which spread from Sapphire and Catalina to the southern boundary of Palos Verdes Estates and of how ashes from Indian campfires could be seen, especially on the dirt banks just south of Palos Verdes. She said that spearheads were usually made of flint and obsidian, granite steatite mortars, pestles was used for cooking implements; large shells such as abalone were used for containers with asphaltum filling any holes; fishhooks ere fashioned from fishbones; and needles were made from bones of birds' legs.
They did very little weaving, and baskets found near the graves were mostly obtained through trade.
Redondo was especially fortunate in having during its early days, a very gifted archaeologist and naturalist in the person of Dr. Francis M. Palmer, who was a dentist and the father of Mrs. Perry. When the Pacific Electric was broadening Catalina and building tracks, he found many artifacts. He made 17 different collections from this area and Catalina Island and gave one to the Southwest Museum, of which he was a founder, and one to the Smithsonian Institute. He gave one also to the high school, and that is the one found in our museum today."
"Produced by Nancy Conger & Maggie Tephany Editor - Maggie Tephany Scriptwriter - Nancy Conger Special thanks to: Gloria Synder, who researched and shared her many pictures. To Redondo Union High School for their collection of slides. To the members of City Hall and various members of the Redondo Beach Historical Society: Kathleen Achley, Casey Berent, Jo Ann Cope, Sandra Dyan, Jonathan Eubanks and Judith Fuhrman."
_____ 1992 _____
A majority of the Historical Commission members, including Gloria Snyder and Pat Dreizler, argue against moving the museum artifacts from the Knob Hill museum site to the new location at Dominquez Park as proposed by city staff. The arguments raised against using the proposed new building were security issues and lack of storage space and as Gloria Snyder said: "in moving, the City may save, but could loose priceless and irreplacable items". ... "She questions moving to a location where the collection could not be kept together and on display".
Excerpt from City of Redondo Beach Historical Commission Meeting Minutes of 11/19/1992:
"Gloria Snyder, former Historical Commission member and currently a member of the Preservation Commission said that she is not speaking for the Commission, but for herself and that she believes the Museum belongs in its present location. The Queen Anne is in a very isolated location with no homes around it and very susceptible to vandalism. In moving, the City may save $200,000, but could loose priceless and irreplaceable items. Her concern is that any storage area which is to be built contain the same climate, fire and security area as are being discussed for the Queen Anne, and she is further concerned that the staff report says may [underlined] be included in the Queen Anne. The Queen Anne building is too small and that the space allocated in the old library building is very limited. Another concern is the theft of items during Open Hours if the visibility by the volunteer on duty is limited from room to room. She questions moving to a location where the collection could not be kept together and on display."
_____ 1995 _____
The museum with artifacts were moved to the Dominquez Park site in 1995.
The Dominguez Park site in 1910 was the site of the City's sewer system - with 2945 state-art-the-art septic tanks, the site later used a city dump.
_____ 2008 _____
Called "Queen Anne", the house the museum is located on at Dominquez Park is damaged due to ground subsidence.
The building needs to be reconstructed. At some point, in the process of reconstruction, the 1917 Palmer Collection is put in a wheel-barrow and placed outside at the back of the building, exposed to the elements, at times unfenced, for the duration of the reconstruction period which took all winter. Artifacts are also boxed up and moved to several locations in the city.
Extract of the Historical Commission Meeting minutes (for the "wheel-barrow incident" time period):
[ Begin transcript of minutes ]
______ 05_22_2008 _____
OUEEN ANNE HOUSE RENOVATION PROJECT. Cultural and Performing Arts Manager La Rock stated the MOU for Cornerstone Construction would not be on the City Council Agenda for June 3, 2008. He stated Sharefest and Cornerstone are working to coordinate the donation of materials
______ 06_26_2008 _____
Historical Museum Renovation Advance Planning Cultural and Performing Arts Manager LaRock presented a staff report stating that the Historical Museum renovation project will require the removal and storage of artifacts currently located in the rear section of the Museum. He suggested cataloguing the inventory and presenting it along with a plan of how the items will be transported and where they will be stored to the City Council. This will show the City Council that the museum staff has prepared for the upcoming renovation. Chair Dreizler suggested that the Commission coordinate one month in the fall or winter to close the museum completely from visitors in order to carry out all the preparations. The Commission concurred. - In response the Chair Dreizler, Cultural and Performing Arts Manager LaRock stated he will inform the Commission when the MOU with Cornerstone Construction goes to City Council, as well as when the next council meeting on the CIP budget will be.
______ 07_24_2008 _____
ITEMS CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS AGENDAS Historical Museum Renovation Update Performing and Cultural Arts Manager LaRock stated that the Director of Recreation and Community Services will release the memorandum of understanding with Cornerstone Construction as a public document once it is signed and finalized. - Temporary Closure of Historical Museum for Interior Improvements It was the consensus of the Commission to await the finalized memorandum of understanding with Cornerstone Construction and discuss the temporary closure once the timeline for construction is known - There being no further business to come before the Commission, Motion by Commissioner White, seconded by Commissioner Ritums to adjourn the meeting at 6:40 p.m. to a regular meeting to be held at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 28;", 2008 in the Historical Museum. Motion carried unanimously.
______ 09_25_2008 _____
ITEMS CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS AGENDAS Historical Museum Renovation Update Performing and Cultural Arts Manager LaRock presented a staff report stating that the MOU with Cornerstone Construction was approved by the City Council on August 5, 2008. City staff will conduct a meeting with Cornerstone Construction and the Building, Engineering, Planning, Public Works, and Recreation and Community Services Departments to advance the requirements and scheduling of the terms of the MOU. Councilmember Aust updated the Commission on work that has already started on the Museum. Motion by Commissioner Marchese, seconded by Commissioner Hughes to receive and file the memorandum of understanding with Cornerstone Construction. Motion carried unanimously. Historical Museum Interior Renovation Schedule Performing and Cultural Arts Manager LaRock presented a staff report stating that the Historical Museum is currently closed during the construction project. During the closure the Historical Commission envisions reorganizing the Museum's artifact displays, rearranging the display cases, and painting the interior surfaces. Chair Dreizler stated that a timeline should be coordinated with staff to accomplish each task. Museum Inventory Update Performing and Cultural Arts Manager LaRock presented a staff report stating that the Historical Museum renovation project to secure the rear room of the facility required the expedited removal of historic artifacts and display cases. The artifacts removed are stored at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center and the display cases are stored at the Recreation and Community Services offices. He stated that staff is typing an inventory list. Chair Driezler suggested that since the inventory is being stored in various locations, that the list include the location of each item. She also recommended that the Commission have a tour of each location.
______ 10_23_2008 _____
Historical Museum Renovation Update Performing and Cultural Arts Manager LaRock presented a staff report stating that the demolition portion of the project is complete. The next phase will entail drilling the new foundation pilings for the rear room. He stated that Vic Braden with Cornerstone Construction anticipates coordinating the painting of the interior along with the exterior in order to save on paint cost, therefore the Commission should decide on interior paint colors quickly. Commissioner Ritums stated she likes the current scheme of antique white trim with pale pink walls. ...
______ 12_25_2008 _____
______ 1_22_2009 _____
Historical Museum Renovation Update Performing and Cultural Arts Manager LaRock presented a staff report stating that Cornerstone Construction will begin the next phase of construction during the week of November 10t". This phase will include drilling and installation of the new support pilings for the foundation of the rear room. Performing and Cultural Arts Manager LaRock distributed at timeline for work to occur during November and December and requested that the Commission consider ceremonies for the reopening of the Museum in January 2009. - Commissioner Dreizler distributed a proposed floor plan for the placement of items within the Museum upon completion of construction
______ 2_26_2009 _____
______ 3_05_2009 _____
Liaison La Rock gave a brief explanation of the renovation on the Historical Museum. He stated the request for acceptance of the renovation as complete would be on the City Council Agenda on March 17, 2009. He further stated that all the flooring had been re-done and leveled; all the fire sprinkler system had been re-vamped; and the sign out front had been re-hung facing the park. He stated the artifact containers were on back order.
______ 3_26_2009 _____
Staff Liason LaRock stated - He stated that before-and-after photo boards and a mock-up of a plaque commemorating the renovation project will be displayed. -Staff Liason LaRock presented a staff report stating that artifacts from the Historical Museum were removed from display during the renovation. These artifacts will be installed in new displays prior to the reopening. Monday, March 30th is to be a full working day restoring -
______ 4_23_2009 _____
HISTORICAL MUSEUM REOPENING CEREMONY - Staff Liaison LaRock announced the following action steps have been taken: -. Photo display illustrating the before-and-after of the renovation project
______ 5_28_2009 _____
[No mention of renovation project.]
< End transcript of minutes >
_____ 2010 _____
[ Rough notes: ]
Visited the Redondo Beach Historical Museum and noticed the prehistoric artifacts in a display case and some on the floor in another room. The objects were not labeled and no one in the museum could provide any information about them. Contacted UCLA archaeology department about the prehistoric artifacts in the Redondo Beach Historical Museum and asked them if they could possibly send someone out to check out the artifacts. On Sunday, November 7, 2010, Cindi Alvitre, the doctoral student at UCLA archaeologist and descendant and member of the Tongva community, visited the Redondo Beach Historical Museum and reviewed the artifacts. She liked the local character of the collection and recommended they be cataloged.
During Cindi's visit Pat Aust was at the museum. Aust is the city councilman for the district the museum is located. The museum attendant, Tike, had previously said that Councilman Aust was the person who knew most about the collection of prehistoric artifacts. With Cindi looking at the display case of artifacts, Councilman Aust was asked if he knew who's collection this is and where they came from. Aust said they were from John Bradley who collected them in the early 1960's from Alta Vista Park (local park) when the park was being developed. Asked if Bradley is still around, did he take photos of the excavation? Aust said, no photos and yes John Bradley still lives locally, but he does not talk to anybody - basically signaling, end of query about the origin of the prehistoric artifacts collection we were standing next to.
Pat Aust then said, the important thing to know is that the museum building in this park, the park was a former city dump and in 2008 the museum building was damaged due to the land under the building subsiding and for the period of time the building was being reconstructed, these artifacts were put in a wheel-barrow outside in the rain in the back of the museum building and at times it was unfenced. He said he was notified by his wife, Linda Aust, who is a volunteer docent in an adjacent museum building, who noticed the artifacts in the wheel-barrow and called her husband to salvage the artifacts from the wheel-barrow, which he did, by calling the person in charge of the museum (John LaRock) and telling him to put the artifacts inside the building.
_____ Catalog of artifacts - [ 1917 Frank Palmer Collection ] _____
Knife blade (complete with wooden handle, asphaltum)
Two-sided Milling Stone
Milling Stone and Mano
Group of artifacts (a)
Group of artifacts (b)
Group of artifacts (c)
Incised Stone Tablet
Perforated Disk Stone
Stone knife blade
Incised Stone Tablet
Abalone Shell Bowl - holes filled with asphaltum
Woven Sea Grass w/ box
[ The above objects can be considered as part of the original 1917 Frank Palmer Collection. ]
[ Could these following two items be Palmer's artifacts? ]
Piece of Plank Canoe?
Beads and Paper with handwriting
"Indian beads found in the sand hills above the cliffs at Redondo Beach, Calif. By Lawrence + Mabel Ainsworth 1889"
[ Another collection in the Redondo Beach Historical Museum is from John Bradley ]
These objects are from the Bradley Collection
Gaming Stone (Leland Bradley donation)
[ The following objects from an unknown source ]
Lummis and Palmer
Lummis (Southwest Museum founder Charles Lummis) and Dr. Palmer (Palmer, the first curator in charge of the Southwest Museum) were in agreement about the value of keeping local prehistoric artifacts local. The dispute between them occurred in 1909 when Lummis wrote publically in effect saying it would have been better to leave the prehistoric artifacts in the ground. Palmer, whose avocation was dentistry, not being professional archaeologist (though really not an amateur in these matters) took what Lummis wrote personally and replied publically
The argument Lummis made about keeping the artifacts in the ground, though of course correct, is problematic and ironical. The problem is knowing till such time the profession of archaeology has properly evolved to correctly handle digging them up and knowing that the artifacts would still be there then. The irony by Lummis is he was, at the same time, promoting the aggregation artifacts for the purpose of display in the new Southwest Museum. The museum to be financially supported by subscribers who wanted to see artifacts on display for the money they were providing.
More irony is these museum subscribers are those who mostly made their money in and around the profession of commerce (read: land development). Commerce has an ecological footprint resulting in disturbing the land in which prehistoric artifacts are in.
After the 1909 dispute, Palmer left as curator of the Southwest Museum and Lummis then realized the artifacts in the museum were not thoroughly catalogued. Lummis had expected Palmer during his time as curator of the museum to have also catalogued the collections there. Eventually, Lummis asked Palmer for a fixed cost for him to now catalog the artifacts. Palmer gave the correct professional consultant reply - the cost depends. This heightened the dispute between the two. Palmer eventually provided a cost for the service. Lummis declined having Palmer do the work - saying he does not want to pay twice for the same service.
Then Lummis hires a professional archaeologist as the new curator at the museum and to do the catalog. The new curator could not have known, as well as Palmer, the details about artifacts and sources of various original collections in the museum. So the provenance records of the original collections of prehistoric artifacts at the SW Museum are lacking.
Within 40 years of the Lummis / Palmer dispute, the land, the archaeological hot spot on the waterfront from Malaga Cove to the Old Salt Lake had been extensively developed.
Patterns and (Anti)Patterns
A pattern is a reusable solution to a problem. An (anti)pattern is a commonly used solution which in the long run is non-beneficial. The activity of people over time on the southwestern coast of the Santa Monica Bay is a remarkable local instance of patterns and (anti)patterns.
For instance, a good argument forwarded by archaeologist Donn Grenda is that instead of giving his artifacts to the high school in 1917, Dr. Palmer would instead have given his last collection to the Southwest Museum (where he previously worked as curator) if he not had the dispute with the Southwest Museum founder Charles Lummis. So, can Dr. Palmer's gift to the Redondo Union High School in 1917 be considered an instance of an (anti)pattern? Giving valuable prehistoric artifacts to high schools is today no longer a pattern as it was in 1917, the general consensus now being it's not beneficial in the long run.
Recent breakthroughs in complexity theory show that human complexity (hierarchy) itself is an (anti)pattern. Hierarchies simply don't scale as well as nature. The metabolic cost per unit of maintaining a hierarchy will always increase. Hierarchies always become ossified and dysfunctional causing an ever increasing ecological / historical footprint. What happened and is still happening to the prehistoric artifacts Dr. F. M. Palmer gave the local high school in 1917 can be considered as an instance of this (anti)pattern.
The remains of the 1917 Frank Palmer Collection need to be identified, isolated from other objects and displayed again as the valuable stand-alone collection of local prehistoric artifacts it is including an identification card about Palmer. It's a bona fide emergency salvage of culture situation.