Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Photo Essay: The Rock Art of Dunsmore Park, Former Home of Mt. Lukens Sanitarium

Sometimes, knowing something used to be there is enough reason to go visit it.

Especially when it was a tuberculosis sanitarium.



But when tearing down most of the historic structures of the former Mount Lukens Sanitarium (later renamed Dunsmore Sanitarium) to convert it into parkland in 1957, the City of Glendale left a few recognizable traces of the parcel's recuperative past: the community house, and the rock gateways and retaining walls.



The entrance and exit look institutional enough.



The current community building, which has been fully restored, bears a similar rock collage pattern, making it easy to recognize as an original part of the facility.



But upon closer examination...



...those walls aren't just an amalgamation of locally-sourced granite and multicolored geologic fragments from around the western states of Montana, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.



They are a work of art, with found materials embedded in the surface and the mortar...



...many of which have been pried out and pilfered for their potential collector's and resale value.



These art walls were the pet project of the owner of Dunsmore Sanitarium, Milton Hofert, who was more of an administrator of the facility rather than a medical provider himself.



After all, many of Dunsmore's patients were more or less done-for, and in lieu of a cure, sought comfort in the bucolic open air of Glendale.



Perhaps built by Hofert himself, with help from some of the patients (though more likely from local healthy convicts), the walls appeared in the 1940s and 50s...



...and feature a hodgepodge of artifacts...



...some decorative...



...others utilitarian...



...and some downright industrial.



You can find anything from guns and scissors...



...to cogs, wheels and gears...



...horseshoes, pliers, and faucets.



Hofert fought for the walls to survive the conversion into Dunsmore Park...



...and even today, there are seemingly miles of them that remain...



...though vandals and scavengers have pocketed some of the antique embellishments...



...at times, leaving only an impression of what was once there.



Anything that's left is probably pretty firmly planted in there...



...though you can be sure that someone has tried to wrestle it out.



Part junkyard sculpture, part folk art, the beauty in the walls comes from their hidden treasures.



They are visually cacophonous when viewed from afar...



...but it's a delight to find the more delicate designs...



...the decorative tiles...



...the very pretty patterns and figures and shapes...



...that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Further Reading: 
"The Watts Towers of La Crescenta" (Crescenta Valley Weekly)

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Rockhaven Sanitarium, Closed to Public, Exterior
Photo Essay: Barlow Sanitorium, Neglected
Photo Essay: The Wall of Toys at the Garden of Oz