Charles Fletcher Lummis was an editor at the Los Angeles Times who played a key role in the development of the printing community in Los Angeles. Lummis had walked from Ohio to California, spending time in New Mexico and writing letters of his journey along the way. Charles built the Lummis Home in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles and housed a yearly art salon and helped to develop one of Southern California’s first “arts and cultures” neighborhoods in the Arroyo Seco area north of Los Angeles.
In 1905, Lummis organized a collection of early Spanish documents which would become the Los Angeles Public Library Rare Book Collection. This, along with other collections, became the central holdings of the first museum in Los Angeles, the Southwest Museum. It opened in the Mt. Washington area of Los Angeles in 1914, and it is dedicated to Southwestern history and cultures.
During this same period, printer Clyde Browne became interested in printing communities and eventually acted as a mentor to many Los Angeles printers. After learning of the Roycroft Print Movement, founded by Elbert Hubbard in East Aurora, New York, Browne had decided to begin a similar print community in the Arroyo Seco neighborhood. Featuring stones from Mt. Washington, Monrovia Canyon, and Calabasas, Browne built the Abbey San Encino in 1915 in Highland Park, which eventually became a haven for Los Angeles printers, including former UCLA Head Librarian Lawrence Clark Powell and his lifelong friend Ward Ritchie.
Ward Ritchie was a fine printer who flourished in the 1920–30s Los Angeles printing community, writing about 100 books, designing nearly 750, and publishing thousands. Ward was a childhood friend of Lawrence Clark Powell; whatever Powell wrote, Ritchie printed. Referencing changes in print technology over the years, Richie once told the LA Times, “My generation learned how to set type, how to design a page, how to run a press. Now it takes a computer expert to set type, and book design is being done by professional designers.”
Lawrence Clark Powell referred to himself as, simply, “a bookman.” The two became members of the Rounce and Coffin Club, a book collectors club (named after printer’s terms) and carved a niche for artistic printing and world literature in Southern California. Clyde Browne’s printed works are held in Special Collections at Occidental College Library and at the UCLA’s William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.