The first signs you are approaching the former home of conservationist Theodore Lukens are the hitching post and mounting stone.
Standing next to the curb of El Molino Avenue, the hitching post and mounting stone are waiting for horse-bound visitors to come pay their respects to the man who was an early advocate of re-forestation, friend to John Muir, and a two-time mayor of Pasadena.
The 5,000 square foot gingerbread Victorian manse behind the hitching post was built in 1887, just one year after Pasadena was incorporated into Los Angeles County, and from the beginning the Ohio-born Lukens was one of the pillars of the new municipality. A chronically nature-minded man, he traveled to Yosemite in 1895 in the hopes of meeting John Muir. He caught up with the famed conservationist in Hetch Hetchy Valley, and this meeting set the stage for Lukens’ career in forestry.
Muir would later recommend Lukens’ services to the U.S. Forest Service, and the former realtor and banker would go on to create a tree nursery that provided seedlings for burn recovery efforts across the Southern California region. He was an early member of the Sierra Club, and a close friend of Muir for twenty years. In recognition of his conservation efforts, Muir was moved to write Lukens saying that “It is always pleasant to think of you planting trees to grow great and do good centuries after we are all gone.”