Dr. Roy S. Lanterman’s parents initially settled in the Crescenta-Cañada Valley in 1875. After practicing as a doctor in Los Angeles, Roy decided to return to his childhood town with his wife and two teenage sons. His wife Emily was from a wealthy Santa Monica family and was reluctant to move out to the rural and isolated location. This lavish house, which included many modern conveniences, was Dr. Lanterman’s way of persuading his wife that life in La Cañada could still be comfortable. He even included a ballroom on the second story of the house.
Dr. Lanterman was particularly interested in building a concrete house not only because of the high risk of fire from the native chaparral surrounding the property, but also because he had seen firsthand the dangers of fire while running an emergency hospital in San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.
Roy and Emily Lanterman lived in the home from 1915 until their deaths in 1948 and 1949, respectively. Their son, Lloyd, was a mechanical engineer who was known for designing race car engines. He left the family home and all of its original furnishings to the city in 1987. His brother, Frank, was an accomplished silent movie organist until “talkies” ruined that gig. In 1950, he was elected to the California State Assembly and he became a well known and powerful politician who, among other things, championed the rights of the developmentally disabled and mentally ill, authoring landmark legislation that acknowledged their rights and provided them with state services.
The Lanterman House was opened as a museum in 1993 after undergoing years of exterior restoration using money raised by the museum foundation and through both city and state grants.