The True History of Rollin B. Lane, His Family and His Castle

Chapter 9: 1922-1945 - Travel and Philanthropy in their Later Years



At the beginning of the 1920’s, Rollin was making a comfortable income from his various investments and Katherine continued her club work.

1922 marked the passing of Rollin’s mother, Olive, at 90 years of age. At that point, the last of her early investments finally transferred to Rollin.

Katherine apparently was not satisfied with her access to the family’s wealth. In 1923, she retained the services of Los Angles attorneys Scarborough and Bowen and sued for divorce.

1923 Katherine Lane Sues for Divorce
Los Angeles Time, 6-5-1923

After little more than a week’s separation, a judge dismissed the case and lifted the restraining order. The Lanes reconciled.

1923 case dismissed
Los Angeles Times, 6-13-1923

These events seem to have changed Rollin’s perspective. He began traveling the world with his family and he more actively supported (funded) Katherine’s community service and philanthropic endeavors. 

On December 1, 1923, Rollin, Katherine and Rollin Jr. boarded the steamship Franconia for a 5-month cruise and a tour of Europe. Destinations on the family’s passport included Japan, China, Hongkong, Straits, India, Ceylon, Singapore, Java, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, British Isles, France and Italy. They returned in late May of 1924, having traveled a reported 28,000 miles

Steamship Franconia
Steamship Historical Society of America, Inc.

After their return, the Lanes immediately resumed the hosting of parties for other world travelers.

(Add section re: support of local opera company, lectures on psychology and other subjects, and art shows in their home..)

In early July of 1929, the Lane family left on a motor trip of several weeks that included San Francisco and Yosemite. Upon their return, the Lanes announced that they were planning to spend the summer in Europe.

Meanwhile, construction had started on a school and community center at Pickett, thanks to a $20,000 donation from Rollin. The school (describe........)


1-1930  Rollin and Katherine attended the dedication of the schoolhouse at Pickett.

Pickett School

The Daily Northwestern, 1-10-1930


In April of 1930, the Lanes donated $20,000 for the construction of a cottage for the Los Angeles Children’s Society, the organization for which they had given annuals parties and from which they adopted Rollin Jr.
1930 - Children's home
Los Angeles Times, 4-23-1930


Two months later, Rollin and Katherine attended the laying of the cornerstone of the Lane Library at Pickett College. The ceremonies included an address by Rollin, emphasizing the virtues of high moral character.
TDN - donor lays cornerstone
The Daily Northwestern, 6-16-1930


A year later, Rollin returned to Ripon for dedication of the library. speaking at the commencement exercises for the graduating seniors of the class of 1931.

library dedicated
The Daily Northwestern, 6-15-1931


Lane Library - Ripon College - Doug Wallick
Lane Library as it looks today, Ripon College, Ripon, Wisconsin

Photograph by Doug Wallick - All rights reserved


During the 1932 Olympics held in Los Angeles, Katherine was one of the official city hostesses and Holly Chateau was open every day to welcome visitors from Wisconsin. 

1932 Olympics - hostess
Los Angeles Times, 7-24-1932


Although the following article is about Katherine’s speaking engagement at the Los Angeles Oshkosh Club, it is also one of the best summaries of her many achievements in community service.

1934 - oshkosh club 1

1934 - oshkosh club 2

1934 - oshkosh club 3
Los Angeles Times, 12-8-1934


Under construction - To be continued....

CLAIM: Actress Janet Gaynor once owned, rented, or had often stayed at the mansion.

FACT: This misinformation appears in at least two books on the history of Hollywood as early as 1992’s The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book” by William A. Gordon and repeated by Zollo in 2002, Alleman in 2005 and several relatively irresponsible websites. All are completely wrong, as a couple hours worth of fact-checking would have revealed. There was no connection between Gaynor and the Lane mansion.


Copyright 2010 George W. Siegel, unless otherwise noted