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


The Rollin Lane Project documents the life, family and accomplishments of banker and real estate developer, Rollin Benjamin Lane. Although nearly unknown today, Lane played a key role in the late 19th and early 20th century development of several California locations including Redlands, Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley and the agricultural empire of California’s San Joaquin Valley. In addition, Rollin and his wife Katherine supported fine arts organizations, local artists and musicians and civic improvement projects, and made sizable donations to schools and charities.

The project began in early 2007 as a promotional piece for the Academy of Magical Arts. The goal was to highlight some of the previously undocumented architecture and external features of the Academy’s 100 year old clubhouse, as well as historical and contemporary tie-ins to the world of magic.

As work progressed, it became clear that the long accepted history of the building was incomplete and largely incorrect. The project’s focus quickly expanded to include the far more difficult task of learning the true history of the mansion and its original owners.

In the summer of 2008 and fall of 2009, preliminary findings were presented by way of well received lectures to the AMA membership.

In February of 2009, on the advice of several Academy members, the “magical” aspects of the project were removed to allow a more accurate and historically meaningful report. The promotional elements were replaced by expanded biographies.

The information presented here is a summary of over 250 pages of newspaper and magazine articles, photographs, maps, letters, land deeds, census reports, city directories, passports, ship’s manifests, voter registrations, and other notes collected during the three-year project.

george w siegel
George W. Siegel
Society of Architectural Historians

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Copyright 2010 George W. Siegel, unless otherwise noted