Swami Vivekananda in Southern California

*Violet indicates lodging

*Maroon indicates events

Lodging


Spencer Home

December 3, 1899 – December 10, 1899
Swami Vivekananda stayed at Miss Spencer’s house for few days, however the location is unknown.

At Miss Spencer’s, he met Judge William A. Cheney of the Los Angeles Superior Court Bernhard Baumgardt, both through Josephine MacLeod. Baumgardt was the secretary of the Southern California Academy of Science and the chairman of the Math and Astronomy Sections. Mrs. Baumgardt also became deeply interested in his teachings.

 

Blodgett Home

December 10, 1899 – January 4, 1900
Swami Vivekananda stayed at Mrs. Roxie S. Blodgett’s house, 921 W 21st St. Mrs. Blodgett had heard Swami’s Parliament Opening Address in 1893.

During this stay, he gave informal talks. He met the Mead sisters, Alice and Helen, on December 13. During the week of December 16, Swami met Mrs. Melton, a magnetic healer to whom he went for daily morning magnetic treatments. Her house was within walking distance of the Blodgett house.

 

Stimson Mansion

Couple of days around December 19, 1899, and
January 4, 1900 – January 13, 1900
After being introduced to Willard H. Stimson by Mrs. Blodgett, Swami Vivekananda was a guest at the Stimson mansion, 2421 S Figueroa St.

It was there that on December 20 he met Mr. J. Ransome Bransby director of Los Angeles Home of Truth, a religious society of “New Thought” and Christian Healing and Teaching. Mr. Bransby invited Vivekananda to give talks at the Home of Truth.

 

Echo Mountain House

January 13, 1900 – January 14, 1900
Swami Vivekananda took a brief excursion with Mr. and Mrs. Baumgardt, Mrs. Leggett and Josephine MacLeod to Mt. Lowe in the San Gabriel Mountains north of Pasadena. He gave a brief talk on the morning of the 14th. From the hotel the party took a trolley to Alpine Tavern and then stargazed at Mt. Lowe Observatory.

The hotel was destroyed by fire days after their visit on February 5, 1990. The observatory still stands, but all other structures and the railway that brought visitors to Echo Mountain were destroyed by subsequent fires or the 1938 flood.

 

Newton Home

January 14, 1900 – January 19, 1900
Swami Vivekananda stayed at Mrs. Jacob C. Newton’s house, 1407 Fair Oaks Ave.

 

Bowler Home

January 19, 1900 – January 25, 1900
Swami Vivekananda stayed at Mrs. Emeline F. Bowler’s house, 63 S Los Robles Ave. Mrs. Bowler was the president of Shakespeare Club.

He moved to this house, probably because he was heavily booked with lectures in Shakespeare Club the following week. He eventually fled from the house and wound up in the Meads’ house saying “I have come to stay with you. That’s too much of a lady!”

 

Mead Sisters’ Home

January 25, 1900 – February 21, 1900
Swami Vivekananda stayed at Meads Sisters’ House, 309 Monterey Rd.

Over the course of the month, he often prepared one meal a day and sat by the hearth with the family after dinner sharing stories, poetry and the need for spiritual values in America. He also often talked and played with the children to whom he loved reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He also often strolled and chatted with Mrs. Wyckoff in the garden. On Occasion, he gave private interviews in the afternoon. he often picnicked on a nearby hill where he would give a talk. accompanied by the Meads, Mrs. Bruce and other students. He also often strolled and chanted with Mrs. Wyckoff in the garden. Occasionally in the afternoon he gave private interviews. He often prepared one meal a day at the Meads and sat by the fireplace with the family after dinner sharing stories, poetry and the need for spiritual values in America. He also often talked and played with the children and loved reading “Alice in Wonderland” to them. left his pipe on the parlor mantle. Mrs. Wyckoff was later relieved of an ailment by holding the it. The house was obtained by the Vedanta Society of Southern California where a swami of the Ramakrishna Order lives and monthly retreats are held.

On February 21, he left Los Angeles via Southern Pacific train for Northern CA.

 

Events


Los Angeles Santa Fe Depot

December 3, 1899
Swami Vivekananda arrived at La Grande Station where he was greeted by Josephine McLeod. Its Moorish dome was heavily damaged by the Long Beach earthquake. The station functioned as a freight depot from the 1940s until it was razed. The site is now used by the Metropoltian Transit Authority.

 

Blanchard Hall

December 8, 1899
Lectured in Los Angeles for the first time at Blanchard Hall, 233 S Broadway, at 8 p.m., arranged by Mr. Baumgardt. Subject: “Vedanta Philosophy or Hinduism as a Religion.”

600 people attended the lecture. The Mead sisters (Mrs. Carrie Mead Wyckoff, Mrs. Alice Mead Hansbrough, and Miss Helen Mead) of Pasadena were in the audience, but they didn’t get to meet him personally until later.

December 19, 1899
Lectured at Blanchard Hall at 7.30 p.m. Subject: “Applied Psychology”. Around 200 people attended the lecture.

January 2, 1900
Lectured at Blanchard Hall in the evening. Subject: “The People of India”

January 6, 1900
Lectured at Blanchard Hall in the evening. Subject: “The History of India”

 

Unity Church

December 12, 1899
Lectured at the Unity Church, corner of W 3rd and S Hill St, at 8 p.m., also arranged by Mr. Baumgardt. Subject: “The Cosmos – The Veda Conception of the Universe”.

1000 people attended the lecture. Introduced by Abbot Kinney, President of the Academy. Mr. Lloyd, a Harvard graduate who obtained a degree in Germany, attended the “Cosmos” lecture and paid tribute to Swami’s advanced thinking in psychology and modern thought.

 

Home of Truth

December 21, 1899
Lectured at the Home of Truth (consumed by Los Angeles Convention Center now). Subject: “Applied Psychology II”

On the same day, he also greeted Josephine MacLeod with “Happy New Year”. Both greeted the sun and recited the Gayatri.

December 22, 1899
Lectured at the Home of Truth at 10 am. Subject: “Applied Psychology III”

December 25, 1899
Lectured at the Home of Truth at 10 am. Subject: “Christ’s Message to the World”

December 26, 1899
Lectured at the Home of Truth at 10 am. Subject: “Mind and Its Powers”

December 27, 1899
Lectured at the Home of Truth at 10 am. Subject: “The Theory of Concentration”

December 28, 1899
Lectured at the Home of Truth at 10 am. Subject: “The Practice of Concentration”

December 29, 1899
Lectured at the Home of Truth at 10 am. Subject: “Spiritual Breathing, Hints on Practical Spirituality”

December 30, 1899
Lectured at the Home of Truth at 10 am. Subject: “Reincarnation”

 

Severance Home

December 23, 1899
Attended reception in the morning at Mrs. Caroline M. Severance’s (President Emeritus of Friday Morning Club) house at 806 W Adams Blvd. The reception was probably attended by Kate Woods (Salem, Mass).

John Tracy Clinic is at this location now. The north-south street on the north of the site is Severance St, probably named after the “Mother of Clubs” Caroline Severance.

 

Los Angeles Theater

December 23, 1899
Saw the play “My Friend from India” (a farce comedy on Swami, New York, and high society), in the Los Angeles Theater, 227 S Spring St, with Miss MacLeod, Mr. Baumgardt, Mrs. Hansbrough and others.

Marie Louise Burke writes in Swami Vivekananda in the West – New Discoveries Vol. 5: “The play was really very funny,” Mrs. Hansbrough assures us, “and Swamiji enjoyed it hugely. Professor Baumgardt [who had been the party’s host] said he had never seen anyone laugh so hard or so much.”

This play was the most successful production of American playright, Henry A. Du Souchet. It is a satire concerning the lionizing of Swami Vivekananda by the New York Society. It deals with a barber dressed in a yellow silk bedspread who is presented as who one has been studying mysticism of the East and has learned all there is to know of Theosophy and attained the most exalted state, Nirvana. The play later became a silent motion picture in 1927.

The script can be found here.

 

Payne’s Hall

January 2, 1900
First class at Payne’s Hall, 330 1/2 S Broadway, at 10 am.

January 3, 1900
Second class at Payne’s Hall, at 10 am. The only class given in Southern California on Karma Yoga.

January 4, 1900
Third class at Payne’s Hall, at 10 am. Subject: “What Brings Success”

January 5, 1900
Fourth class at Payne’s Hall, at 10 am. Subject: “We Ourselves”

January 6, 1900
Lectured at Payne’s Hall, at 10 am.

January 7, 1900
Lectured at Payne’s Hall, at 2:30 pm. Subject: “Christ’s Message to the World”. Lecture hall filled to capacity and over 100 people were turned away.

January 8, 1900
Lectured at Payne’s Hall, at 8 pm. Subject: “The Powers of the Mind”. This was the last known lectured within Los Angeles city.

 

Orpheum

January 11, 1900
Goes to a vaudeville show (probably in Orpheum at 112 S Main St) with Mrs. Francis Leggett and others. He was invited by a girl dancer who heard him in London in 1896, adopted his precepts and used her dance to express them.

 

Hotel Green

January 15, 1900
Lectured in the morning at Hotel Green, 99 S Raymond Ave, the first lecture in Pasadena. Subject: “Bhakti Yoga, or the Religion of Love”

The main building still exists, but the East Wing where he lectured does not.

January 17, 1900
Lectured at Hotel Green at 10 am. Subject: Unknown.

January 19, 1900
Lectured at Hotel Green at 10 am. Subject: Unknown.

 

Casa Lomo Hotel

January 16, 1900
Visited Redlands with Mrs. Leggett and Miss MacLeod. Had lunch at Casa Loma Hotel, corner of Orange St and Colton Ave. There is a plaque at the corner where the hotel once stood.

 

Canyon Crest Park

January 16, 1900
Visited Canyon Crest Park with Mrs. Leggett and Miss MacLeod after lunch at Casa Lomo Hotel. The area is now a residential area called the Smiley Heights.

 

Shakespeare Club

January 16, 1900
Lectured at Shakespeare Club, NW corner of Fair Oaks Ave and Lincoln St at that time (due to I-210 construction, Lincoln does not intersect Fair Oaks anymore) at 8 pm. Subject: “Religious Legends of India”

January 18, 1900
Lectured at the Shakespeare Club at 8 pm. Subject: “Women of India”. He was confronted by Christian missionaries during and after the lecture.

January 20, 1900
Honored at a reception at Shakespeare Club from 3 to 5 pm. Met Miss Lilian York. Lectured at the Club. Subject: “Persian Art”

January 22, 1900
Lectured at Shakespeare Club at 10 am. Subject: “The Ideal of a Universal Religion”

January 24, 1900
Lectured at Shakespeare Club at 10 am. Subject: Unknown

January 25, 1900
Lectured at Shakespeare Club at 10 am. Subject: “The Science of Yoga”

January 26, 1900
Lectured at Shakespeare Club at 10 am. Subject: Unknown

January 27, 1900
Lectured at Shakespeare Club at 10 am. Subject: “My Life and Mission”. Met Jesse Mead (father of Alice Hansbrough, Helen Mead, and Carrie Wyckoff) and housekeeper Miss Fairbanks.

January 30, 1900
Lectured at Shakespeare Club. Subject: “The Aryan Race”. Met Mrs. Annie Smith who watched seeds of his spiritual teachings grow all over the Pacific coast.

January 31, 1900
Lectured at Shakespeare Club. Subject: “The Ramayana”

February 1, 1900
Lectured at Shakespeare Club. Subject: “The Mahabharata”

February 2, 1900
Lectured at Shakespeare Club. Subject: “Buddhistic India”

February 3, 1900
Lectured at Shakespeare Club, the last lecture in Pasadena. Subject: “The Great Teachers of the World”

 

Universalist Church

January 28, 1900
Lectured at Universalist Church, SW corner of Fair Oaks Ave and Chestnut St, in the evening. Pastor: Rev. Ralph Connery. Subject: “The Ideal of a Universal Religion”

 

Throop Polytechnic Institute

February 6, 1900
Visited Throop Polytechnic Institute and Manual Training School, SW corner of Fair Oaks Ave and Green St.

The Institute developed into Cal Tech. Impressed with the concept of this school, he introduced the idea into India.

 

For all chronological events in Southern California, please refer to The Chronology of Swami Vivekananda in Southern California and pages 50 to 52 in The Chronology of Swami Vivekananda in the West.