The Fall of the House of Baldwin

The front gate of the Anoakia housing development. Built on the site of the original Anoakia. – Photo by Galen Patterson / Beacon Media News

Part 4: other artifacts

By Galen Patterson

The McCaslin family did not want to demolish Anoakia. The property was an institution, and they knew it. The family tried work out different ways to preserve the property, but in the end, developing was the decision they came to.

The original owner within the McCaslin family, Lowry McCaslin, had managed to buy the property shortly after Anita’s health failed, and she passed on. It remained with the McCaslins until they sold it in the late ‘90s.

Just a few years after Anita’s death, Anoakia was transformed into a school first instructing young girls in 1940 and later becoming coed in the ‘70s. The final class attended was in 1990.

The property remained stagnant after the school moved, until it was demolished.

When the McCaslin family decided to sell Anoakia, they took what they wanted to keep, donated some artifacts, and auctioned off what was left over.

As mentioned previously, the artwork from the Jinks room, a children’s playroom, was donated to a permanent display at USC. The McCaslin family kept several Dixon paintings they cherished, which still reside with the family today.

A piece of the fountain in front of Anoakia, which can be found on display at the Gilb Museum. – Photo by Galen Patterson / Beacon Media News

Donated pieces found their way to the second floor of the California State Library building in Sacramento. They are wide rectangles depicting Native Americans against a vast horizon; the murals stand at the flanks of a bronze sculpture of Dixon himself, created by bronze artist Gary Smith. The murals have been there since their donation in 1997.

A guard house is still intact on the property, along with sections of the wall around the compound. Behind the new gates, a teal-blue carving still welcomes guests to the housing development still named Anoakia.

A triumphant, Asian-themed vase from the front fountain outside Anoakia ended up at the Gilb Museum, on display for all of Arcadia to see. The vase was once outfitted with a small dragon attached to the rim. The dragon is gone now, lost in time, but the rivets in the side of the vase show its authenticity.

Shortly before the auctioneers scalped the yard and walls for good, a lone cameraman recorded and produced a short film entitled “The Last Tour.” They filmed long shots, wide shots, extreme close-ups and the general majesty of Anoakia.

Dr. Dana Hicks, curator of the Gilb Museum, points out how the camera zooms in to catch the details painstakingly carved into every surface. The film plays on repeat at the museum in Anita’s permanent exhibit as a constant reminder that there was once something of great effort and cost there, something extraordinary.

January 31, 2019

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Galen Patterson

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