The death of Lloyd Lanterman last week, the last survivor of the family that founded La Canada more than 100 years ago, allows the city of La Canada Flintridge to move forward with an ambitious plan to convert his 1.2-acre estate into a combination city hall and community center.
The La Canada Flintridge City Council took the first step in that plan last week when, after being apprised of Lanterman's failing health, it commissioned a 6-month architectural study of the site. Lanterman, who was 89, died of a heart attack Friday at Verdugo Hills Hospital.
Lanterman, who never married, willed his home to the city several years ago on the condition that he be allowed to live there until his death. He was moved to the hospital this month after suffering a stroke, said Eugene V. Burrows, a family friend and trustee for the estate.
City officials said Lanterman's death will not speed up the study.
"The study is very complicated, and we're not going to rush into it," said City Manager Don Otterman.
Plans call for Pasadena architects Spencer & Aroyan Associates to study structural, space, plumbing, electrical wiring and fire-safety needs. City officials said they also will investigate whether converting the home for public use would cause undue noise and traffic in the residential neighborhood. The 12,000-square-foot home is on Encinas Drive.
Council members, however, said they are also anxious to find a permanent city hall. The city now pays about $50,000 annually to rent two professional office suites on Foothill Boulevard, Otterman said, adding that: "It makes economic sense for us to get out of here as quickly as we can."
About 60 people attended funeral services for Lanterman Wednesday at the Church of the Lighted Window on Foothill Boulevard. The Lanterman family helped build the church and Lloyd Lanterman served there as church historian.
Community leaders recalled Lloyd Lanterman as a man whose gentle personality was eclipsed by that of his more outspoken brother, Frank Lanterman, who was a state assemblyman.
"Lloyd always kind of lived in the shadow of his brother. He wasn't a public person at all," Otterman said.
Lloyd Lanterman was best known as a mechanical engineer who experimented with steam-driven autos. The Lanterman family arrived in La Canada in 1876, when Dr. Jacob L. Lanterman, Lloyd's grandfather, bought the 6,000-acre eastern part of Rancho La Canada.
Lloyd and Frank Lanterman each owned a half-interest in the La Canada Flintridge estate and planned to leave most of it to their alma mater, USC. But, after Frank Lanterman died in 1981, his brother, fearing that the house might be torn down, changed the will in a complicated series of transactions and bequeathed it to the city of La Canada Flintridge.
To commemorate Lanterman's death, a flag at the city's Memorial Park has flown at half-staff since Friday.