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Southwest Museum Expects to Reopen Library

May 12, 1987|DENISE HAMILTON | Times Staff Writer

The Southwest Museum expects to reopen its library and historic archives on Wednesday, thanks to a $150,000 grant from the ministry of flamboyant and controversial television preacher Gene Scott.

"This is wonderful," museum director Patrick T. Houlihan said Monday after a representative from Scott's church handed him a check at a small ceremony outside the Mt. Washington museum.

The library houses a unique collection of Western, Indian and Spanish colonial materials. It was closed last month by the museum's board of trustees in an effort to trim a $400,000 deficit in this year's $1.2-million operating budget for the museum.

Houlihan said that Scott, whose church recently started a collection, approached him last year about helping the museum. But the talks were inconclusive because Scott was busy with other projects, both sides said.

After he read in March about the closing of the library, Scott called the museum with an offer of help, Houlihan said.

Wants to See It Open

"I happen to love the Southwest. . . . I want to see that library reopen," Scott said Monday in a telephone interview. He was scheduled to present the check in person but was unexpectedly detained in San Diego.

Scott, who has a doctorate in philosophy from Stanford University, is no stranger to libraries or historic preservation. In January he donated the use of his Glendale-based studios and his cable TV network for a telethon that raised about $2 million for the fire-ravaged Los Angeles Central Library.

And earlier this year he became embroiled in a battle to save the Church of the Open Door, a downtown landmark known for its "Jesus Saves" sign, when he asked the Los Angeles City Council to declare it a cultural-historic monument. Scott had entered into an agreement to purchase the church and relocate his Westcott Christian Center there, but stopped making payments on the $23-million facility when he ran into legal and financial difficulties.

An unorthodox minister, Scott supports the right to abortion and welcomes homosexuals in his church. His ministry has at least 19 over-the-air stations and cable outlets in 15 markets.

The $150,000 grant will allow the Southwest Museum library to remain open for one year and will fund several improvements, including cataloguing about 600 American Indian and early Spanish music recordings, Houlihan said. Hours will also be expanded--from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.

Visitors From Afar

Museum officials said they hope to raise enough money in the coming year to keep the library open permanently. It was founded in the late 1970s and requires an annual budget of about $100,000, Houlihan said.

About 3,000 researchers and scholars visit the library each year, some from as far away as Europe and South America. Over the years its collection has grown to include 70,000 books, 150,000 turn-of-the-century photographs and thousands of original manuscripts, including diaries, letters and anthropological field research papers.

The Southwest Museum, founded in 1907 by amateur historian and Indian expert Charles Lummis, sits atop Mt. Washington overlooking the Pasadena Freeway. About 60,000 people visit it each year.

Before summer, museum officials also plan to reopen the Casa de Adobe, a re-creation of a pre-1850s Spanish ranch house several blocks away that was closed last month to save money.

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