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Point Loma

Buildings at Point Loma

No expense was spared in the construction of Point Loma. From the Greek Theatre to the enormous glass domes that towered above the commune, the Tingley version of Utopia was opulent. Point Loma supported itself partially through the fruit orchards which blanketed their land, although money was never an issue at Point Loma until the Depression. Today, California Western University owns the old Point Loma grounds.

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In 1897 Katherine Tingley founded the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society at Point Loma, a peninsula in San Diego. Tingley's beliefs mixed humanitarianism with the occult. Members received no wages, and worked at tasks assigned to them on a rotating basis. At its peak, Point Loma had approximately 500 members. The community was basically a school run according to Theosophist principles. The members were very educated – most were polyglots with a facility in an Eastern tongue. The East-West cultural center regularly read from Christian, Confucian, Hindu, and Buddhist texts and adopted a pseudo-League of Nations flag as their own. The movement appealed to a certain social/intellectual stratum of the world in their universal call to brotherhood. “An injury to one is an injury to all” was a favorite phrase of Tingley.

At Point Loma, children lived in bungalows and were educated in communal nurseries. They only saw their parents on Sundays. Tingley called these youth programs the Raja-Yoga or “Kingly-Union” school. At Tingley’s initiative, the commune adopted groups of Cuban children and orphans and cared for them at the Raja-Yoga school.

Tingley was a remarkable woman of keen intellect, demonstrative personality, and grandiose vision. After her death, the hugely successful example of progressive, upper-class utopian living at Point Loma could not survive.

In 1898, Dr. William H. Dower and Mrs. Francia LeDue of the Theosophical lodge in Syracuse, New York received mystical instructions to shun Tingley's teachings in favor of the original teachings of Blavatsky. In 1903 they moved to a valley near Pismo Beach, north of Santa Barbara, named it Halcyon, and instituted the Temple of the People. There they built a sanatorium, and a cooperative society named the Temple Home Association. The community experienced internal troubles throughout its existence, and in 1912 the cooperative society disbanded.

Albert Powell Warrington, an Adyar Theosophist, established a Hollywood, California outpost in 1912, named Krotona. It had few communitarian principles; instead the group shared a common Theosophist philosophy. When Hollywood became too crowded in 1924, Krotona sold their 15 acres of land and moved to the Ojai Valley, northeast of Los Angeles. Here they established a school of Theosophy.