Lanterman House Gets New Director

Laura Verlaque

When Laura Verlaque takes over as the executive director of the Lanterman House museum on Monday, April 9, it will be with a real appreciation for the history of the place — including the famous family who built it as well as those who, over the past quarter-century, have labored to turn the home into a community “jewel.”
“The past 25 years, they’ve had the enormous task of preserving and restoring this house and I think they did it beautifully,” Verlaque said. “The heavy lifting is all done, now my role is to maybe dig a little deeper with some of the details.”
Verlaque spent the past 12 years at the Pasadena Museum of History — from which Melissa Patton, the Lanterman House’s only other permanent executive director, also came.
There, Verlaque served as collections manager and helped found the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration, which sought (along with Pasadena City College and Pasadena Public Library) to make historical photos and documents more accessible to the public.
“I think now is a good time to begin really working on trying to make our archive more accessible to the community [by] digitizing some of our resources,” said Bob Moses, who has served as the Lanterman House’s interim director since September. “Not only does that give more people access to things, but more people can see them without having to physically handle them, which always puts them at risk. That would protect the integrity of the original documents.”
While Verlaque isn’t ready to establish concrete plans before she’s begun, she hopes to take the first six months to start putting together a five-year strategic plan. Beyond digitizing, she said she envisions improving the Lanterman House’s website to try to attract more interest.
And, she said, she’s also eager to engage in its already established traditions, such as those “right-of-passage” school tours that will be ongoing when she steps into the position. She’s also looking forward to meeting members of the community at the annual Summer Whites Picnic on May 27.
“I just think it’s a wonderful place,” said Verlaque, who said she visited the Lanterman House on different occasions while working in Pasadena. “It’s been beautifully preserved. La Cañada Flintridge is so lucky to have this treasure. It’s a terrific community resource.
“Something like the Lanterman House can be so wonderful and do a lot to perpetuate a community’s appreciation for their history. It’s a wonderful peek at the past when you go into it.”
Moses said he’s confident the Lanterman Historical Museum Foundation Board found the right person to continue to care for the home as Patton did so for so many years before retiring last summer.
“We did a pretty thorough search and had several good candidates,” he said. “And we believe we picked the best one.”
For Verlaque, heading a historical home museum feels like a dream fulfilled.
Also formerly a research volunteer at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and vice president of the silver department at Christie’s Fine Arts Auctioneers, Verlaque said she fell for historic homes during an internship at Wilmington’s Rockwood Museum.
“I had my first internship in a historic house the summer after my freshman year in college and that was it,” she said. “I knew that’s really what I wanted to do. And I’ve had a few detours, but for me, coming back and being directly in charge of a historic house is a culmination of a lot of years of hopes and dreams.”

Leave a Reply