Present-day Point Loma Nazarene University campus was first established as an educational site by the Theosophical Society of America and has been occupied since by Balboa University, California Western College, and United States International University.
Madame Katherine Tingley built her “Lomaland” as a “School of the Revival of Lost Mysteries of Antiquity.” Children of the community all studied music, drama and military drill along with the usual academic subjects in their Raja Yoga school.
The “Purple Mother” (as Madame Tingley came to be called, because of her fondness for the color) attracted an assembly of musicians, painters, authors and philosophers that dazzled San Diegans. Lomaland’s outdoor Greek Amphitheatre, the first Greek Theatre in America, was built in 1901 and still offers a spectacular setting for dramatic and musical presentations. Greek and Shakespearean dramas, including As You Like It, Twelfth Night and Midsummer Night’s Dream, were open to the public and received favorable reviews in the San Diego newspapers.
With debates and the lectures and the concerts and her indoor staging of Greek drama, Tingley decided in 1902 to stop renting the Fisher Opera House downtown and just buy it, for $70,000. She contracted with peripatetic Jack Dodge to manage the house and, when she didn’t need it, perhaps turn a profit.
There was scarcely a missed beat between the last show at the Fisher — the Collamarini-Repetto Grand Opera Concert Company — and the debut of the theater renamed Isis (for the Egyptian goddess) with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
The Isis building also held a music academy for Raja Yoga students and the studios of Maurice Braun (1877-1941), who would become a major name in San Diego art circles.
[history by Welton Jones, critic for the San Diego Union-Tribune]
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