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History of Tucker

Benjamin and Dorothy May Tucker
Benjamin and Dorothy May Tucker
In 1926 Benjamin Tucker, a prominent banker and philanthropist from Long Beach, California, and his wife Dorothy May, began construction of a home in Modjeska Canyon. Their 12 acres of land was once a part of Arden, the home of world famous actress, Helena Modjeska. Dorothy christened their new home "Oakwood", for the abundant Live Oaks and their natural shade. The Tuckers fell in love with the flora and fauna of the canyon, especially the birds.

Ben's Workshop
Ben's Workshop
Almost immediately, Mr. Tucker began taking steps to increase the bird population at Oakwood. He experimented with feeding stations to encourage hummingbirds to stay year-round rather than a few weeks during their migration between Mexico and British Columbia. His first attempt at a hummingbird feeder was no more than a test tube tied with red ribbons. Mr. Tucker then created several versions of small feeders including small glass jars covered with perforated tin tops, a feeder fashioned from a gourd, and eventually, crystal quart containers.
Oakwood Sign
Oakwood Sign
By 1929, Mr. Tucker was so successful at attracting birds that local newspapers told stories of hummingbirds sitting on his hat. Around this time the Tucker's decided that everyone should be able to enjoy the birds and they opened their "bird porch" to the public. Mr. Tucker is credited with being the West Coast inventor of hummingbird feeders.

After the passing of Dorothy, Mr. Tucker donated Oakwood to the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society as a place of research, education, and public enjoyment. The Audubon Society maintained the "wild Bird Sanctuary" until 1968, when the facility was deeded to California State University, Fullerton.

Arden

Madame Modjeska
Madame Modjeska
In 1888, world-renowned Shakespearean actress Madame Helena Modjeska purchased 1340 acres in what came to be known as Modjeska Canyon. She hired famed architect Stanford White to design her new home, named Arden for the forest setting in Shakespeare's play "As You Like It". The house became a gathering place for artists, writers, singers, and actors, both local and international. The centerpiece of the house was the large paneled library with space for her extensive collection of theater memorabilia, books, and works of art. She planted gardens, olive and citrus groves, raised horses, cattle, and farm crops, and maintained a large apiary. In her autobiography, Madame Modjeska wrote, “All our improvements had for their main object not to spoil what nature had provided…It was really a very peaceful retreat, far from the turmoil of the world”

For more information, visit: http://www.ocparks.com/modjeskahouse/

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