Did you know there’s a museum literally a stone’s throw from the 2 freeway that houses the collected artifacts of a man some say might have been the real-life inspiration for Indiana Jones?
The adventurer in question was named Antonia Futterer, and he begin his quest for religious relics after a near-death experience while digging for gold in Australia transformed his beliefs (aka, he had a religious epiphany) and sent his life on an entirely new path. In 1926 he even traveled to Israel / Palestine on a search for the Ark of the Covenant (hence the Indiana Jones comparison).
Eventually, he brought his passion for religious studies to Los Angeles, along with his collection of relics, which are still housed today in what is known as the Holyland Exhibit in Silver Lake.
Check the video up top for more on Futterers’ life and the history of Holyland.
Also, by way of background, here’s an excerpt from Drew Tewksbury’s piece on Futterer for KCET:
“Some even say he (Futterer) was the inspiration for the character of Indiana Jones. While he never found the Ark, his collection is expansive. It includes ornate furniture from Syria, antique oil lamps, and even a centuries-old Egyptian sarcophagus. Five rooms display lavish tapestries, Armenian ceramics, and some kitschy souvenirs he picked up along the way. In 1924, he opened his collection — then called the Palestine Exhibition — to people of all faiths with the goal of bringing a bit of the Middle East to Los Angeles.”
Today the house and relics left behind are maintained by Betty Shepard and her daughter Karen. Public tours tours are offered daily.
As for legacy, I suppose there are lots of ways one could classify Futterer. Eclectic adventurer. Religious zealot. Crazy dude. However you perceive him, what’s undeniable is that what he left behind is just another piece of the amazing tapestry of personalities and culture that make Los Angeles truly special.
More information on the Holyland House