The History of the Tweedt Family Home in Idyllwild, CA

EPSON MFP image  Prints from Jim & Audrey Photo Albums.  Scanned by Brian Tweedt & corrected 7/2014.

The Tweedt family has a long history in the town of Idyllwild, CA.  After many trips up the the town for camping and visiting, George Elmer Tweedt (1887-1971) and his wife May Etna (Hollaway) Tweedt (1894-1991) fell in love with the small town and bought a large piece of land for $500.  Being in the construction business, George had many resources at his disposal.  Legend has it that just before the July 4 holiday weekend in 1926, George brought his entire crew up and built a house on the property over the weekend.  That's right.  In one weekend.  Though this legend can't be totally verified, we can see from page 2 of the original log book entry that the house did have its first guest (and celebration steak dinner) on July 4, 1926.

Throughout the years, the family enjoyed horseback riding, hiking, horseshoes, camping and getting away from the greater Los Angeles area.  Keep in mind, getting to Idyllwild from L.A. in the 1920's meant a long drive up a treacherous one lane mountain road (with the last car in a caravan handing off a flag to let the traffic the other way know it was safe to head down).

But the drive was worthwile.  George and his wife, known as Lady May, would spend a great deal of time at the house, especially in the summers.  They brought their three children with them.  Eleanor, James (Jim), and Marjorie (Marge) who grew up loving the place.

As George and Lady May grew older, the responsibilities of the house were passed on to the three kids.  The house then took the nickname El JAMAR (an acronym for Eleanor James and Marge).

After Eleanor's passing and Marge's move to the Miami, Florida, area, the house was passed down to to James Elmer Tweedt (1921-2013) and his wife Audrey Bernice (Dodd) Tweedt (1922-2016).  James & Audrey enjoyed the house with their four children, Terry, Ken, Linda, and Erik.  The house was maintained, and a few additions were made, including the "back porch" area, but most notably, filling in the lofted area of the home to create a second story with additional living space.

As they began to get on in years and were visiting EL JAMAR less and less, they passed the house down to their eldest son, Terry James Tweedt (b. 1944) and his wife Carol Henderson (Baggs) Tweedt (b. 1946) who were using the house more often with their growing children, Brian James Tweedt (b. 1976), and Heidi Kirsten Tweedt (b. 1978).

It was during this time in the late 1980's that a renewed interest in the home took place, as Terry and his family began to visit more regularly.  Clyde and Pat Gibson, friends who once lived near Terry & Carol in Orange County, had recently moved to Idyllwild.  So Terry & Carol were able to drive up the hill and play bridge with them on weekends.  Brian & Heidi also enjoyed taking their friends up with them to visit the property, and they began to enjoy sledding as they entered their early teenage years, creating the ficticious Busted' Buns Sled Resort and recording numerous sledding and "BigFoot" videos.

But by the late 1990's, the house was showing its years.  Parts of the floor were becoming uneven, the kitchen was in need of a huge remodel, and there were too few room to accommodate the number of guests that they would have liked to invite.  Terry & Carol initially wanted to see if they could possibly re-level the house and then make a full second story addition.  Architectural plans were even drawn for this addition.  But after having the home professionally inspected by an engineer, it was deemed not structurally sound enough to hold the weight of a second story.  The only choice was to leave it as it was and continue to let it fall apart, or build a new house from the ground up.

So in 2001, after much deliberation and soul searching, Carol Tweedt and Terry Tweedt (the Grandson of George E. Tweedt who built the original cabin) hired famed local architect Dennis McGuire to design a new home for the site.

EL JAMAR was torn down the week of September 20, 2002, to make way for the new home.  Construction began in October 2002, and the home was completed on July 14, 2004.  That's just over 78 years after the first home was completed.


But Glowing Lantern is a significantly different home from the "cabin" that was "built in a weekend" in 1926.  The new house features 3 bedrooms/3 baths, a master bath jacuzzi, a private 4K projection theater (which can also be used as a bedroom), a small black and white darkroom, a large basement/workshop, as well as a state of the art kitchen which is open to the main dining and living room.  And one of the main features is a "floating" staircase that leads you up to the top floor.  (For more architectural details on the home, please view the architecture section of this site).

The house was dubbed "Glowing Lantern" by Carol Tweedt after seeing a picture of the home at night, as it looks like a "little glowing lantern."

This modern marvel provides a significantly more luxurious experience compared to the previous home.  And it is the hope that this new home can continue to provide more memories for future generations of Tweedt's and their friends in Idyllwild.

EXPLORE THe photos

Take a look at photos from the 1920's to present day in our photo archive.  From the early days of camping on the property, to bringing the Toastmaster's club to visit, to horseback riding, hiking, to playing bridge, and to sledding -- You can see the generations of Tweedt family members and their friends enjoy the property and the town of Idyllwild, California.


Building History Poster Top


This 35-minute documentary tells the history of the Tweedts in Idyllwild, and then focuses on the decision to build a new home on the property, showing the demolition, the construction process, and finally the new home.

The film is narrated by Terry and Carol Tweedt and includes architect Dennis McGuire as he lays out his design philosophy and walks the audience through the design and construction of Glowing Lantern.


From 8mm Film to 4K Video, plenty of footage has been taken at the property over the years.  This comprehensive film & video archive showcases the moments in time... As well as a lot of sledding!

And if you would like to watch the infamous "BigFoot" videos, recorded in the late 1980's and early 1990's, click below!