Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation

Protecting and Preserving All Life -- By Extending Human Vision

Ansel Adams, Arsonist

I learned it was an 'open secret' that Ansel had torched the Pillsbury Studio from Fred Smart, a fellow activist, who knew one of Adam's helpers.  Fred reported that the fellow said they made jokes about it.  

Dad had finally decided shortly before his death he had to let Virginia know he was no longer going to keep silent on what he had confronted her and Ansel with in 1928.  Dad took keeping his word seriously and believed, with all sincerity, the two of them had been truthful.  He did not realize they had lied until close to the end of his life.  

As you read the Adams Time Line you see he was working part time for Arthur C. Pillsbury and had few prospects for a career from 1917 - 1927.  He was not emotionally normal.  

His motive for setting the fire in the Pillsbury Studio was the opportunity this opened to him for a career for which he was otherwise unprepared.  His marriage to Virginia Rose Best came about because she needed an in-house photographer to enable her to keep the studio which she would inherit from her father, Harry Best.  

By 1926 Mather was confident he would be able to make the National Parks economically viable by extracting money from concessionaires and using the profits from middle-class hospitality to pay for the five star destinations, such as the Ahwahnee, he would build for his fellow elites. 

Mather persuaded J. Desmond to become the president of the company in which he held a hefty interest.  This was self-dealing, a felony. The cost of building multiple luxury destinations bankrupted the Desmond Company. Later, the newly named Desmond Company would merge with the Curry Company, wrested from the hands of Foster Curry after Mather caused the death of its founder, Foster's father, David Curry.  Don Tresidder married Mary Curry in 1920 to effect the theft of the company.  Tresidder oversaw the merger and became the Baron of Yosemite, doing Mather's will. 

Setting the fire would set Adams up for life, with Albright continuing the cover-up until his death in 1987 and others then taking up the work Albright had undertaken to satisfy his own lust for power and profits.   Benefits flowed to Adams like the waters of the Hetch-Hetchy flowed into the pockets of the power brokers in San Francisco.  Adams had found his spiritual home with them.  

The next generations of the Adams family continued the Cover-Up to protect the unearned reputation created for them for environmental concerns and to hold onto the unearned wealth stolen from Pillsbury.  It was work generations of the family were capable of carrying out.  .  

​                                 The Real Ansel Adams   

Ansel Easton Adams - 1920, working for Arthur C. Pillsbury, who took the photo.

Adams Time Line

Parmelian Prints