Pasadena, of course, is well known as the city of Roses, the annual Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl. What many people don’t realize is that Pasadena California could easily be called an Arts & Crafts Capital of the United States.
In this post, I wanted to break down Pasadena by its lovely neighborhoods and to give you an idea of the architectural styles and highlights in each.
Bungalow Heaven is Pasadena’s first Landmark District. It has many different architectural styles, but locals mainly know it due to its abundance of California Bungalows that were built between 1900 to 1930s.
Many of the bungalows here were built from kits – often at a cost of $1,000 – and delivered to Californians eager to build the low-slung, often single-story homes with the deep verandas and overhanging eaves that protect them form California’s powerful sunshine.
There are so many beautiful bungalows here that it’s impossible to point out just one or two. Take a walk through the neighborhood and explore it yourself.
Bungalow Heaven is located between Washington Blvd (north) and Orange Grove (South) , Lake Avenue (West) and Hill (East)
Garfield Heights is Pasadena’s second official Landmark District. It’s an eclectic area of Craftsman bungalows to historic two and four unit apartments. Most of these homes were built from the late 19th century to the 1920s. Note the distinctive architectural features like pillars, retaining walls, foundations – made of river rock.
Bates House (1920)
1290 North Marengo Avenue
This U-shaped house was designed by Glen Elwood Smith, one of Pasadena’s highly regarded residential architects of his era.
The Gerlach House (1913)
985 North Los Robles Avenue
A beautifully sited Sylvanus Marston design. Note the deep shade provided by the graciously proportioned veranda.
The Gilmore House (1891)
1247 North Garfield Avenue
A Neoclassical house by Roehrig and Locke. Frederick Roehrig was also the architect of Castle Green.
In late 2007, city of Pasadena has unanimously approved Historic Highlands as a Landmark Distirct. It’s about time since this area has some of the most beautiful craftsman homes in Pasadena.
Historic Highlands Neighborhood website has this to share about the Historic Highlands history:
What is known today as the Historic Highlands encompasses the estates and land holdings of two prominent Pasadena pioneers: David MacPherson, former Santa Fe Railroad design engineer of the famed Mt. Lowe railroad; Ezra Dane, an orchardist who settled here in 1883.
Ezra Dane crossed the plains from Massachusetts sometime between 1849 and 1852 and settled in Sonora County in Northern California where he became a prosperous farmer. Driven from the area by an out break of malaria in the early 1880’s, he moved his family to Pasadena in 1883 where he purchased 160 acres in the San Pasqual Rancho area, known as “the place where every tree is pleasant to the sight and good for food” and began planting orchards.
In 1885, Dane and his wife Lois built their substantial ranch home from the first lumber brought to Pasadena by steam locomotive. From the house known for many years as “Sunnyridge on the Highlands”, Dane oversaw orchard and livestock operations on his land, which stretched north from Washington to Woodbury Road and east from Holliston to a point midway between modern day Mar Vista and
Catalina. He grew peaches, apricots, prunes and citrus, and raised some livestock – including about a hundred hogs – on Elizabeth Street. A driveway from Washington to his home was lined with a double row of palm trees still visible in the backyards of homes between Michigan and Chester.
As Pasadena grew north and east, homes were being built all around the ranch so the Danes began selling their land a parcel at a time. In 1912, they subdivided the land immediately adjacent to the ranch house, creating building lots on Holliston, Chester, Michigan, Mar Vista, Denver (now Howard) and Rio Grande. The lots were sold to members of Pasadena’s prosperous business and professional class who had substantial
homes custom built on the large lots during the ensuing decades. Ezra and Lois Dane lived in the home until their deaths in the early 1920’s. Their daughter Alice and later her grandson and his family lived in the home.
MacPherson owned much of the land bordered by New York Drive on the north and Washington Blvd. on the south, in what is now the western part of the neighborhood. The east/west streets were given names of the railroads: Atchison, Topeka, Santa Fe (now Elizabeth), Denver (now Howard), and Rio Grand. The names Catalina and MarVista acknowledge the great view of the ocean at that time. MacPherson built a home at 1075 Topeka in 1906 and was living at 1120 Atchison at the time of his death.
MacPherson teamed with famous entrepreneur Thaddeus Lowe to design and build the Echo Mountain Incline Railway which made its first official trip on July 4th, 1893. Four million visitors enjoyed the breathtaking views and fresh mountain air for more than 40 years until the railway stopped operating in 1937.
Midwest. Indeed, the Prairie style home is quite at home next to the California Bungalow. Both share honest craftsmanship and find inspiration in the simplicity and beauty of nature. True to the craftsman ethic of using locally found materials, locally grown oak and Douglas fir are used throughout the homes in Historic Highlands, as well as art tile from Southern California’s artisan community. River rock has commonly been used for foundations and chimneys, and likely came from the Arroyo Seco. Craftsman and Prairie homes were reactions to the industrialization and heavy, non-functional ornamentation of Victorians.
The architectural details in the homes of Historic Highlands find inspiration from all over the world. Influential local architects Greene & Greene were inspired by the Japonaiserie movement when they visited the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893. In the 1920’s, American architecture was influenced by both European and early American architecture. Not necessarily faithful reproductions, Period revival homes liberally borrowed attractive or romanticized elements. The European flair of Period revival homes suggested the culture and prestige of its residents. Furthermore, in Southern California, Period revival movements represent a reaction against the dark organic interiors of the Craftsman style in favor of brightly lit and open rooms. Colonial revival reflects national pride and became popular following the country’s 1876 Centennial. Similarly, the Mission revival style recognizes early California’s cultural heritage and was popularized following the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego in 1915.
Today Historic Highlands is a combination of many different architectural styles and cultures.
The Historic Highlands Neighborhood straddles the borders of Pasadena and Altadena, situated between New York Blvd. on the North, Washington Blvd. on the South, Lake Ave. on the West, and Hill Ave. on the East.
LOWER ARROYO SECO & SAN RAFAEL
In 1940s, the housing shortage in Pasadena led to the development of the San Rafael area and new residences were built that reflected the upper middle class and very wealthy families.
Colorado Street Bridge (1912-1913)
This is one of the most graceful and beautiful bridges in the area. This curving bridge is made out of reinforced concrete. It was restored in the 1990s and spans nearly 1,500 feet. It connects Old Pasadena to the San Rafael Hills and Eagle Rock.
Vista del Arroyo Hotel (1920)
125 S. Grand Avenue.
The federal government acquired this Sylvanus Marston designed resort hotel to use as a military hospital. It is now used as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
La Casita del Arroyo (1933)
177 S Arroyo Blvd.
Designed by Myron Hunt at no charge, this structure was built using Arroyo stone and lumber from bicycle tracks built at the Rose Bowl for the 1932 Olympics.
Batchelder House (1909)
626 S Arroyo Blvd.
Ernest Batchelder is a famed artisan known around Pasadena for his beautiful decorative tiles around the fireplaces. These tiles became emblematic of the Arts & Crafts movement. Batchelder’s kiln remains in the backyard of this lovely home, and the discerning viewer can see examples of his tile work from the street.
Wrigley Mansion (1911)
391 S Orange Grove Avenue
This ornate mansion built for the chewing-gum mogul William Wringley, who controlled the development of Catalina island. It is now home to Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses.
A great neighborhood right next to the South Lake Avenue District. It has a strongand has an annual 4th of July parade and other family oriented activities.
The neighborhood was laid out in the 19th century, and the oldest house still standing dates from 1890. Some of the origins of our street names go back to this era. The most prominent is El Molino Avenue, named for Col. E. J. C. Kewen’s El Molino Ranch with its “old mill of the padres.”
Euclid Avenue was opened in 1885 by C. M. Skellen who took the name from Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. Glenarm Street was named by Thomas Banbury after his wife’s hometown in Canada. Los Robles Avenue was named after Governor George Stoneman’s ranch which was at the southern extremity of the road. Oakland Avenue originally did not extend south of California. It was named after the City of Oakland and the street was also lined with oak trees. The section of the street in Madison Heights was originally called Eastern Avenue.
The original “Madison Avenue Heights” subdivision consisting of 63 lots was opened in July, 1906. Lots were priced from $1,500 and carried a stipulation that homes to be built should cost at least $3,000.
The Madison Heights neighborhood was largely developed between 1910 and 1917. It consisted of family homes of professional people. A number of architects and contractors who worked in the neighborhood also lived here. Many early residents subdivided their lots to build homes for their grown children. To this day, it’s common for multiple generations of a family to own separate homes in the neighborhood.
Allendale Branch Library (1920s)
1130 S. Marengo Aven.
At the southern border of Madison Heights, this adobe structure is currently a Pasadena Public Library branch as well as a school library for Allendale Elementary School. Built as an isolation hospital for patients with infectious diseases, it became a library in 1951.
Heineman-designed House (1911)
885 S El Molino Ave.
This Craftsman home was designed by Arthur S. Heineman.
E.J. Blacker House (1912)
675 S. Madison Ave.
This Craftsman home was built a few years later than the Blacker House, it’s grander Oak Knoll neighbor to the South.
Once the site of a sheep ranch owned by Henry Huntington, this neighborhood began its life before the turn of the 20th century featuring many grand estates. These estates were built to showcase the lovely native oaks growing in the area. The most famous estate in the area would be the former Ritz Carlton, now Langham Hotel & Spa.
Oak Knoll boasts the architecture of the famous Greene & Greene brothers, Sylvanus Marston and Wallace Neff.
If you have an opportunity to visit Oak Knoll make sure to drive by these estates:
Langham Hotel, formerly known as Ritz-Carlton (built in 1906 and rebuilt in 1991)
1401 S. Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena
Originally opened as the Hotel Wentworth in 1907 and repurchased by San Marino tycoon Henry Huntington, who had it redesigned by Myron Hunt. It reopened as a resort destination in 1914 and came to represent Pasadena’s elite good life.
Blacker House (1907)
1177 Hillcrest Avenue, Pasadena
One of the crowning achievements of Greene & Greene architecture along with the Gamble House. It is privately held and was meticulously restored to its previous glory.
1330 Hillcrest Avenue, Pasadena
A craftsman designed by Arthur S. Heineman. Heineman was the designer of the first motor hotel, and is said to have coined a term “motel” for motor hotel.
Dome House (1946)
1097 S Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena
A Wallace Neff design. Neff experimented with concrete structures as part of his on-going interest in building affordable housing. Dome House represents an example of his “bubble” construction.
OLD PASADENA HISTORIC DISTRICT (OLD TOWN PASADENA)
Old Town is Pasadena’s original business district that began at the intersection of Fair Oaks Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. Newly revitalized, Old Town is one of Southern California’s leading destinations. It has pedestrian-friendly streets, designer boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants.
Norton Simon Museum (1969)
411 W. Colorado Blvd.
The Norton Simon Museum is on the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado Blvd at the beginning of Old Town as you exit the Colorado Street Bridge. It was designed by the architectural firm of Ladd & Kelsey. The art museum’s interior was renovated by Frank Gehry from 1996 to 1999.
Hotel Green (1898)
Currently known as Castle Green, this was the second building of a lavish 19th-century resort built in the Moorish style for wealthy Easterners who came to California during winter months to enjoy our moderate climate. The enclosed bridge that now ends at a small tower once crossed Raymond to connect with the first building in the hotel’s complex. Architect for Hotel Green was Frederick Roehrig.
Pasadena City Hall (1927)
100 N. Garfield Avenue
Pasadena City Hall just underwent an extensive seismic retrofitting. It’s a great example of the Mediterranean style and was translated to fit its California setting by the San Francisco architectural firm of Bakewell and Brown. The impressive circular tower rises six stories and is topped by a dome which is in turn topped by a cupola that is finally topped by an urn and ball.
Former Santa Fe Railway Station, 1935
222 South Raymond Avenue
Architect: H. C. Gilman
Chamber of Commerce Building, 1906
117 East Colorado Boulevard
Architects: Parkinson & Bergstrom
Kinney-Kendall Building, 1897
65 East Colorado Boulevard
Charles & Henry Greene
Friend Paper Co., 1965
100 West Green Street
Architects: Smith & Williams
Once known as “Pill Hill”, because of the large number of physicians and care givers who lived in the neighborhood, Orange Heights has always been at the heart of Pasadena’s civic life. Some of the city’s most prominent citizens have lived here, attracted by the beautiful architecture, terraced yards, tree lined streets, and mountain views.
Orange Heights has been added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. It is bounded to the West by Los Robles Avenue, to the East by El Molino Avenue, to the North by Jackson Street, and to the South by Mountain Boulevard.
Although Pasadena has grown and changed during the last century, Orange Heights still appears today much as it did over eighty years ago.
Information on Orange Heights can be found at it its neighborhood website – www.orangeheights.org
Prospect Park is a tiny neighborhood just North of the 134 Freeway and West of 210 – where the two freeways meet and is off of Orange Grove and Prospect Blvd. This area was designated as a housing development in 1906 and had Sylvanus Marston clinker-brick portals on Orange Grove at Prospect Boulevard. Beautiful and mature camphor trees create a shady arch over the wide boulevard as you enter from Orange Grove. This neighborhood showcases a collection of Greene & Greene houses, the Gamble House and Frank Lloyd Wright’s La Miniatura.
Gamble House (1908)
4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena
Called a Gamble House because it was built for David and Mary Gamble of, yes… you guessed it, Proctor & Gamble fame.
Alice Millard House (La Miniatura) (1923)
645 Prospect Crescent, Pasadena
This home was built by Frank Lloyd Wright for Alice Millard after the death of her husband, rare book dealer George Millard. This home is an example of concrete-block construction. La Miniatura’s Mayan-influenced design is acclaimed by many as Wright’s most interesting work.
Hindry House (1909)
781 Prospect Avenue, Pasadena
Arthur and Alfred Heineman designed this elaborate home without the benefit of formal architectural training.
Charles Sumner Greene House (1901)
368 Arroyo Terrace
This is Charles Greene’s own Craftsman home. He made several additions to this home over the years.
If you would like more information on walking tours of Pasadena or historical background, I highly recommend that you get a copy of Hometown Pasadena – The Insider’s Guide (www.prospectparkbooks.com.) It has a lot of wonderful information and history about Pasadena and surrounding cities.
Read More: Pasadena Real Estate Market Report