After I complained in my column about how much the sight of the awnings promoting businesses no longer there made me, and other passersby who had mentioned it to me, miss South Raymond Avenue’s Braley Building — La Fornaretta, the Pasadena Antique Mall, Moji’s — the Church of Scientology, which has owned the building for two years, asked me over to show that it’s finally taken the awnings down.
Good job. But Pasadena branch church President Eden Stein also noted that when I expressed fear that criticizing the famously thin-skinned church might earn me a snake in my mailbox, I was thinking of retribution meted out by Synanon, not the Hubbard-founded Narconon. No relation between the two. I stand corrected.
After staffer Janette Williams then wrote a story about widespread Old Pas concern about the building, which has been empty for over a year and is looking weathered and disused in the midst of the otherwise bustling district, the church says it has kicked into high gear, and will have plans for a renovation within a few weeks and expects to begin work by the end of the year and to complete it by March 2009. Eden showed me photos of similar historic buildings taken over by the church in Madrid, San Francisco, Milan and London. They look good. Not that they probably have really good Sicilian-style pizza joints in them.
The Scientologists couldn’t say whether the new churchy place would include an educational diorama version of the mansion on South Orange Grove Boulevard where in the 1940s church founder L. Ron Hubbard lived with JPL rocket scientist John Parsons , the Aleister Crowley protege. They didn’t know if the house is still extant. Or perhaps it’s this one, pictured in a front window of the Braley Building, reflecting the Vandervort Building across the street: