Quick! Groupon discount on Gamble House tours

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If your friends haven’t yet turned you on to Groupon, maybe they’re not such great friends.

Groupon is a collective of sorts offering daily deals in various communities, including around Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Today’s deal features the historic Gamble House in Pasadena. Through Groupon, you can now purchase two tickets to a one-hour tour of the Gamble House at Westmoreland Place in Pasadena for only $10, a $25 value. Once you purchase your Groupon, you have until July 7 to redeem. This deal is only good toward the 2 p.m. docent-guided tours, which take place Thursday-Sunday and require a reservation at least one week in advance.

For more details on this deal, log on to the Groupon site and join, if you haven’t already done so.

There’s less than six hours to take advantage of this deal, so get to it and sign up. And don’t forget to spread the word to your true friends.

(Staff file photos)

Ambassador College 1969 yearbook



On the heels of news that a 10-acre portion of the old Ambassador College property has been sold to a builder that plans to start constructing town houses there in 2011, Gawker Media’s women’s blog Jezebel shares this gem: Clips from the college’s 1969 yearbook.

The whole gallery of pages from the yearbook, called the ENVOY, is really worth checking out, particularly the entries on science and technology. Quoth the ENVOY:

“NEVER was the world like it is today! Gigantic leaps ahead in technology and certain sciences — men walking and cavorting about on the moon, yes — BUT, unsafe to walk on sidewalks here on earth. …

The principal contribution of Science and Technology has been the production of constantly more terrifying weapons of mass destruction. Pushbutton world? Yes, today either of two men could push a button and destroy two whole continents, probably ending in the extinction of mankind!”

The liberal-arts college was rooted in the evangelical tradition of the Worldwide Church of God. Its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, preached very non-mainstream beliefs. From a 2003 Star-News article:

Armstrong believed, for instance, that Jesus Christ will return to Earth to assume the throne of England, where he’ll reign in peace and prosperity forever.

He also preached that members earned salvation through their commitment to the Old Testament law. Christ may have died for the sins of the world, he taught, but acceptance of his death wasn’t enough. The believer must also obey Christ. …

Obedience was Armstrong’s key to qualify for God’s grace, and in the former Worldwide Church of God parlance that meant following the rules.

As with Orthodox Jews, members didn’t eat “unclean” things such as pork and shrimp. They observed all the Jewish festivals in the Old Testament and celebrated the Sabbath on Saturdays. Members were discouraged from voting, serving in the military, marrying after a divorce, relying on doctors, using cosmetics, or observing Christmas, Easter or birthdays.

The emphasis on obedience was apparent in some of the headlines from the church’s newsletter.

“HOW YOU DRESS FOR CHURCH Could it keep you out of the KINGDOM?”

“OUR LIGHT IS SHINING! and not the cosmetics on our faces.”

After Armstrong’s death in 1986, the church dropped the controversial teachings.

A report by Janette Williams in tomorrow’s Star-News will have more details of the sale and building plans, which revived what had seemed to be an interminably delayed real-estate development.

(Photo via Jezebel)

UPDATED: Public art in Pasadena: Evaluate or eviscerate?



**UPDATE: Janette Williams will revisit this issue with a story in the Sunday Star-News. Apparently, the Chase Bank is still remodeling its lobby, and there may be no room for the 50-foot Millard Sheets mural. The city is working to find a solution — or a new home for the work of art. More on Sunday.

What in the name of goodness is going on with the threat to murals/public art in Pasadena?

First, Star-News reporter Janette Williams broke the story about the painting over of a 60-foot, city-funded mural on a Northwest Pasadena storefront. The paint had barely dried on the $2,500 work of art before it was gone.

As if that fiasco wasn’t bad enough, now Thal Armathura over at Avenue to the Sky writes that historic Millard Sheets mural panels — inside what is now a Chase Bank at Lake Avenue and Colorado Boulevard — were nearly painted over also:

“We were alerted that Chase Bank at Lake and Colorado, located in what
was Washington Mutual, who inherited art works commissioned by the
Ahmanson Corporation, the owners of Home Savings which was originally
located at this site, were about to do something nefarious to the
Millard Sheets mural panels depicting the Pasadena Tournament of Roses … located on the walls behind the teller area.”

Thankfully, someone tipped off the Cultural Affairs Division:

“Rochelle Branch, of the Pasadena Cultural Affairs Office was alerted to this by an observant Pasadena Library employee, Catherine Haskett-Hany (here from another blogpost: Pasadena Branch @ Lake and Colorado is now being converted to CHASE and they were about to paint over the mural. Stopped by alert Library employee. Cultural Affairs will follow-up to find a new home. Sculpture also).”

Click on over to Avenue to the Sky for more interesting history and links.

Meanwhile, Petrea Burchard at Pasadena Daily Photo does some investigating at the Hen’s Teeth Square shopping center at Los Robles Avenue and Woodbury Road. And she finds a mural that hasn’t been painted over. It’s not a Millard Sheets masterpiece, but it is lovely, and thank goodness, it’s still there!

On that post, Armathura comments with some more background on the shopping center:

“Hen’s Teeth Square, 2053 – 2057 North Los Robles, Pasadena, designed by architect Theodore Pietsch is a designated Pasadena landmark and is reputed to be the first corner drive-in market shopping center in the country, built in 1930. … Hen’s Teeth Square is a monument to our car culture and the cornerstone of our local historic district. The name Hen’s Teeth Square is original to the development and does reflect the rarity of the time of a corner drive-in shopping center.”

(Photo via DLZ127’s Flickr photostream)

Arcadia’s WWII history and the Santa Anita Assembly Center



There’s a new exhibit at the Ruth and Charles Gilb Arcadia Historical Museum that offers up a dark and lesser-known side of the city’s past for examination.

In the 1940s, Arcadia’s Santa Anita Park was the location of a temporary assembly center for Japanese and Japanese Americans, before they were sent to live in internment camps throughout the United States during World War II.

Museum curator Dana Dunn told the Star-News: “You’d be surprised at how many people have no idea that this happened.” From the report by Michelle J. Mills:

Dunn read and was told in interviews that the camp was a clean, organized and a strict place to live. People were told to bring a coat and were allowed few possessions.

“They had the guards up in the towers with guns and barbed wire all around you. You can’t leave and you’re there in the summertime and there’s no insulation in the building,” Dunn said. …

“The one story I hear a lot is about the guards in the tower at night. If you wanted to get up and go to the bathroom, you could do that but the spotlight would hit you, and they’d follow you with the spotlight all the way to the bathroom. You’d go in the bathroom, and when you came out the spotlight was there, and they followed you all the way back,” Dunn said.

There was also an assembly center at Pomona’s Fairplex.

In the photo at top, a child arrives at the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Arcadia. More photos below.

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m. Osamu Miyamoto, Akkiko Nomura and other guests will speak on the Santa Anita Assembly Center.

“Only What We Could Carry: The Santa Anita Assembly Center” runs through Jan. 16. 10 a.m.-4 p.m Tuesday-Saturday. Closed on holidays. Open 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 24 and 31. 380 W. Huntington Drive in Arcadia. Admission is free.

Japanese Americans read a poster ordering them to prepare
to be sent to assembly centers across the United States.
A train leaves the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Arcadia,
headed for one of the relocation centers in the United States.

(Photos courtesy the Arcadia Historical Museum)

Missing-man formation in the skies above Pasadena



Coincidentally, I was location scouting for a photo shoot this morning in Defenders Park next to the Colorado Street Bridge.

I stopped to read the plaques on the monuments in the park, like this one below, a granite structure with unknown origins.


Closest to the intersection of Orange Grove and Colorado is this heliport plaque, honoring Lt. Orrin Russell Fox, who died in World War II. That monument was dedicated in October 1950, on the spot of the city’s heliport. It was moved around a bit, but found its way back close to its original site.


I was heading back to the car when that unmistakable roaring of engines started building overhead. I looked up to see a missing-man formation — North American T-6 Texan aircraft flown by the Condor Squadron of Van Nuys — flying by on its way to make an aerial appearance at the Veterans Day celebration at Memorial Park.

The time was close to 11:11 on 11/11/09. I was just lucky to be in their path.

(Photos by Evelyn Barge / Staff)

Historic Michael White Adobe under threat of demolition in San Marino



An L.A. Times piece yesterday examined the undetermined but almost certainly gloomy fate of the Michael White Adobe in San Marino. The structure is unusually situated on the San Marino High School campus, which sprung up around the adobe.

The intro to the Times’ piece gives you an idea what the high-schoolers think — or think not — of the adobe. (Although, if you read through the whole thing, you’ll see that at least a handful do care about preserving its history.)

“Which way to the Michael White Adobe?
‘The what?’
‘Is that, like, a classroom or something?’
‘I have no idea.'”

The 164-year-old adobe has gone without much care or attention by the school and school district. Last year, school officials proposed removing the adobe so that they might expand the swimming pool that, literally, butts up against it.

“It would cost more than $1 million to move the house and roughly the
same to make it fit for campus use, environmental documents show.

“Knocking down the adobe, the only option covered by the school
district’s insurance, comes with a much lower price tag: $176,000. The
school board is expected to decide the house’s fate Oct. 27 and is
taking public comments through (today).”

You can see from the photos taken early this year how the adobe is enmeshed with the campus in a rather awkward way. (Photos by Walt Mancini / Staff)

RELATED: There will be a story by Janette Williams in tomorrow’s Pasadena Star-News about another historic adobe — this one in Arcadia — that has been crumbling while preservation plans were bogged down for years. The future looks brighter for that structure, the Hugo Reid Adobe, and the push is on to get a restoration underway.



Photo finish: Revisiting the historic Octagon house, formerly of Pasadena



The Times’ Sam Watters, in his Lost L.A. column, digs into the “multidimensional” history of the famed Octagon house:


“Along the Arroyo Seco Parkway from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena is
a collection of 19th century buildings saved from L.A.’s busy wrecking
ball. At Heritage Square, which isn’t a square, you’ll find a house
that isn’t a rectangle. It’s an octagon, built for a family in Pasadena.”

It was built in 1893 by Gilbert Longfellow (and, actually, was not his first construction of an eight-sided home) who ran a family farm that was later taken up and expanded by his son.

After falling into disrepair, the building was moved from Pasadena in 1986 to Heritage Square. In the photo above, the Octagon house is transported down Colorado Boulevard, crossing over Fair Oaks, on Aug. 11, 1986.

It was the second move for the historic structure, which had been relocated the first time in 1917 “to a city lot about a mile north of the farm on Allen Avenue,” according to the Heritage Square Museum Web site.

Writes Watters:

“At the time of the final move, Pasadena Heritage argued that the
Longfellow house should remain in the city of its origin. But the horse
was already out of the octagon; Longfellow’s house should never have
been moved in the first place from the original location on San Pasqual.”

In the color photos above, a renovations specialist puts some finishing touches on the house, 10 years after it was moved to Heritage Square.

You can visit the Octagon house, and many other historic structures, at Heritage Square, 3800 Homer Street, Los Angeles, along the Pasadena Freeway, just north of Dodger Stadium and downtown.

Open every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and most holiday Mondays from 12-5 p.m. From Nov. to March, hours are 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Guided tours of most of the structures depart hourly, from 12-3 p.m., from the Palms Depot. No admittance after the final tour has departed.

Adults, $10; Seniors, $8; Children, 6 to 12, $5. (323) 225-2700

(File photos)

What’s to become of the former YWCA building designed by Julia Morgan?


Curbed LA has obtained renderings for a proposal to restore the historic YWCA building designed by Julia Morgan.

The images come on the heels of a Pasadena Weekly story about the growing movement by city officials and preservationists to breathe life back into the vacant Marengo Avenue property.

The renderings are part of a proposal that was designed by Cal Poly architecture student Milad Sarkis for his master’s thesis. Earlier this year, he presented the plan to the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

As part of his plan, the restored facility would also become a new headquarters for Pasadena Water and Power.

The city hasn’t yet settled on any proposal.

With officials and residents mulling future uses for the YWCA building, we decided to dig through our photo archives for images of the 1920 structure.

At top is a photo by Walt Mancini taken in 2006. The image just below it is also from the same photo shoot, after the crumbling N. Marengo structure was put on Pasadena Heritage’s endangered buildings list.

At the time, there were discussions about developing the property into a boutique hotel. Those plans were scrapped.

Third from top is a historical photo, from the J. Allen Hawkins studio, courtesy of the Pasadena Museum of History.

The bottom three are historic images, re-photographed by Sarah Reingewirtz in Dec. 2008, when the Pasadena YWCA celebrated 102 years in the city.

The YWCA sold the historic Julia Morgan
building for $1 million in 1996.

It’s worth weighing in: What would you like to see happen in a restoration of the YWCA building?