Friday, February 8, 2008

It Was Something Special

"I've had a long love affair with that house."

I hope one of yesterday's commenters, Palm Axis, won't mind being quoted. Before October of 2005, all of Pasadena gazed lovingly at the place while crossing the bridge or walking in the Arroyo. Yesterday I showed you the gate house with its windows boarded up. Here's what was left of the mansion after the fire. Even this is gone now. Only remnants of stairways, railings and stone walls remain. Still, we gaze.

The architect of this departed beauty, Paul Revere Williams, was himself something special. Among the many treasures he left us are the Shrine Auditorium (for which he helped prepare drawings in his early career), the Beverly Hills Hotel and over 2,000 private homes, many designed for the movie stars of his day.

Williams, who was African American, is said to have "remarked upon the bitter irony of the fact that most of the homes he designed...were on parcels whose deeds included segregation covenants barring blacks from purchasing them." (Quoth Wikipedia.) To learn more about Williams, read this fascinating article by Jennifer Reese.

Alas, I did not take this photo. It was snapped by contributor Dave Thomson (note where it says "award winning photographer"). Dave also took the PDP January 23rd photo, Bad Stunt Weather. Dave lives in Sun Valley, but he just can't stay away from Pasadena. I live here, but I don't walk my dog in the Arroyo nearly as much as he does. More of Dave's interests here. And speaking of something special, many thanks for the great photo.

(click photo to enlarge)


Jana said...

What a shame. That must have been an amazing home.

Jim said...

It is sad to see the remains of any burned out house. However, the picture did lead me to read about Mr. Williams and Mr. Thomson.

Petrea said...

Jana: Yes, it was really a showplace.

Jim: That's one of the things I love about the blog: I don't always know where the photo will take me, but when I do a bit of research I learn so much. I had already known a bit about Dave, but learning about Paul Revere Williams made this a special post for me.

Strangetastes said...

Thank you for your very kind comment on my post yesterday. Flattery will get you everywhere. I think that the writing is as important as the photography for CDPBs and I'm glad that you enjoy my comments.

Your photo today is like a little picture of Buddha, reminding us of impermanence. There is no place free of the risk of natural disaster. You have wildfires and earthquakes. We have violent thunderstorms, the odd tornado and the threat of a really big earthquakes someday. These things sneak up from behind and crumble our sense of security. Southern California seems a little scarier than St. Louis to me. I mean, you're going to run out of water one day, aren't you?

There was a tragedy of a different kind in St. Louis Thursday night. I just took some pictures of the aftermath and I hope to have a post on the subject in the next couple of hours.

Dorothée said...

Waht a fabulous mansion it must have been! I love this picture and the story behind. It's quite touching and romantic. Even as a ruin, it still is very beautiful and Yes, very special.

Petrea said...

Dorothee, thanks.

Strangetastes, I commented on your blog. Excellent post, again. As a writer myself, I value that part of your blog.

I grew up in northern Illinois. Yes, California's going to run out of water but you're going to freeze to death, so it's a toss-up.