Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Altadena has some interesting ruins, at least temporarily. Though not exactly ancient, they go back a few years.

These are the remains (or were, a few days ago) of the Washington Mutual Building that succumbed to fire last February. A crew is in the process of cleaning the site. The remains won't remain for long.

An interesting post from Altadena Above It All from the day of the fire comes with a comment stating that the building once housed "Altadena Federal" in the 50's and 60's, a locally-owned savings and loan. I was able to find a Google blurb from 1962 about said Savings & Loan, but the link led nowhere. Old news, I guess.

I also found a more recent survey on Stonehill News, polling locals about whether or not they'd like to see the adjacent Ralph's Grocery store expand onto the soon-to-be-cleared WaMu property. Nothing personal, but that Ralph's is depressing. Central/western Altadena could use a better grocery store. So the enthusiastic survey responses are no surprise. At one time, everyone thought there was going to be a "Super Ralph's" on that spot. What happened? All I could find were a couple of blurbs on a couple of websites, essentially saying the same thing: the deal fell through because the landowner was asking for too much money.

I wonder how easy it'll be for that landowner to find a buyer now?


Hilda said...

Is that slate on the stone arch? If it is, can I get the arch? :)

Good luck to the owner. He's going to need it now.

Vanda said...

I'd just keep it as it is, call it ancient Roman ruins and herd in the tourists... What do you mean there are no Roman ruins in the US?

Dina said...

Wow ruins of your own! Welcome to the club. ;)

Petrea said...

Hi Hilda! It could be slate. I'll see what I can do for you. That is, unless we institute Vanda's idea. They do look ancient, sort of.

Thanks, Dina. All this time I've been thinking I need to move to the Middle East, and we have archaeological treasures right here. How about that.

Bibi said...

A bit of foreshadowing that WaMu succombed to a devastating fire last February. WaMu's not in good shape now either. The way you photographed the doorway does make it look ancient!

Trish said...

That Ralphs has always sucked. Had a friend who worked there while in college---no one wanted to shop there, but some folks had no choice. Most businesses went in with the idea of helping, changing, improving and later left, or did not upgrade stores because they could not make headway.

T'was an Altadena Federal Savings in the early 50's according to what my grandad used to say.

It was remodeled and became Republic Federal Savings and a sister branch was built on the NE corner of Allen Ave and Washington Blvd.

Altadena, CA Founded in 1955, acquired by Weyerhaeuser in 1969 (Los Angeles Times, Sept. 26, 1985, p. B8; and Sucher, 1971). Became part of Weyerhaeuser Financial Services. Had fifteen branches and $920 million in deposits in Southern California (Weyerhaeuser 1987 Annual Report).

In 1993, Republic Federal Savings and Loan was sold and closed (Virgin, Jan. 7, 1993

altadenahiker said...

Much as I love my adopted hometown, it has the shittiest downtown of all the local foothill areas. Absolutely charmless, just a step or two from urban blight. Why? There's a rich history here. But the main street is littered with gas stations, liquor stores, billboards, and an ugly-ass supermarket. Yuck.

Susan C said...

Who knew we had our own Stonehenge in Altadena.

AH is right about Altadena having a charmless downtown. The exceptions on Lake and Lake adjacent are:

- Webster's
- Altadena Hardware (which I just read is closing)
- The Coffee Gallery
- Bulgarini Gelato
- Pastries by Nancy

I'm sorry that I can't recommend Amy's Patio, in spite of Petrea's positive review a few weeks ago.

Petrea said...

Oh yeah, Bibi, WaMu's not only "not in good shape," it barely exists, having been purchased by JPMorgan. But we were in the process of closing our account long before that happened due to the appalling customer service.

Trish, seems WaMu eventually bought both those locations, am I right?

Karin, I was going to say something about cute, teeny shops along Lake PLUS Altadena Hardware. Then I read Susan C.'s comment.

Altadena Hardware's closing? What a heartbreaker! That's one of the sweetest stores in the San Gabriel Valley. Where'd you read it?

I agree on your other choices, Susan, though I don't know Nancy's. Where is it? I still like Amy's. Never had a bad meal there. But I guess that's controversial.

altadenahiker said...

Not Altadena Hardware! I really like that place and go there regularly. As for the rest of Susan's and Petrea's picks, yes, I'll agree. But that's only a few stores to hang your hat on. Where is the urban planner for Altadena? Nancy's and Gelato are charming, but their buildings aren't. And pro or con Amy's, at least they spiffed up that corner.

JT said...

Altadena needs a village/shopping area like Sierra Madre. I used to live on Concha, west of Lake. I know that area is a "transition neighborhood" and has so much potential! Pump some cash into a well-designed master plan and we could have a mini "Old Altadena."

JT said...

Great shot BTW! The angle gives it a post wrecking ball, romanesque look. Very cool.

Christie said...

Times are a'changin'! Sometimes for the better, but not always. We have some "development" around here, some that has been here for over 10 years that local people won't shop at because it used to be a field and they were offended that the big store came in. Unfortunately, we live in such a litigious society that all the big store had to do was threaten a lawsuit and the township folded since they didn't have enough $$ to defend it. Sad, no?

Susan C said...

I can't remember where I read about Altadena Hardware closing. Was it Monica Hubbard's Altadena e-news? Just last week the owner spent ten minutes with me helping me find the right size screws for a project. Cost: 35 cents.

AH, you're right about the Bulgarinia and Nancy's plaza being ugly. Amy's, as Petrea points out, is at least eye pleasing, if not tummy pleasing. The croissant tasted like it came from a box of hermetically sealed baked goods (i.e. Costco). I should go back for breakfast.

Cafe Observer said...

The Ruins of Altadena. Great, Petrea! Thanks 4 this shot.

Gee, it sounds Altadena is truly in ruins after reading all these comments. Where's Tim the Altadena Blogger for de defense?

I've always felt AD was kinda nice & special in an uncomfortable way. At least it's well known for it's wunderful food.
And, Amy's? Well, next time it will be to ck out the breakfast.

The best things going for AD is 1st, an abundance of dogs, and 2nd a good variety of people.

pasadenapio said...

If you haven't seen the "ruins" of the Pasadena Public Library, built in 1890 at what is now Memorial Park (Raymond Avenue at Walnut Street), it's worth the effort. It's beautiful yet haunting.

Miss Havisham said...

You know that you are a freak for suggesting this.
I'll never understand it but Mademoiselle Gramophone told me to shut up about it. So, there it is.

Petrea said...

Maybe it has to do with the fact that Altadena's unincorporated, Karin. JT's got the idea, Altadena could be as charming as Sierra Madre. All the elements are there.

(Glad you like the shot, JT, thanks.)

Christie, good point. I've heard of towns that were able to fight a Wal-Mart or some such. I don't know how that works.

I never thought Altadena was known for its food, Cafe! Dogs, yes. Food, no.

Ann! Yes! A photo that's been waiting for me. Is it in its original spot? I'll bet you know more history of that place. Might be a nice blog post for Pasadena PIO.

Miss H, you were misinformed by Mademoiselle G. I didn't suggest it, I only mentioned it in passing. Don't click that link, people! It's a dangerous earworm.

Petrea said...

Update on Altadena Hardware from Tim at Altadenablog!

Trish said...

Ever since The International Banana Club moved out of Altadena, my heart hasn't been in Altadena.

But I digress.

I have to agree with the whole incorporation thing. Like Sierra Madre or SoPas, the city thing gives people pride and encouragement to actually do something for THEIR town. Make it something special and people will come. Alas, Altadena has seemed for years to be "a section of Pasadena" many people wouldn't travel to. Yes, I *know* it is not Pasadena, but many folks don't, any more than they don't know SoPas is not a southern section of Pasadena!

Yes Petrea, I believe WaMu had both locations. I left WaMu after they took over my GW account, wouldn't send me an ATM card and then made me stand around for 45 minutes while they decided whether to cash my $100 check because my signature card was 10+ years old and it didn't EXACTLY match my check signature! 4 forms of ID, answered all the questions they asked immediately off the top of my head (like mother's maiden name) and they STILL jerked me around for $100 of which I had ooodles more than that in the account. I put WaMu out of balance when I took it all out in cash! Morons! sigh, ok, off my soapbox!

I think the idea of picking up the slate, if that's what it is, is a GREAT idea! ;-)

Petrea said...

Well, Trish, there is the Altadena Town Council. I believe they're elected but I don't know what authority they have. I'd take a look at Altadenablog (there's a link on on my blogroll) and see what Tim's got on the subject.

As for WaMu, they might have died out regardless of the credit crunch, with so many customers tired of the rotten service! (At least there's you and me, right?)

Bee said...

Have you been in the depressing Ralphs lately? They have done some remodeling, and it is nicer inside now. There are also a few really pleasant checkers there.

It's not my main grocery store, but I was pleased with the remodel and have stopped in more frequently since Farm Fresh closed. They also have a recycling center there.

Petrea said...

Hi Bee,
It's been a few months. Thanks for your visit. I'll stop by Ralph's again, thanks to you. I always thought the checkers there were pretty nice, too.