The transformation of the building at 107 S. Fair Oaks is all but forgotten. I've been in Pasadena for fewer than four years and I might not have known about it if it weren't for people who visit and comment here at PDP.
But this building has a history, as so many of our Old Town structures do. I highly recommend the Wikipedia article about it. Parts of it were written by an artist who had an office there during a crucial time, when the tenants were evicted to make way for a remodel and retrofit as part of the revitalization of Pasadena's Old Town.
The artist and I have never met, but we've corresponded via email. When I told him I'd be visiting the building and posting photos, he said he didn't want to see them. He hadn't been inside the Carver since being evicted in the mid-1980s because it was too painful.
For some of us who came later on, the "revitalization of Old Town," as it's called, seems like a boon. But for at least a few who lived and worked there back then, it was a time of upheaval, a time of "cutesy-fying" their neighborhood, a time of heartbreak. That viewpoint is exemplified by my artist friend, who visits the blog and emails me from time to time with bits of information about his beloved Hotel Carver.
Recently another PDP visitor who comments here, Loren Roberts of Hearken Creative, invited me to his office in the basement of the remodeled Hotel. In part of the building's varied history, it was the first hotel in Pasadena owned by an African-American, and Loren's office would have been in the nightclub where famous black musicians are thought to have played.
Loren loves his office and appreciates the retrofit, but he's also an avid fan of the building's history. He gave me a tour, showing me the "SIGN" sign in the basement and historic photos in the lobby.
I could tell the place has changed a lot over the years. A bar once occupied the main floor; it's long gone. The change most noticeable to my email friend would be the stairway that once dominated the entryway. Gone, gone, gone. And of course there's the exterior. I'll save that for another day.
But my artist pal may be surprised to know that a poster he signed in protest of the remodel hangs, framed in glass, in the lobby.
Update, 10:30 am: Please read the comments, as Loren has added more information than I could give.