Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Owl Drug Store

The old Owl Drug Company doorway now leads into Old Town Pasadena's J. Crew store at 3 W. Colorado Blvd. The corner of Colorado and Fair Oaks is where local commerce began.

Finding information online about this building and about Owl Drug isn't easy. The building, in Zig Zag Modern style, was built in 1930 after the previous Victorian structure burned in 1929. Apparently Owl Drug was there in the 1930s and 1940s (or the 20s-40s, depending on which article you read). Confusing, I know. Also, it looks like Owl was one of the forerunners of Rexall, but not until the 1940s. Yeah. Hard to follow.

This is a treasured old building, but not one of the oldest in town. Pasadena goes back to the turn of the 20th century.

Hey! It's my brother's birthday. One of these days I'd love to tour him around Old Town. He'd love it. Happy birthday, Stu!

This photo was a contender for the November first theme day of Doorways but I set it aside when I discovered how little information I was able to find on the web. In my search, though, I did find this 2006 article about hidden history by Janette Williams for the Pasadena Star-News. It reminded me that if I'll just dig, there are always treasures to uncover here.

23 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

I LOVE the mosaic tiles signage ~ so glad they kept that. When I re-do my bathroom, I want that on the floor. Guests will wonder why The Owl Drug Co. is so close to my heart ~ what a fun talking point that will be!! {I wasn't serious to start with, but the idea's growing on me...}

Turquoise Diaries said...

Its a beautiful doorway but I wonder what's inside??

Virginia said...

Stumble in for cough syrup and leave with a chic new sweater. Cool!
V

Katie said...

Very interesting old door. And very cool photo -- I really like that you captured the hip chick with her fun boots. Yep I'm with Shell -- the mosaics are great! I bet there were all sorts of treasures for sale at the old Owl Drug.

TheChieftess said...

In all my shopping sprees to Old Town, I don't recall noticing the Owl Drug Co mosaic!!! Thanks Petrea!!! I do remember Old Town in the 60's...it was very run down with a lot of pawn shops, old junky antique stores, and questionable businesses...I loved it when they did the redevelopment!!! And still love it...Old Town is a gem!!!

wv: edgess...feminine for living on the edge....

altadenahiker said...

Me either. I'll keep an eye out for it

Trish said...

even in the 80's before the redevelopment, FO & Colorado was run down. I took a bus now and again & would have to change there to get just about anywhere else. I had STRICT instructions not to talk to anyone, go anywhere with anyone or take anything from anyone. You would hardly know it now to look at the area---somewhat akin to the opposite of Mtn View Cemetery and 50 years ago.

I remember the Owl tiles, I remember Rexall but can't remember if it was still open when I was changing buses (they used to be somewhat like Starbucks--one on every corner). I seem to recall it as a place to hide if need be, but that was 25-30 years ago...memory isn't what it used to be.

Thanks for the memories!

Petrea said...

I did think of Katie when posting this (mosaic fanatic). I didn't think Shell would be redoing her bathroom.

Aysegul, the building is currently a J. Crew store. J. Crew is an American chain selling men's and women's casual clothing. http://www.jcrew.com/index.jsp

I didn't notice the tiles until some time within the last year. It's odd or sad that someone went to a lot of trouble, almost 80 years ago, to put those tiles down and so many of us never notice them.

Bellis said...

I'm glad you caught that chic young woman going in there rather than me - I'd have ruined their preppy image! Never noticed the Owl tiles before, thanks for all the history.

pasadenapio said...

Petrea, there's a wonderful historic photo of Owl Drug in our digital photo archives. If I can find the time today, I'll search for it and email it to you.

Cafe Pasadena said...

Ann, you have all the time in The World!!

dive said...

I thought this rang a bell, Petrea. Then I checked back in my vintage San Francisco postcard calendar that Katie gave me last year and lo and behold there is an Owl Drug Store in a 1930's street scene at the bottom of Powell Street, with a cablecar turntable right outside it.
Nice mosaic!

Margaret said...

My grandfather worked for the Owl Drug store in Fresno during the Depression. How did I not know that was at the J. Crew?

Pascal Jim said...

For years this building was owned by a Mr.Corodian, who operated a top end used clothing store (better than the others. I had several conversations with the man, he purchased the building for around $250M and when Old Town developed sold for a huge sum in the millions. He owned other properties in the area. Made Many Dollars.
Another BTO was Fred Clark, owned most of upper FairOaks where Parsons now located, Was a horse stable area on Walnut, the "Dirty Picture House" formerly the Oaks Theater where Pasadena Playhouse originated,then a Salvation Army Distribution Center.

Petrea said...

Much great info shared today, including several people who wrote in with photos to share. More on the blog tomorrow about Owl Drug and Old Town.

I'd love to see that calendar, Dive.

Don't feel bad, Margaret. So many of us didn't notice it.

Great info, Pascal Jim. I've done some reading about Clark/Clarke and that area north of the corner. He was quite the entrepreneur.

pictublog said...

first time visit to this blog. i like it....:)

Ms M said...

I, too, enjoyed seeing the mosaic in the doorway. I remember seeing those as a kid in downtown buildings in KC and St. Louis. I've never been to an Owl Drug Store, tho. We had Katz.

Petrea said...

Hi pictublog, thanks! Come by anytime.

Ms. M., we had -- I don't remember what we had as a kid in DeKalb. Not chains. Later on it was Walgreen's and Rexall.

Historical photos tomorrow, folks.

Diana said...

Give your brother one of Pasadena Heritage's quarterly walking tours of Old Pasadena! Who knows what other architectural treasures you'll learn about?

Petrea said...

Hi Diana, welcome! That's a great idea, whether my brother shows up or not!

Brigham Yen said...

I used to live across the street from the building and I always LOVED coming home (esp. after a hectic day) because for some reason or another, the architecture and history of the buildings just made me feel like I was living somewhere special (in the LA area).

Petrea said...

You did, Brigham! I've never lived in a downtown area and always thought it would be cool--at least when you're young. Maybe I wouldn't like it so much now but I would have liked it a few years ago.

Petrea said...

I received an email from CThalken in New Haven, CT:
"I've never been to San Francisco, but watching the 1947 movie Dark Passage on TCM tonight peeked my interest! Filmed on location in S.F. there is a wonderful shot of Humphrey Bogart riding a cable car in front of The Owl Drug store. Quite prominent in the scene cause there is a cable car turn around. I googled the Co. and there was your wonderful picture and history! What fun!"

imdb.com often lists filming locations, and does not disappoint in this case:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039302/locations