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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Street View: Julia Child

I hadn't known until the popularity of Julie and Julia that Julia Child was born in Pasadena. Commenter Markowsky mentioned her childhood home on another post. He quotes this link describing House and Garden's Book of Houses: "Of interest is the house Reginald Johnson designed in Pasadena for John McWilliams Jr. McWilliams was a Pasadena pioneer and the father of Julia Child. This was her family's first home, located at 625 Magnolia Avenue, Pasadena."

Markowsky looked up the address on Google. He said, "it appears to be an apartment complex at the intersection of California and Magnolia." I love Google, but knowing that Street View is one area where Google isn't perfect, I had to see for myself. There is indeed an apartment building on the corner, but 625 is a large and lovely house, and it's pleasant to imagine Julia McWilliams growing up there.

And Google does come through with an interesting excerpt from Appetite for Life, the Biography of Julia Child, by Noel Riley Fitch. (Thanks to Lori Lynn of San Pedro Daily Photo for pointing me in that direction.) I also found the commenter who sent me searching. He turns out to be Michael Markowsky, an innovative and talented Canadian artist who has lived in Pasadena and exhibited at Pasadena's Armory Center for the Arts.

And this tidbit: the post referred to exists no longer, but look at the comments. I wonder who winky_the_tinkler is?

Really. Such interesting people pass through Pasadena. I imagine the people who currently live in the house sick and tired of being so interesting.

32 comments:

Cafe Observer said...

Even I knew Julia Child was from Pasadena - and I'm not even a chef! Just an Eater.

I think you wooda been a great P.I., P. Or, at least play the part.

Kate said...

What a humble little casa! Gorgeous abode! You did some wonderful research; isn't google fun when you find what you want?!

Petrea said...

Cafe, I've paid so little attention to cooking and cookbooks that it doesn't surprise me. What I love is research.

Hi Kate! I was looking for proof that this was the house, and I found more than I bargained for. That's when Google is especially fun, isn't it?

Brenda's Arizona said...

WOW, my Godparents lived in that apt. complex at the corner of Magnolia and California! Second floor, back corner unit. I never ever ever knew Julia was born down the street! Can't wait to tell my college roomate - she and I spent Christmas break apt.-sitting their apt! Thanks for your research and diligence!!!

Petrea said...

Next door, Brenda! I doubt the apartment building was there when Julia was a girl, but you might have been gazing out at her back yard.

Vanda said...

That's one fine looking house. I wonder if anyone ever bothered to make a list of famous people who at one point lived in Pasadena.

AmyR said...

Yay research! I didn't know she was from Pasadena until you or someone mentioned it earlier this year. What a house. Do you think you could knock on the door and ask to photograph the kitchen? ;)

Petrea said...

Vanda, I wouldn't be surprised if someone has but right now I can't think how to search for that.

Petrea said...

Amy, I wouldn't dare! In fact, I stayed in the street to take the shot. I didn't even stand in the driveway. Besides, Julia's focus on cooking began after she'd moved on from this home, did it not?

AmyR said...

I wouldn't dare either. I am entirely too wussy for that. I would have even tried to take it from my car lest I be spotted.

And you are correct. Not a lot of Julia magic in that particular kitchen. :)

altadenahiker said...

Thank god Amazon didn't have the book (I checked). Saved me from my impulses. Will definitely slow down next time I pass by.

Anonymous said...

The City of Pasadena should be a plaque in front of that house. The way the City of London puts a plaque on the houses where famous people once lived, e.g., Dickens, Marx, etc.

Petrea said...

Hiker, you mean the House and Garden Book of Houses? I found Fitch's book easily, via her website, there's an Amazon button to click:
http://www.noelrileyfitch.com/julia.html

Anonymous, I like your idea. I don't know if the homeowners would like it! I loved coming across those unobtrusive plaques in London and imagining--oh my! Chopin lived here? He walked this street, came and went through this door? Sends one's imagination whirling.

Bellis said...

The Blue Plaques in London are put up by a charity. Maybe Pasadena heritage would consider it? It would add to the value of the house, surely? As for unearthing Childs' childhood home, thanks for yet another interesting factoid about Pasadena! I had no idea where Magnolia was even though I drive right past it most days.

Katie said...

Great, now I not only want to BE Julia Child (even though I don't really cook much), I want to live in her old house in Pasadena! I'm glad you didn't believe Street View, as we would have missed out on this gem of a house. Ok, back to my Soufflé Démoulé aux Macarons. (See p. 620, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Thirteenth Printing, 1966.)

Margaret said...

So fun to see her old home. I did like the movie about her with Meryl Streep. I definitely makes the Pasadena connection clear. You know who else lived here? Charlotter Perkins Gilman. Let's see how you do with that.

Petrea said...

Good point about adding to the home's value, Bellis. Maybe Pasadena Heritage could offer something well-designed (and uniform) that people would make a donation for.

Katie, seriously? Anything avec macarons goes well around here.

Margaret, of course, "The Yellow Wallpaper." But she was an early settler, wasn't she? Before 1900? I thought she lived in the Arroyo. Wonder if her home still exists.

altadenahiker said...

No, I was looking for the Book of Houses.

Petrea said...

I emailed you the link (also in the first paragraph of the post). Markowsky found that on a rare book site.

Mary Kate said...

In another link to Pasadena, Noel Riley Fitch, the author you noted, once was a professor at (then) Pasadena Nazarene College. I took an Honors Literature class from her.

Petrea said...

Another fascinating twist, Mary Kate. Was she a good teacher?

You've got me searching for Pasadena Nazarene College. Where was it? Do any of its buildings remain? Have pity on me, I've only been in town four years!

Lori Lynn said...

'Tis a large and lovely house. I can so imagine Julia living there. Glad to find out about it! Thanks, as I am a huge fan. I wrote about her last home, here: http://tastewiththeeyes.blogspot.com/2009/08/julias-last-home-coq-au-vin.html
Great post, when I am in Pasadena, you can bet I will be there with my camera. Maybe we can meet for coffee??
LL

Petrea said...

LL, come to Pasadena without meeting me for coffee and you'll break my heart.

Colleen said...

Thanks for finding that house, Petrea! Julia was a well-known native, as we said in Hometown Pasadena, but we never did found out where she actually lived-- you win the sleuthing award!

Petrea said...

Michael Markowsky gets the sleuthing award, Colleen. But I figured everyone would know this one except me. Those current owners aren't going to like me much.

Mary Kate said...

In regards to Noel Riley Fitch; she was a great teacher and had the intellectual chops to come aboard a small,religiously conservative college and teach from a feminist base. Loved it! Pasadena Nazarene College buildings do, indeed, still stand. The location is at the intersections of Elizabeth and Wesley, I believe, bounded by Washington Blvd. on the south, New York Ave. on the north, Allen Ave. on the east, and Hill Ave on the west. I hesitate to disclose the exact dates of my attendance there, suffice it to say that Janis Joplin and Carole King were playing on the radio for the FIRST time and tie-dye and bell bottoms were de rigeur.

Petrea said...

Hmm, yes, sounds vaguely familiar.

I know exactly what that is, Mary Kate. I've been meaning to nose around there and get some pictures. You've given me the impetus.

Miss Havisham's Pasadena Podcast said...

How wonderful, you dear soul.

I am overjoyed!

I found an audio interview of Julia in Canada and it was so interesting. She was such a sweetheart. I love her.

Petrea said...

She was funny, too. I saw this early appearance on Letterman where she improvised with him because they didn't have the proper equipment.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHX0pv8_JOE

John said...

I thought Julia lived on South Pasadena avenue, just north of Columbia. Did her family live in more than one house in Pasadens?

Petrea Burchard said...

Hi John,
It's been a long time since I published this post and I don't remember the answer to your question! Let's both look it up and see what we find out.

Petrea Burchard said...

Here's one link:
http://www.pasadenaviews.com/day-60-julia-childs-first-home-in-pasadena/

Here's I Am Not A Stalker. She started with me, but found further information:
http://www.iamnotastalker.com/2010/01/19/julia-childs-childhood-home/

On first look I don't find reference to a house on Pasadena Avenue, but that doesn't mean they didn't live there.