Saturday, August 29, 2009

Irresistible Threat

A few days ago, this was this.

As flames close in on the hills above JPL and Altadena, I eat the words I wrote on my Thursday Overdog post: "obviously not threatened."

I wasn't going to take photos of the Station fire last night but I had to go look at it. We've all seen photos and news footage of brush fires, but to see this element doing its thing, which is neither good nor evil but magnificently ignorant of human values, is to feel awe.

I'll be asleep when this post goes online at a minute after midnight. Fire changes in seconds. At this writing, the Pasadena Star-News is reporting that the main JPL campus is "shut down" and some Altadena neighborhoods are preparing to evacuate. That could change at any second, just as the fire does. While John and I watched, the flames would disappear for moments, then reappear, red against the hillside, as high as buildings.

One neighborhood that may have to evacuate is The Meadows. It's a beautiful, rural area in the hills above Altadena. Greg Stanton, a very cool real estate agent, lives in and blogs about The Meadows and has more photos of the fire. It's from his blog I found this link to updates on the Station Fire.
In this photo, taken yesterday at about noon, Altadena residents watch the flames from the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Altadena Drive, not far below The Meadows. Incidentally, it's the first publishable photo I've taken with my new Canon 20D. I purchased the camera from Ibarionex Perello, who is probably out getting amazing shots of the fire right now. I'll bet he can't resist. I'll bet he has to go look at it. (Oh! I just clicked on his blog. Sure enough.)

Update, 8:40 am:
Kathy Christie Hernandez, our blogger buddy in La Canada Flintridge, is (as usual) posting excellent, up-to-the-minute information.
And check out more photos and info:
Tim, at Altadenablog.
Laurie, at Glimpses of South Pasadena, and click on her link to her overage blog.
Karin, the Altadena Hiker went up to the fire line last night.
Ben, at the sky is big in pasadena

Go ahead and click on the San Gabriel Valley blog links on the left side of the page here. I wouldn't be surprised if you find more.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Heritage Square: Past, Present, Future

I wish I could tell you the name of the photographer who took this shot. The photo is courtesy of Heritage Square Museum and was probably taken in 1968 or 69. Pictured are the Castle and the Salt Box, two historical structures from Bunker Hill that were saved from demolition only to be burned by vandals in the early days of Heritage Square. The building in the background is the Union Bank Plaza.

It might have been an inauspicious beginning. But Heritage Square Museum has survived and thrived, and is now the location of eight historic structures. I've featured a few this week, but let's leave some to the imagination. It's more fun to see the place for yourself.

When you go, you'll visit the gorgeously renovated, completely furnished, Victorian Hale House.

You'll tour the John Ford House, made remarkable by the fact that every bit of the distinct carving, inside and out, was done by Ford's own hand.

You'll see inside the Perry Mansion. You'll see the outside, too. It's all a treat—literally—it's a big old birthday cake of a house.

(Photo courtesy of Heritage Square Museum. If you'd like to be a costumed docent, keep reading.)
All the while, let your costumed docent tell you about the little things, like where they found the carved Newel post, or the pieces of lost trim, or the research into the original wallpaper. Ask what they're doing with all those Victorian fire engines. Is that real hair inside that frame? How do you move a building? And why is there a bathtub on the lawn?

Et cetera.

Be sure to ask what's coming up, because as much as Heritage Square Museum looks to our past it also has big plans for the future. There's room on the property for expansion, and those docents will tell you there's more to come.

(I posted some photos of yesterday's smoke plume from La Canada Flintridge on Overdog. If I get more shots today I'll add them.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Heritage Square: Not Square

Even in 1893 an octagonal house was unusual. This was Gilbert Longfellow's second octagon house, originally located on San Pasqual Street in Pasadena near where Caltech stands now. The Longfellow-Hastings Octagon House has been part of Heritage Square Museum since 1986.

The house has been partially renovated and is currently used to display photos and other items. I loved the linoleum carpet and the view up the stairs.

Here's our friend Brian Sheridan, Heritage Square's Director of Development and Communications, standing in the doorway to the dining room. He's holding a recent LA Times article by Sam Watters about the Octagon House.
Some of the buildings at Heritage Square are completely refurbished and ornately decorated. Some are still rough.

Octagon House is squarely in the middle.
A view from a window in Octagon House.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Heritage Square: Idyll Worship

This building may seem familiar to Pasadena residents as the Lincoln Avenue Methodist Church. Of course if you know Lincoln Avenue you know it's no longer there. The church is now a denizen of Heritage Square Museum in Montecito Heights. And it's okay that the stained glass window is covered in this photo because--well, keep reading.
The cornerstone of the Lincoln Avenue Methodist Church was laid in 1897 and the church opened for services in April of 1898. Information about the architecture is at the museum's website. The church was moved to Heritage Square in 1981 to make way for a modern post office at Lincoln and Orange Grove.
Now do you remember?

(If you go a couple of blocks south of the post office to the very end of Lincoln Avenue where it meets the 210 freeway, you'll see a couple of older properties. If you squint a bit and shut the freeway noise from your ears, you can get an idea of what that part of Pasadena was like a hundred years ago when the church was new.)

In yesterday's post about Heritage Square Museum I said you can tour almost all of the buildings there. You can't go inside the Lincoln Avenue Church just yet because there are funds to be raised and work to be done to restore it. A building has to be taken apart to move it, and although the church is back in one piece you can see from the ceiling there's still much to be done. You can even make a donation to the museum to help in the effort.
Brian Sheridan, Director of Development and Communications for the museum, told me the church windows will have to be replaced. The current windows aren't the originals. They're temporaries that were put in by a Hollywood production company when the church was used for a movie set.

Do you believe I was so star-struck by Heritage Square itself I didn't think to ask which movie?

12:50 PM
Brian just sent me this photo of an original window. What do you think? Worth restoring, eh?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Heritage Square: Enchantment

The Hale House.

When John and I were first dating we once stopped by the Heritage Square Museum. It was closed, but we always meant to go back. A peek down the quiet avenue was a glimpse into history.

Every time I drive by on the Pasadena Freeway and see the Victorian spires peeking out over the rooftops of Montecito Heights, I wonder: What's in there? Last Sunday I found out. If I were allowed only one word to describe what's in there, I would say "enchantment."

Heritage Square Museum is a mini-neighborhood of eight buildings, all built between 1876 and 1899 and all moved from their previous locations. (Plus there's a pretty cool old train car.) The five houses, one train depot, one carriage barn and one church are in different phases of preservation. Some are fully restored and furnished, some are still being studied and planned, almost all can be toured. Most of them are examples of Victorian and Edwardian architectural styles now rare in southern California.
Close-up of the train car, a recent museum acquisition.

Originated in 1969 as a haven for the last two remaining structures from Bunker Hill, Heritage Square Museum serves "to preserve, restore and interpret" structures that were saved from demolition and transported to this spot. Three of them (the Longfellow-Hastings Octagon House, the Carriage Barn and the Lincoln Avenue Methodist Church) are from Pasadena.
Looking toward the Valley Knudsen Garden Residence from the porch of Hale House.

The original Bunker Hill buildings are no longer there. Just seven months after they were moved to Heritage Square they burned in a vandal's fire. (I encourage you to enjoy the Bunker Hill links. They are amazing.)

I took 271 photos on my tour. I'll post more over the next few days. I promise not to post them all.

How many times have you driven by Heritage Square Museum and wondered? Just go. Be enchanted. And I recommend you take a date.
Part of a collection of antique manhole covers at the museum.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Zen Monday: #60

Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and give us your thoughts rather than me telling you what the photo's about. I look for something provocative or, failing that, at least something odd.

As I post each new Zen Monday photo, I'll add a label to last week's to identify it if necessary (if I know what it is).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Things the Light Does

I like this--the light in its variations, the way it slants this way and that, almost blinds you in one spot yet you'd almost miss it in another spot if you weren't looking.

I went to two parties yesterday. One was a memorial for the mother of a friend. I didn't know my friend's mother. I just wanted to be there and it was good to see some folks I knew and to meet some folks I didn't, and to just be part of the support. My friend held up pretty well most of the day. I think a couple of visitors surprised her. A card or two, with handwritten notes, blindsided her.

The other party was a festive, front yard birthday celebration for our neighbor. His wife made cupcakes and homemade ice cream. The kids performed a "Happy Birthday" parade, playing the music on tambourine and drum. They had to do it twice because the birthday man missed it the first time, taking a phone call from his brother overseas. The birthday man and his family are moving away soon. I'll miss them terribly.

Another of our neighbors is leaving as well. I already feel the empty spaces their departures will create.