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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Superfluous Detail: Celebration in Cement

Well I've had enough nature for one week! I need something urban, thank you very much.

This building on East Colorado Blvd. is empty right now. What was it--Aardvark's? Does anyone remember?

I don't think this is a historical structure. I believe this superfluous detail is a recent addition. But I could be wrong. Tell me I'm wrong.

45 comments:

Dina said...

I would tell you you're wrong to make you happy, but what do I know.

I remember last time you posted about superfluous detail and we talked about Voltaire saying that "The superfluous is very necessary."

Geoff said...

Here's the property listing for it.

A search for "1283 E Colorado Blvd" + "Pasadena" turns up very little except commercial listings. If the building had any historical significance, I think something would turn up.

J+P said...

Voltaire's "very" is unnecessary.

Shell Sherree said...

I believe it's a 'wedding cake decoration' superfluosity.

Hilda said...

Fantastic! I'm very glad to see that some people still bother with these superfluous, but gorgeous, details.

Katie said...

There's nothing like a little architectural superfluity (when done right) to make a plain building into something special. Great photo!

Petrea said...

Hee hee, Dina.

Geoff! Thank you! You turned up the address, which I forgot to write down, and since I couldn't find an image of the place without an address I was stumped. But I have a listing of historical properties and it turns out this was the Howard Motor Company. My list doesn't say when it was built but it's on the National Register. And from the photo you linked, I see it was indeed Aardvark's.

Very, very, J.

Shell, you're getting technical on us.

Hilda, I'm in complete agreement. Sometimes they're the only thing that saves a building from being dull.

Bean said...

I wouldn't say superfluous. That would be like say that frosting roses are superfluous, and we all know how essential those are.

TheChieftess said...

Love old buildings with superfluous decoration...

Janet M Kincaid said...

I have no clue what it is, except lovely.

Laurie said...

I'm pretty sure that was Aardvarks. And I admire the building every time I drive by it. You captured it BEAUTIFULLY, Ms. P. I share your love of superflous details!

Susan C said...

The "columns" look like smoke stacks and the clouds look like belching steam.

TheChieftess said...

What kind of business was Aardvark's?

Linda Dove said...

Any architectural detail with faces is worth returning their stare.

Pascal Jim said...

The Howard Motor Company, dealer in Buick Automobiles, Mr. Howard owner of Seabiscuit.
This stretch of Colorado harbors many like structures, once known as an upper-class auto sales area.
Also check our the Holmes Body and Fender building, once a sales room of that era....

Thal Armathura said...

Yes, from the 1920's and part of Pasadena's Historic Auto Dealership Buildings National Register of Historic Places listing, as you will find a number of other historic auto dealership buildings along Colorado Boulevard from just east of the Norton Simon all the way to Hill, ending with the Sylvanus Marston designed Pasadena Ford Dealership building on the NW corner of Hill and Colorado. Across from the Howard Motor Company Building, in front of McDonalds, is the historic Foothill Boulevard Mileage Marker, from when this stretch of road was known as the Foothill Boulevard County Road (I think this was around 1900 if memory serves) and shows the mileage at this point from City Hall in Los Angeles.

Bellis said...

Goody, a new Mystery History! That ornamentation has the (unspellable) name Churrigueresque, a Spanish baroque style from the 1600s, but I can't find out the age of the building, even though it's on the National Register of Historic Places. I hope Ann will call in with the answer.

Bellis said...

By the wonders of the internet, Thal got there before me and provided the date. I'm off to look for that mileage marker.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

not superfluous detail

""Council just took the cuts to the grants off the table, and is not moving forward with the deletion of the required 1% of TOT to fund Cultural Affairs!"

Arts Administrator

Chuck Pefley said...

Well of course you're wrong! There! Happier now?

That "superfluous detail" is really nice and quite integral in making this otherwise banal facade unique.

J+P said...

Churrigueresque—? Laden by labels like that, it's a-stonish-ment it ain't baroque, period.

(wv: patin; hmmm …)

HearkenCreative said...

I'm with Dina and Voltaire: the superfluous is very necessary. We need to think of uses for all of those wonderful old buildings, now that many of the car dealerships are shuttered.

Petrea said...

Katie, we crossed in the ether, then I left the house early this a.m. Sorry.

It looks like superfluous details are of interest today. Thanks for all the great comments. And Bean is right. I may have to change this title.

Yeah, this was Aardvark's most recent location, although I believe they were previously on Green St. Chieftess, Aardvark's was a place to find gently used or discounted new clothing, sometimes over-the-top hip if I'm not mistaken, usable for street cool and/or Halloween.

Pascal Jim, thanks for the cool info about Mr. Howard and Seabiscuit.

Thal, I have a couple of shots of that (defunct) Ford dealership: here and . Didn't know it was Marston. Didn't know about the marker, either. Thanks. I hope you're writing all this down someplace because it's impossible to keep up with you.

Churrigueresque? You're not so easy to keep up with either, Bellis.

AND YAY, PA! I was so sure that was going to be a no.

I use the word "superfluous" a tad facetiously, of course. I love love love these details. Pasadena is full of them. Details like these are part of the art that make a city beautiful and livable.

You gotta have art.

Greg Sweet said...

Superduperfluous!

AmyR said...

I had no idea cement could look so much like lace. Whoa.

Thal Armathura said...

Aardvark's Odd Ark, I knew Larry Aardvark back in the day when he started his used clothing store over on the Westside back in the late 1960's, is now located on West Green Street just west of what used to be Ruby's Diner across the alley on Fair Oaks. I'm upset they moved, as I could pick up some great stuff on my lunch hour at the Howard Motor Car Company location on East Colorado, and now I have to go much farther and Aardvark's present space in an old auto repair garage space is not so awe inspiring as the Howard Motor Car Company interior space was and is.

altadenahiker said...

Good lord, do these people know their city, or what?

Ms M said...

Love your photo of the building and the ornamentation. It does remind me of "wedding cake icing" designs.

J+P said...

Hothouse blooms, the lot. One of the best things about Pasadena is its self-contained-ness.

¡hessecte!

Petrea said...

The guy's name is Aardvark? Too much. There's another Aardvark's on Melrose in West Hollywood.

J and I obviously diverge a bit on decor.

Trish said...

am I incorrect in believing this "ornament" was a shot in "The Mentalist" tonight?

at a friend's house--no Tivo, so I can't go back to check it out and compare.

Louis la Vache said...

Something you wouldn't see on a contemporary building of the Stacked Ice Cube Tray School of Architecture!

Geoff said...

Pascal Jim wrote:"The Howard Motor Company, dealer in Buick Automobiles, Mr. Howard owner of Seabiscuit."

Okay, I see the confusion. The building is on the NRHP as 1285 E. Colorado Blvd; however it now appears to be listed as 1283 E. Colorado Blvd (see here and here). Not sure how/why that happened.

I was also thrown that the real estate agents don't tout the historical provenance of the property. Perhaps it discourages prospective tenants who might be unhappy with signage and alteration restrictions?

Petrea said...

I wish I knew, Trish. I didn't see "The Mentalist." They've been known to shoot in town, though.

Ha ha, Louis, that about describes it!

Geoff, thanks for the links. I have a .pdf--I believe Thal sent it to me (thanks, Thal!)--that lists historical properties in town. This building is listed as 1283-1285 Colorado Blvd. That may explain the confusion. Email me if you want a copy and I'll send it to you. The link to my email is on the left side of the blog.

nicknpas said...

My Gebhard and Winter guide to LA architecture says it's circa 1927 (and was a Mazda dealership in 1977 when this edition was published). I'm pretty sure that decoration was original.

Petrea said...

More info from Nick! Thanks. The document I have is a .pdf with the Pasadena City Seal on it. I don't know if it was issued by the city. It doesn't have the year this building was built.

Thal Armathura said...

The Gebhard/Winter guide is correct, 1927 build date, and the last dealership in there was Acura in about 1990, and the list of landmarks from the City of Pasadena and other City of Pasadena historic preservation information is to be found at
http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/planning/deptorg/dhp/homedhp2.asp
Have fun!

Thal Armathura said...

Truly maddening, how the URL's get cut-off.
Here I will try again, its long, so you may have to piece it together:
http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/planning/deptorg/dhp/homedhp2.asp

in other words to avoid cutting off, with spaces, but leave out the spaces when entering in the browser window

http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/
planning/deptorg/
dhp/homedhp2.asp

Hope it comes out! Great info on this page.

Petrea said...

The link works great Thal, thanks!

The Real Zajac said...

Aardvark's may have been the last tenant, but they originally a few blocks to the west. Before Aardvark's, it was known as "The Chinart Center" a furniture and home decore shop specializing in East Asian styles.

Petrea said...

Zajac: more historic detail, added to the superfluous detail, is much appreciated.

Mike said...

Yes, it was AAArdvark's for maybe a year; by the way AAArdvark's had for several years been in 1253 E. Colorado, a couple doors west, which originally housed the Natzel Oldsmobile dealership.

Here's an old postcard that shows the interior of Natzel Olds at 1253 (I posted it because it looks almost identical to the interior of Howard):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/autohistorian/3271790002/

Petrea said...

That's a fantastic photo, Mike. Thank you. The comments are great, too. And to answer the question you're left with there, one of my commenters says Aardvark's is now on Green just west of Fair Oaks. I haven't gone by there to corroborate, but he's usually accurate.

Anonymous said...

This building was built in 1929 by Charles Howard, the owner of Seabiscuit. The Architect was Gianetti-Gibson. It is one of the most beautiful showrooms on the Boulevard. It was in fact used in the making of an episode of The Mentalist it was also a shooting location for Cold Case. The store was AAArdvarks Odd Ark, not AArdvark. The original owner was Joseph Stromei who is now deceased.

Petrea Burchard said...

Anonymous, thank you for that information. I always love coming back to a post and finding more details. This enhances the post. Thanks very much.