Sunday, May 2, 2010

Then and Now: Merritt Gardens

Update: Please see the comments for corrections about this post.

A relative of Hulett C. Merritt emailed me after I posted about the Merrit Mansion last week. He was kind enough to send me clippings of obituaries and some lovely old post cards. Above, the sunken garden. Below, as it appears today.
To quote Mr. Merritt's relative:
"I was in Pasadena for a week in December 2008, the first time I had been back in nearly 25 years. I walked around both Hulett's mansion as well as Lewis' mansion [the nearby Tudor]. My great grandparents used to come out from the Midwest to spend the winter months in Pasadena back in the 1930s. To some degree, I found that parts of Pasadena still have that slow pace of life that attracted snow birds in previous times."

(If I've got it straight, Lewis was Hulett's father.)

The gentleman sent me even more great information which I'll save for another time. Perhaps we'll do a post about Lewis' mansion one of these days.

20 comments:

Sarah said...

Interesting!
.
.
I have posted the card abou an hour ago, Petrea. I hope you recieve it soon ;)

Anonymous said...

No sig and no booze....just milk and honey!

Petrea said...

Hi Sarah. I look forward to receiving the card. I found something interesting for you so I'm still in the process of making yours.

Anonymous, you make a good point!

J+P said...

That's real digging. Who says time travel is beyond us?

Katie said...

Very cool that a Merritt relative sent you more info about the family, and especially the postcards. It must have take quite a large gardening crew to keep those sunken gardens looking that lush. The obit is unbelievable!

Susan C said...

That obit. is fascinating. Nothing like attempting to control your family from the grave.

Petrea said...

I think it's cool, too. Yes, a bit like time travel, which is why I like finding this stuff and revel in the fact that it's still here in whatever form.

Controlling them from the grave! I guess so, Susan. In a way I understand it. I wouldn't want my treasure, such as it is, to go to just anybody!

Virginia said...

Love the postcard, and it was great fun seeing it with you!

V

Susan Manning said...

Always so interesting, Petrea, to see the 'then and now' comparison. I used to feel sad that gardens and grounds are never kept up in the same manner as the original owners kept them, but that was a labor of love originally and it is rare to see future caretakers or owners have that same feeling for a garden. My Dad loved his gardens and I have great pictures and memories, but I'd never go back there simply because it is not the same at all....it doesn't need to be, really, in the scheme of things. But it would be neat to see someone who really loves gardens to 'have at' a place such as this to make the place dance again.

And quite funny about the alcohol, drugs and 'the Merritt name' stipulations. People are so interesting....

Bellis said...

I'd have a real dilemma deciding between the money and the red wine...thank goodness no rich relatives wanted to leave me anything.

TheChieftess said...

I'm with you Bellis!!!

Petrea said...

I'll look forward to seeing your photos of this place, Virginia. Maybe on your new "Pasadena Through My &%$#! Lens" blog.

Susan, with a garden like this I wonder if it's not more about economics than dedication. Wealthy people like Merritt could hire staff to manage the grounds, but modern institutions may not wish to employ so many people for a garden. I wish they would.

Bellis, you made me laugh! Between you and the Chieftess, now, let's guess how many of those descendants lied when they filed their affidavits.

Ms M said...

Your trip through the Merritt property, and the info sent to you by one of the relatives is really fascinating! Intriguing to imagine the past and how things looked, and were done then. The newspaper clipping is quite interesting! Sounds like he was a strict patriarch.

mark said...

It appears that Hu was a real control freak. I am almost sorry that he was from Minnesota. I did some more research on Hu and he was know as a miser and he was very reluctant to pay his bills. Often times those that he owed monet to had to take him to court to get paid. I guess we all have a wort or two.

J+P said...

Dunno if you're punning, mark, but I suspect a true wort is the last thing a teetotalling control-freak would allow -- even from beyond the grave . . .

Unseen Rajasthan said...

I agree with anonymous !!Great point.Over all an interesting post !!

Shell Sherree said...

That obituary is indeed fascinating ~ including the clause about changing their names.

Petrea said...

The name part is the most controlling, isn't it? All of this makes me wonder if his money didn't make him somewhat insecure.

JenniferT said...

I am a good five years late in joining this conversation! But the two gardens shown above are not one and the same. The garden in the post card (still extant!) is that of the Hulett C. Merritt mansion, at the northwest part of the property -- the garden that was formerly flanked by the Ambassador "honeycomb" buildings. The garden in the recent photo is actually the Kate Fowler Garden, directly west of the Maranantha football field, which was associated with the now-gone Eldridge Fowler House (Kate Fowler was his daughter and the garden was named for her). This was originally the E F Claypool house. There are nice historic photos of the Kate Fowler garden on the Library of Congress web site: https://www.flickr.com/search/?w=8623220@N02&q=eldridge%20fowler

Petrea Burchard said...

Hi Jennifer,
I had to look very closely to see what you mean, but you must be right. The archway in the postcard under the bougainvillea is too wide and there's no wall to the right, as there is in the photo. If this is the case, then I've never seen the garden at the Merritt Mansion, or at least I haven't looked at it from the perspective of the post card.
The photos from the Library of Congress are lovely.

Thank you for updating us with photos and info!