Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Trade-Off


Work on the Braley Building has finally been completed after four years, during which many Pasadenish lamented the sale of this historic structure to the Church of Scientology and wondered if renovation would ever even begin. Upon purchasing the building, the Church immediately evicted long-standing businesses only to leave the building empty and waiting. Not exactly starting off on the right foot, but outsiders to this institution generally approach with mistrust, so I suspect the wrong foot was the only one to start off with.

Renovations finally began in earnest early this year. I took this shot in mid-May, grabbing a peek while the doors were open to Mercantile Place. It shows the first floor atrium in mid-construction. There, one could once find entry to the Pasadena Antique Mall, and a great little Italian restaurant where J. and I began falling in love, and a sandwich shop run by an immigrant couple who named the shop after their daughter. Apparently the the old wall clocks will be allowed to stay.

Walt Mancini's photo in the Pasadena Star-News shows a chapel. Knowing the Braley Building, I can only assume that's in the basement where the Knightsbridge Theatre once was. There I performed the Shakespearean roles of Tamara in Titus Andronicus and Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra. Fun times.

The theater company moved on to a better space before the Braley was sold. Say what you will about Scientology, but my bet is the chapel doesn't have cockroaches.

32 comments:

mark said...

At least the building was saved from the wrecking ball. Lots of history in that building. Have you ever performed at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis?

Petrea said...

Never performed at the Guthrie, Mark, but I've been there. I can't remember what I saw, though. It was a long time ago.

The Braley was never in danger of the wrecking ball.

Bellis said...

In my view cockroaches are less creepy than what will go on in that chapel. But the congregation will be clean - I saw in the Star-News that there are upstairs purification saunas.

Petrea said...

Yes, the larger Scientology centers have saunas.

A Facebook friend reminded me the sandwich shop was called Mehdi's.

Margaret said...

Nice little history here. I didn't know any of this. Thanks.

Pascal Jim said...

Do as your mother demanded:

"Don't talk to strangers, don't make eye contact"
esp. in the vicinity of 35 South Raymond.

We once had a space in the Antique Mall, sorry to see the interior of the Braley "purified".

Petrea said...

PJ, don't worry, Scientologists can't hurt you. It's those with low self-esteem who are vulnerable to psycho-babble, and that's true of any religion or cult.

pasadenapio said...

Scientology is all about the number of invisible pods from outer space that are dwelling on your body and what you're doing (and how much dough you're paying them) to improve that.

You played Cleopatra? How wonderfully decadent! I wish I could have seen that production.

Mister Earl said...

I remember that Italian restaurant. I can't recall the name of it, but for some reason I recall vividly the bruschetta. And I recall who I went there with.

Susan Campisi said...

I didn't know any of this either. Fascinating.

Petrea said...

Ann, all my outer space pods are visible, and they're free! Yes, I had a blast playing Cleopatra. Tamara was equally fun because she's evil and motivated.

I want to think the restaurant's name began with F, Mister Earl, but I'm not sure.

Susan, most of my memories of the building are from before I lived in Pasadena. I came to act in the plays, and much of my activity centered around the Braley and Mercantile Place.

Mister Earl said...

Google searching reveals that there was a restaurant there from 1997 to 2007 called La Fornaretta, which has now moved to Newcastle, CA between Auburn and Roseville in the Sacramento area. It had a sister restaurant in San Marino, which closed before the Pasadena location.

But... I know I went there before 1997, so there must have been a predecessor, whose name is still a mystery to me.

Havisham Patrizzi said...

Wasn't it called The Italian Fisherman?

Mister Earl said...

Could be, Miss H. I just don't remember. I did email the La Fornaretta people up in Newcastle to see if they know.

Mister Earl said...

Mystery solved by Miss H. According to his website, "Amedeo Costantino opened the first gourmet restaurant in what is now referred to as “Old Town Pasadena”. A prestigious and award winning restaurant, the Italian Fisherman was run successfully from 1981 through 1996." The restaurant was at 35 South Raymond, the address of the Braley Building, and the dates match up with La Fornaretta opening in 1997. Amedeo now owns and operates Stoney Point Restaurant on the western edge of Pasadena. He also has Cafe Sole in La Canada.

Speedway said...

PODS!? Really? Is that anything like the pods in the original "Bodysnatchers" movie in the 50's? That movie scared me when I was a little kid and the whole concept frightens me now. The renovation of the building seems nice enough, though.

Years ago, I was approached down town by a young woman with a clipboard who asked me if I minded answering a few questions for a survey. Eh, what the heck, I had the time and made a point of giving her the strongest most off-the-wall responses I could muster. She stood a few seconds, chewing the end of her pencil as she mulled over my responses. "Well, thank you for your time," she said, as she abruptly walked away. Obviously, I was NOT a candidate for the cult.

Mister Earl said...

I remember in the 60s in Berkeley people with clipboards would knock on the door asking if I wanted to live a more fulfilling, more successful life. "Uh, no thanks," I said.

Petrea said...

La Fornaretta! That's the one I remember. I'm not familiar with Stoney Point. Anyone?

You don't have to be afraid that the Scientologists are going to "get you." If you're not interested, just say so. I have known Scientologists and have been invited to their functions and have not accepted. They're used to hearing "No."

Or try Speedway's method, that works, too.

Petrea said...

Mr. Earl, Berkeley, 60's? Are you sure these weren't Timothy Leary's people?

Mister Earl said...

I've never eaten at Stoney Point, but I know where it is. It's in a charming little mall in the San Rafael area on Colorado next to the 134 almost in Eagle Rock. Looks like a nice place.

Yes, Scientologists were in action in Berkeley in the late 60s. Tim Leary didn't need "people." In Berkeley, everyone was his people. His was, shall we say, a "grass" roots movement.

Katie said...

Good that the building is being saved, but if that yellow thing in your photo is one of the pods I'd be a little concerned. I had a recent Scientologist encounter: exiting the train at downtown Berkeley I saw at the bottom of the big escalator to the street a few "do you want to have a personality test?" people, and at the top of the escalator was a group of people shouting at everyone to stay away from the cult. Ah Berkeley.

J+P said...

Two words: 

Face eating monkeys.

Mister Earl said...

J+P: Nice! I was wondering how what the final legislation looked like.

Petrea said...

Ulp!

Yeah. Ah, Berkeley.

Latino Heritage said...

Just getting here...I do think it was the Italian Fisherman. First time I ever had a real Caesar Salad was at the restaurant. We went a couple of times, but it way out of my preschool teacher pocketbook. The food was really good.

Anonymous said...

The sandwich shop was called Moji's, I think. They sold Robin Rose ice cream in addition to sandwiches and salads.

And the other place was a Chinese restaurant called Bamboo Yuan before it was the Italian Fisherman.

And hi Roberta, I'm the Nick who used to work with Jim at Honeywell back in the late 80s.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Anon. Moji's is right. I hope Roberta sees your message, but if not, click on her name and you'll be directed to her blog.

pasadenapio said...

Stoney Point is a very good restaurant, kind of cosmopolitan. Piano bar!

Mister Earl said...

Got an email back from Cesare, the owner of La Fornaretta (now in Newcastle), who confirmed that indeed it was the Italian Fisherman and he recommended Stoney Point as having the same good food!

Petrea said...

I haven't been to a piano bar since Chicago.

Dina said...

Cleopatra, wow! Got photos?

This post got me to googling about Scientology in my country. It is here, more than I imagined.

Petrea said...

I hadn't thought about that, but I guess I'm not surprised.