Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Brookmore Apartments

The Brookmore apartment building on Marengo Avenue isn't on Pasadena's list of historic structures. Seems it could be, though it's not the oldest building in town. The website says it was built in the 1920's and has been renovated for the modern apartment dweller, with parking, wireless internet and basic cable included in the rent.

I found rental info that looks relatively current. If you're thinking of moving in you might want to talk to other tenants: the web has some imperfect reviews. I take that stuff with a grain of salt, though. People who love a product or service tend not to bother to write about it, so the negative often weighs too heavily.

I like the old-timey, Midwestern prairie look of the place: the brick facade, the neon sign, the fire escape. I imagine what it looked like long before the freeway entrenched itself close by. I wonder who dwelt in its cozy apartments in each decade of the last century and picture the changing trends. In the 1920's, City Hall was being built not far away; perhaps a young secretary or city official lived there. In the 1930's, after the stock market crash, it could be that the place saw hard times. Maybe the tenants were mostly single women in the 1940's when the men went off to war. And so on.

It's possible that folks who lived there years ago are still in town.

27 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

Love the choice of black and white for this, Petrea. I can imagine someone out on the fire escape on a hot night, playing the harmonica, back in the good old days when people wouldn't throw a shoe out the window at you if you did something like that...

altadenahiker said...

I've always been intrigued by this building, and I've watched it go through renovations over the years, but the outside has always stayed the same. Also love the neon sign.

Hope the comments have some old stories.

altadenahiker said...

Just looked at the link. I'm trying to imagine 275 sq feet.

J+P said...

The Hampton Court of the Crown Town …

Petrea said...

Shell, I'm thinking that could be any decade. The harmonica, not the shoe.

I hope for stories, too, Hiker. We'll see. 275 square feet--I'd call that an efficiency, not a studio. And $1295 seems like a lot! That's a case for saving your latte dollars for a down payment.

Maybe so, J, because of the red brick, and the Huntington can be our Versailles.

TheChieftess said...

Wow!!! 275 sq ft for only $1295...such a deal!!! Glad I'm not looking for an apartment!!!

Lisa..... said...

Every time I drive by this place, I think, I need to take a photo of it. I love this building!

pasadenapio said...

Today, for some reason, our database will let me open some records but not others. Of course Brookstone is among the records I can't access. I do know there was a required seismic retrofit a couple of years ago due to the fact that it's an unreinforced masonry building.

A former employee of mine lived at the Brookmore a long time ago (15 years or more), so I was inside a few times. It's what could be lovingly called historic shabby chic.

ben wideman said...

Really cool composition on this one! Brilliant stuff, Petrea.

Bellis said...

I like the fact that they allow pets. And that The Lion in Winter was filmed there.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

My friend Andrea Best lived there in the 70's. Her great (maybe great great) grandfather was a grounds worker for Lucky Baldwin.

Back then the Brookmore was considered a flea bag dump, and was run by a crazy german lady

Petrea said...

From fleabag in the '70s to $1295 for 275 square feet of shabby chic in 30 short years. I assume the crazy lady is no longer there...

Bellis: The Lion in Winter? Which one?

Ms M said...

Great photo and I enjoy your "imaginings" of who may have have lived there in the past.

nicknpas said...

If I remember correctly, the builders of the Holly Street Apartments wanted to buy it and tear it down when they were planning that complex, but the Brookmore managed to fight them off. The Holly Street Apts were built to maximize the land they did get, which is why it wraps around the Brookmore like that.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Ms. M.

Nick, that's interesting. And the Brookmore is the much more interesting and attractive building.

Su_Tune said...

Wow. I can't believe how they fixed that place up. I remember driving past it every day when my mom took me to school nearby, '70s and '80s. She'd shake her head and wonder when someone would tear that dump down. I always loved the look of brick buildings around Pasadena though. But Pasadena was neat when it was really seedy in that area. Thrift shops and pawn shops and tons of fleabag hotels like this one. As a kid I thought it all so fascinating. Haven't lived there since '91 and only visit occasionally. WAY too upscale now, ugh. But am glad to see old buildings saved from demolition.

Petrea said...

Su_Tune, by the time I moved here, Old Town was all fixed up. I love hearing stories of how it once was. Making it commercially viable is probably what saved it.

Susan Campisi said...

A friend lived there a few years ago for about 6 months when she was in transition. Her place was small but nice -- brick walls, exposed beams. I actually considered moving there when I first found Tommy. Thankfully I came to my senses and found a bigger place.

Great photo.

Petrea said...

Not ideal for Tommy, no. (click on Susan's blog to find out why)

Mike said...

Yeah the Brookmore was a total fleabag back in the 70s; I'm so glad that it was fixed up. For some reason I recall a "transient" falling to their death from the upper floor, once.

The old fire station #1 and the police station were where the apartments are now. I was very happy to recently hear that the grand old police station was saved, as I had always thought that it was demolished, but that's another story. Maybe *someone* [cough] can get some photos...It's now inside the apartment complex...

Petrea said...

Thanks, Mike. Do you mean there's an old police station inside the apartment complex next door to the Brookmore? Specifics, please. 'Someone' will go on a quest.

Su_Tune said...

I thought the old police building was taken down? I remember it. I was a library page back in the late '80s and used to run documents down there. Then they used it as a haunted house for Halloween, just before they built the new police station. Anyway, the library probably has news clippings about the old building, whatever happened to it. I REALLY miss that library...the BEST ever.

Petrea said...

I'll see what I can find out about the police building. I've got a bit of a backlog so it may take a while.

Mike said...

Er, I forgot how to subscribe to this thread.

Yes - the police station was gutted and incorporated into the Holly Street Apartments. I had always assumed it was gone, especially since it can't be seen from the street, and was astonished to learn that it was still there. I had been in that place many times, even in the basement and on the roof, when it was in use.

This is the way it looked in its heyday, circa 1930:

http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics33/00036078.jpg

In the above pic, the photographer was facing east, with his back to the wash that runs along Memorial Park. The outdoor parking lot for patrol cars was on Marengo next to the then-mortuary (now Holly Street Grill).

I don't know of any other old police stations of that era other than the one in Highland Park. Nobody seems interested, likely because it's not LAPD. OK, end of rant.

Petrea said...

Didn't sound like a rant to me, Mike.

If you check in again and want to subscribe to the thread, look below the comments box. There's a tiny square you can check where it says "Email follow-up comments to..." and you should be able to have any further comments emailed to you by selecting that check-box.

So now I need to go over to Memorial Park (when it's not 100 frigging degrees out) and see what I can or can't see. I've never seen this photo. This thread right here is the only place I've ever heard tell of this old police station. Thanks for going to the trouble of finding and posting this photo. I'm very intrigued.

Mike said...

I forgot to mention that Arroyo Parkway used to snake all the way up to Walnut (it's the narrow little drive that's shown in the b&w photo).

I doubt that the building can be viewed from the park at all, since others now surround it, but I will walk over there an take a look-see...

Petrea said...

I think what I'll do is start at the park and just work my way in, see what I can find. Beginning with complete ignorance, it'll be an exploration of the first order.