Friday, September 17, 2010

Cold Confection

I came across this gate back in April, then came across it again last night while looking through my photo files. It's on the property that once belonged to the Merritt Mansion and is now part of the Ambassador Campus. When you step through the gate, a little stairway takes you from the lower garden to an upper garden. I posted about the Merritt upper garden last May, soon after I wandered there taking photos.

For those who don't want to click the links: industrialist Hulett C. Merritt was one of Pasadena's early millionaires. He built his mansion on Millionaires' Row in 1905 for a cost of $1,100,000. That gives you a general idea of how fancy the house was, and still is. It's a big, old wedding cake of a place, one of the few surviving mansions along Orange Grove Blvd. You don't normally notice it from the street, though, because it's flanked by a couple of modern buildings that were built by Ambassador College when it bought the property.

Those ill-conceived flanks look like giant ice cube trays, which conceal the wedding cake in their chilling shadows. But you can stroll on the property at Green Street and Orange Grove Avenue and discover this remnant of Pasadena's past for yourself. Do it soon; the property has been purchased. Changes will happen. Let's hope they won't be drastic unless, for example, ice cube trays are removed to reveal wedding cakes.

Wander far enough and you'll find this gate. Let it lead you to the gardens. It only takes a little imagination on your part to enjoy a glimpse of its heyday.

Did I mention I like archways? I think I mentioned I like archways.

15 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

I like wedding cake.

Pascal Jim said...

Ice Cube Trays, over the past forty years I've glared at them, at last a description that fits perfectly!...


After the boulder rock walls, gates are my favorites in Pasadena.

Greg Sweet said...

I love putting myself back in time. It is amazing to think of spending 1.1 mil on a house in 1905 (or since 2008), but I imagine all the draft teams it took to first grade the site, then lug all the lumber and concrete from the rail cars. And the water delivery system - that concrete didn't come premixed. Then the landscape. By the time they were done, the mansion would have been surrounded by nothing but sterile, alluvial decomposed granodiorite. However, I should imagine that if they saved the manure from all those draft mules, they had quite a compost pile going by the time the interior decorator left.

Virginia said...

ISn't this the place we strolled together? I don't remember that little doorway but I found some shots of that lower garden the other day. Beautiful day, beautiful friends.
V

Petrea said...

Hee hee, Shell.

Glad you like the description, Jim. I admit they leave me cold in their current configuration, blocking the more beautiful building from view.

Greg--excellent envisioning. I love putting myself back in time, too. In this case, you did the job for me.

This is the place, Virginia. I don't remember if we walked through this particular gate that day, but we were definitely in the upper garden (there's a small fountain and a pool next to a little pavilion). My brother and I scouted it a week before your visit. I took this shot then.

Bellis said...

We're going to get condos there soon, yippee! Just what we need more of in Pasadena, don't you think? The ones on the Ambassador campus east of the 710 freeway stub are so close together, they must be ready to house thousands of people.But I enjoy driving along Del Mar to see all the fridges and washers lined up in the street waiting to be fitted.

I hope the ones they're planning for Ambassador West don't crowd out the lovely gardens and mansion, and that we'll still be allowed to walk through there.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

If push comes to shove I prefer the ice cubes over the wedding cake.
I recently saw a film "The Single Man" that had the Ambassador college as a backdrop

btw: good movie

Petrea said...

Bellis, I'd like to know how many of these hundreds (thousands?) of new condos have been filled. Or to put it in other words, how many sit empty? To be fair, the new owners of the Ambassador Campus (I need to look up their name) have put forward a plan to leave much of the current architecture in place.

More the modernist, eh, PA? Well, perhaps push won't come to shove and they'll all stay. Now I'm interested to see that movie.

Pascal Jim said...

Greg, your comment brought back some memories. East, where the freeway is located were the Union Pacific Railroad Tracks, Orban Lumber and other industrial facilities. Throop Lumber was located on a rail spur at Walnut(now freeway interchange) This entire section had several pottery operations. All in all, serving the BIG Houses on Orange Grove.
Where Housten's (ws?) is located, the Hammond Lumber Co., Arroyo had rail tracks at the time, Hammond was a major lumber provider for all of Pasadena.....

Susan Campisi said...

I hope the wedding cake outlives the ice cube trays.

I agree with PA about "A Single Man." Interesting tidbit about Ambassador College. The house in the film is in Glendale (527 Whiting Woods Rd. 91208). It's for sale for $1,495,000. Nice mid-century mansion.

Petrea said...

I'll bet the Pasadena Museum of History has photos of that, Pascal Jim.

I'd drive by that house, Susan, just to have a look.

You all might enjoy this blog: http://www.iamnotastalker.com/
She is adorable, and she finds ("stalks") movie and TV locations, many of them in Pasadena.

pasadenapio said...

Thankfully there are still a few original mansions on "Millionaires Row" but sadly most were demolished long ago. I was fortunate to be able to tour the Merritt a few years ago after the Ambassador campus was sold and before plans were put in place to develop the property. The mansion, for years called Ambassador Hall, will continue to stand, no matter what, I'm happy to say.

Virginia said...

Can I come back, huh , huh, can I come back , hug????

mark said...

I would so love to tour that mansion and the grounds.

Petrea said...

PIO, that's good news. We get a lot of good news from you.

Virginia: any time.

Mark, I think you need to talk to PasadenaPIO.