Saturday, May 29, 2010

Honestly, Sometimes

A three day weekend. Mmm, what to do, what to do?

Old Town will be open, for one thing.

That's not quite true. Much of Old Town will be open, for many things. I do like to be honest on the blog. Here, take a look at the calendar of events.

I took this shot of Mercantile Place on a quiet Thursday just after the lunch rush. I have a feeling things'll be hopping a bit more over the weekend.

A bit about Mercantile Place:
You'll need to click to enlarge it. I just had to go all artsy-fartsy on the framing.

Is it okay to say "fartsy?" I never use four-letter words here on the blog but I figure that one's okay because it has six.

You know, that's not quite true, either. I believe I've used "hell" and probably "damn." "Fartsy" is the only f-word I've used, though, I'm pretty sure.

So what are you doing this weekend? It's so beautiful in Pasadena right now it almost doesn't matter as long as you do something outside. But for goodness sakes, if you're using your real name don't tell us if you're going out of town. Just lie.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Busch Gardens Pasadena: Sleuthing

I've enjoyed showing you some of the traces of Pasadena's Busch Gardens we discovered on our tour last weekend. It was a special event to benefit Pasadena Heritage, a worthy organization that works to safeguard traces of Pasadena's history. This fencepost and other traces like it might have remained lost if not for the enthusiastic research of Michael Logan and his colleague Gary Cowles. The fencepost is another one of those items from which they literally pulled away the vines (see Wednesday's comments). It's located at the corner of Madeline and Stoneridge Drives.

Bellis was so enamored of the fencepost that she couldn't resist searching for more. (I wonder what that sign says? Probably "Please don't touch the ivy.")

The garden's terraced hillsides can be seen clearly today, especially on Stoneridge Drive just north of Madeline. Here's the Altadena Hiker reminding Bellis that this terraced hillside is on private property. Oh, that zany Bellis!

We had a wonderful time on our tour. Many thanks to Pasadena Heritage, Logan, Cowles and especially our tour guides in the field: the energetic Pat Lambert and our lifeguard, Michael Grady. These people volunteer their time and expertise to educate and entertain us, and to preserve Pasadena's past.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Busch Gardens Pasadena: Traces

Why are we gazing across a parking lot at the back of a building? Isn't this Busch Gardens Traces Week on PDP?

Why, yes it is. And this is the biggest trace of Busch Gardens, or actually of the Adolphus and Lilly Busch homestead, still standing in Pasadena. This building, on Arlington Drive near Fair Oaks, was once the Busch stables. It was moved from its original location behind the Busch mansion at 1021 S. Fair Oaks in 1910.

That was a hundred years ago. It would be a huge undertaking even now.

Don't you just love this stuff?

Here's the view from Arlington Drive. The stable is the larger building at the rear. I don't know what it's being used for now. The building in front has a sign on it that says "the Mews." I couldn't find it online. It might be a private home.

Just to get my facts straight: I took furious (though unfortunately not copious) notes during Michael Logan's lecture May 22nd, and I thought he said these were once the John Cravens stables (the Cravens Estate, which still stands, would have been close to the Busch home). But in Logan's own article in the May issue of Cottages and Bungalows magazine, the building is referred to as "Busch stables." One thing is certain: this building isn't listed as a Pasadena Designated Historic Property, and it should be.

Grab a copy of the magazine if you're interested in seeing this building in its original location. I haven't found a photo on the web but there's one in the article, a charming stroll through the gardens back in the day as imagined by Logan, who can picture them as clearly as a photograph.

Update, 6/12/10:
In an email from a person who lived in "the old barn at 55 Arlington" from 1987-1997, she said:
"It is divided into apartments now. I lived there for almost 10 years and loved it. It takes earthquakes very well (Northridge quake). I was told by
the owner at that time (Stan Stanislawsky - whose son is an accountant in
Pasadena) that it was the Busch barn and the apartment complex next door - to the west - were the chicken coops. The coops are apts also and also
very quaint! The barn should be on an historical registry. I moved out at the end of 1997. I don't know who owns it now."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Busch Gardens Pasadena: Gateway

If you ever get a chance to hear Michael Logan speak about Pasadena's Busch Gardens, go listen and enjoy yourself. He's got a great collection of photos and post cards, he's knowledgeable, and best of all he loves his subject. Last Saturday Logan spoke to a crowded auditorium at Westridge School before we headed out in tour groups to find the traces of Busch Gardens.

My first two posts about these traces are here and here. Today's photo is of one of the pillars that marked the entryway to Busch Gardens at Arroyo Blvd. and Busch Gardens Drive. There were originally two of these (if I remember correctly what Logan said), one at either side of the entrance, and the ticket takers sat beside them. During his lecture before the tour to benefit Pasadena Heritage, Logan showed a couple of rare, early photos of the ticket takers at their posts.

For the first couple of years there was no charge to enter the grounds, but soon they started charging 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children, a high price in the years before the first World War. As Bellis mentioned in comments yesterday, the proceeds went to charity.

Care of the gardens required the employment of 40 full-time gardeners. Adolphus Busch died in 1913 and Lilly Anheuser Busch died in 1928. The gardens remained open until 1938.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Busch Gardens Pasadena: Decor

You've probably heard about Busch Gardens. There's a Busch Gardens theme park in St. Louis (Grant's Farm), one in Williamsburg and one in Tampa Bay. There was even at one time a Busch Gardens in Van Nuys, California. But the original Busch Gardens was here in Pasadena. It wasn't a theme park. There were no rides. It was simply a magnificent garden. And yes, that's past tense.

You can click on Google's map and see where the 38-acre park was located. Generally, the grounds were bordered by Orange Grove Blvd. on the east, the Arroyo Seco on the west, Bellefontaine St. on the north (or just above it), and Madeline Drive on the south. Or thereabouts. It wasn't a square.

Originally the back yard of Adolphus Busch of Anheuser-Busch fame (he was married to Lilly Anheuser and later bought a share in his father-in-law's brewery), Busch Gardens was opened to the public soon after completion in 1905 and it attracted as many as a million visitors a year until it closed in 1938.

Although most of the gardens have been subdivided into residential tracts, traces of garden decor remain. Most are on private property though some are visible from the street. And this is no middle class, suburban neighborhood. Adolphus and his cronies had 38-acre yards and I guess now most people don't, but folks in that part of town still have an acre or two for their mansion. It's exclusive and oh, so heady.

The trace above is on the other side of an iron fence alongside Madeline Drive west of Stoneridge. I recommend you enlarge the photo to get the idea. (I had to stick my camera through the fence to get the picture--a small camera comes in handy.)

Wouldn't you love to have something like this in your yard? I don't even know what to call it. I'd like to have a folly of some sort--maybe a column, or a piece of iron scrollwork--but this thing is so huge it would look pretentious in my yard. It looked right at home in the expansive yard it occupied.

Scroll down to Saturday's post (5/23) for more details about the Busch Gardens tour.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Zen Monday: #97

Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and give us your thoughts rather than me telling you what I think the photo's about. There's no right or wrong. It means what you think it means, or what you want it to mean.

I look for a photo worth contemplating or, failing that, something odd or silly. Unless I absolutely must say something I stay out of the comments box to avoid influencing the discussion because when I get in there everything goes down hill.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Yesterday I did what you're supposed to do on a Saturday: something fun, with friends.

When you freelance, you tend to work 24/7. It's rare to do something just for fun. But yesterday was fun.

First we enjoyed a lecture about Pasadena's historic Busch Gardens (1904-1938), given by Michael Logan as a fundraiser for Pasadena Heritage. Later, as part of the event, we toured Busch Gardens sites in west Pasadena, some of which were on private property. I took lots of pictures (though not on private property, alas) and I'll share the best ones with you in the coming week.

Between lecture and tour, however, lunch on a beautiful terrace with my delightful friends was my favorite part of the day.