Friday, August 12, 2011
One of my favorite buildings in Pasadena houses the Bellefontaine Nursery at 838 S. Fair Oaks. I can't help but notice the building because it's so much older (circa 1900?) than the new, beige, high-gloss Huntington Hospital complex that stands poised to trample it without so much as a glance over its nondescript shoulder.
Let's hope that doesn't happen. I don't know what lived here prior to 1939, but since then it's been home to the Bellefontaine Nursery, founded and owned by successive generations of the Uchida family since the beginning.
Current partner Alan J. Uchida has written an absorbing history of his family's business, complete with black & white photos. He glosses over the bizarre World War II period during which Japanese Americans, including the Uchidas, were sent to internment camps: "Fortunately, with the help of watchful friends, the Uchida family was able to retain their nursery which was closed from 1942 to 1945." What a gentle, generous way to say what happened to his family.