Saturday, August 13, 2011

Throat-Clearing

Just south of yesterday's photo is this empty building. I had stopped to take pictures of the Bellefontaine Nursery building when this one gave a sharp whistle and said, "Hey! Take my picture, too."

I think this is the structure a friend of mine meant when she commented on Facebook about yesterday's picture of the Bellefontaine building. "I love the brick building next to it. I've been after the owner for years to rent it to me. It's empty and doing nothing. It would make a cute sandwich shop."

You know, it would. And right there amid the Huntington Hospital complex, somebody could make some money.

I'm aware some people are going to look at this and see a tear-down but I like every detail, from the dry, cracked wood at the bottom of the green door to the tattered curtains in the windows. Imagine the musty smell inside. What's in there, do you suppose? What did this place used to be? Do traces of its former purpose linger? Dishes? Old wires? A printing press?

I've never studied architecture and I was a lukewarm student of history. Now, though, perhaps because I'm getting older (as old as some charismatic architecture), buildings are beginning to tell me stories. Some are louder and more articulate than others but all of them talk, and the older they get the more they have to say.

22 comments:

dive said...

You could make a Stephen Shore style book out of these photos, Petrea.
Strangely impersonal, minimalist structures that seem austere and inscrutable; hiding their inner lives from the street like Arabic houses behind the souk in Marrakesh. The stark blankness of the blue sky (so alien to this Englishman) enhances the sense of unreality. The softness of the single tree, placed just off centre of the building gives it a kind of split personality; lush greenery to one side, hard concrete to the other. Go in the blue door, buy your sandwich and exit the green door into another world.
Apologies, but this is what happens when an architect drinks too much coffee before checking your blog.

Speedway said...

Criminy, Dive, are you sure it's the coffee? :-D The first time I used my French coffee press, I could feel the additional buzz, but nothing that had me swooning about a souk in Marrakesh!

Nevertheless, the pink tree against the brick caught my eye, softening the red brick boxiness. I wonder why the owner won't rent it? Seems like an opportunity to make money, sited as it is. Hmmm.

dive said...

I drank a LOT of coffee this morning, Speedway. It was raining and the Breakfast Club went on for hours; people leaving, more people coming in. Waaaay too much coffee …

Petrea Burchard said...

They may be hoping to sell it to a medical group latching onto the Huntington complex, which begins right across the street. Huntington Hospital, Hunting Imaging, Outpatient Surgery, Orthopaedics, etc. etc. have all been taking over this part of town and growing, forgive me, like a cancer. It's wonderful to have all the best doctors in town, and fine facilities, but then we lose little gems like these.

Dive, I had to look up Stephen Shore. I like his stuff. Here's a New York Times article with a slide show: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/18/arts/design/18shor.html
Thanks for the compliment. Have another coffee.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

When I see an empty building I think studio. Before old town gentrified it was full of artists. Patrizzi can back me on that

Petrea Burchard said...

I had heard, but not had a real inkling of all that until Kevin Cloud Brechner (http://www.timeriver.net/) invited me to his studio and showed me pictures of his old space in the Hotel Carver. He's got a pile of historical shots that he's not sharing online. It's a treasure trove. That building is very different now, as is all of Old Town, and he told me all kinds of stories of Bohemia. Sorry I missed it.

Bellis said...

I drive along Fair Oaks, but have never much noticed this little old building, yet your photo makes it look so interesting. Like you, my first thought was that it's destined to be replaced by something overbearing and dull, like the grey monster medical building at Fair Oaks/California. It will soon have a similar partner across the road when Monty's is demolished, making the junction look very crowded. To think the lovely Japanese garden and house now at the Huntington Library used to be at that corner! You've hit the nail on the head by calling the spread of medical buildings on Fair Oaks and Raymond a cancer. How many doctors/MRI centers /physiotherapy gyms can we have before there's saturation?

Laura said...

I think this building used to house George's Plumbing. It was a great shop, helpful (if a bit cranky) owners and staff.

Not sure why they moved...maybe a developer bought it?

Desiree said...

I love the way buildings whistle at you.

Petrea Burchard said...

I didn't know Monty's was going, too, Bellis. Wow, that whole part of town is just getting crushed. I'm glad we have good medical care here--at least in town, if not north of the freeway--but jeez.

Thanks for the info, Laura. I found George's nearby on Palmetto, with a nice website:
http://georgesshowroom.com/

Don't buildings whistle at you, Desiree? Probably restaurants and gourmet shops do.

Steve Scauzillo said...

love old buildings. We have similar themes today -- economic development.
www.templecitydailyphoto.blogspot.com

Petrea Burchard said...

We do, Steve. The good and the bad of it.

Ms M said...

Interesting photo and interesting questions you have. It would make a nice sandwich shop, a deli, with the in and out doors. You'll have to update us later on what becomes of this building.

Ms M said...

Dive's comment also had me revisiting Stephen Shore's work. He's right; you could do a book from the photos you've taken.

Steven said...

I think the place has some definite upside.
AND I whistle at Desiree every time I see her.

Petrea Burchard said...

I will update you, Ms. M. I think almost every town has these seemingly nondescript buildings that deserve a second look.

Steven, I can only assume, then, that you are well-built.

nicknpas said...

The nursery used to sell garden accessories out of that building, and I think they still use the area around it for storage. George's plumbing was in a different building (an appliance3 store now, I think).

I had assumed that the Uchidas had bought the land a long time ago, because for such a high rent area, their prices are pretty low.

Petrea Burchard said...

Low prices! Even more incentive to go to Bellefontaine. When I do, I'll ask if the Uchidas own this building.

Trish said...

holy cr@p, Monty's is closing? another one of those places we were sure the mob must own---no one we knew really patronized the place, but it stayed in business.

I believe George's was just north of there by a bit---maybe were the BK went in? Can't remember if this building was one that housed Huntington's consignment collection for a few years, or if that too, is another building.

Petrea Burchard said...

The Huntington Collection is just north of here (about a block). I don't know if it always has been, but it is now.

nicknpas said...

Monty's closed two or three years ago. It'll be torn down when the land owner finds a customer for an office building. The Chinese restaurant in the building also closed, though the massage place hangs on.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Nick. So, it'll be torn down when the recession ends.