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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Helen Lukens Gaut

They've got this great photography exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of History. I'm sorry to spring this on you at the last minute but it's closing, so you have to go today.

Helen Lukens Gaut was a self-taught photographer and journalist who lived in Pasadena and Highland Park in the early 20th Century. Her father, Theodore Parker Lukens, was mayor of Pasadena. Twice. The family's Victorian home still stands on N. El Molino.

Gaut loved Pasadena architecture and photographed a lot of it. She even designed a bungalow and apparently one, or some, of her designs were built in Bungalow Heaven.

I wish there had been a book based on the exhibit so I could take it around with me and compare the then to the now. That's probably too expensive an undertaking for our small and homey museum. The museum shop's book section is impressive, though--they carry books about Pasadena history I had once thought hard to find, including some about the native Tongva, architecture, etc. I bought a book by Ann Scheid called Downtown Pasadena's Early Architecture. That's right up my refurbished, Old Town alley.

I feel a kinship with Helen Lukens Gaut. She was born in Rock Falls, Illinois, not far from where I grew up in DeKalb. She loved to write and take photos (moi aussi), she loved to travel (that's me) and she was interested in architecture (me again). And she died the year I was born. Somehow that doesn't surprise me. It's certainly not reincarnation. I might just call it carrying on.

19 comments:

Lou Belcher said...

Carrying on... what a nice thought.

Lou

llandudnopictures said...

Great composition, it all looks very clean and orderly!

Petrea Burchard said...

Hi Lou,
I'm not the only one who does it, either. Lots of people love photographing Pasadena.

Llandudnopictures,
Our local history museum is comprised of four buildings. Two are early 20th-century mansions (one currently being renovated), one Finnish farm house and one modern building, where the other exhibits are housed. The modern building is clean and orderly!

Latino Heritage said...

Especially enjoy the composition in this image. Thanks for sharing this. I think after the exhibit is closed people will be able to go to the archives and admire her work. Thanks for sharing this.

Bellis said...

You have a lot in common with Helen, for sure. Maybe you're channeling her spirit? The Lukens were dirt poor when they came to Pasadena, but then her father made a lot of money in real estate. I love that he was a good friend of John Muir, and an active environmentalist who set about reforesting the San Gabriels. Helen was also in real estate, and did a lot to promote Pasadena and the Craftsman culture to people on the East Coast. She also drove a snazzy car up and down the coast taking photos. Perhaps you should retrace her journey, Petrea?

I wish the photos in this exhibition could be moved into the permanent section of the Museum.

Petrea Burchard said...

I think so, LH, and I plan to visit them in the archives, unless Bellis gets her wish and they go on permanent display.

I doubt I'm channeling her, Bellis, though we have a lot in common. I wouldn't mind taking a trip up the coast in a snazzy car, but I wouldn't want to be in real estate!

Diana said...

There is a 2001 book called "Helen Lukens Gaut: Chronicler of California Bungalows" by Jane Apostol, who's written a lot of books on local history. It's out of print now and I can't locate a copy at Vroman's or the usual used book websites. Strangely enough, even the Pasadena Library doesn't have a copy, but maybe there's one in the Museum's Library?

Diana said...

Sorry, I forgot to mention that a book she wrote, showing bungalow designs by one of the Heinemann brothers and several other architects, is available via an online used book sellers if you have a spare $81:
http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=Helen+Lukens+Gaut&bi=0&bx=off&ds=30&recentlyadded=all&sortby=17&sts=t&tn=If+you+intend+to+build+a+bungalow&x=60&y=7

Anonymous said...

One of Pasadena's most posh grand hotels, the Vista Del Arroyo (now the office of the Ninth District Circuit Court of Appeals). Its history - including its wartime stint as a major military hospital (we used to see its ambulatory patients on Colorado Street when I was a young child and my cousin worked there) - is here.

http://www.militarymuseum.org/McCormackGenHosp.html

Betsy

Anonymous said...

The book mentioned - which has only 12 pages - is available from the Clinker Press for $40 (see their website) or can be borrowed via the WorldCat. Your public library will work out borrowing from this source (I borrowed a fascinating book via the Pasadena Public Library - the fee for having it transferred was only $2.00).

http://www.worldcat.org/identities/np-gaut,%20helen%20lukens

Betsy

Petrea Burchard said...

Diana and Betsy have all the info today. Thank you both. A book worth having, if it's got those photos in it.

Steve Scauzillo said...

I would love to see some of her art. Could you post some? Or anyone who has the book. Sounds worth it.

altadenahiker said...

Wish I'd made it. Like your photo, muchly.

Margaret said...

I'm sorry I missed this.

Susan Campisi said...

You're doing a great job carrying the torch.

Petrea Burchard said...

I don't know about rights, Steve. Maybe the best thing to do would be to stop by the archives at the PMH and ask to see Gaut's work. I'm sure you've spent time there and if you haven't, any excuse to stop in is a good one.

Thank you all.

PMH Laura said...

@Diana - the PMH Research Library and Archives does have a copy of the Jane Apostol book on Helen Lukens Gaut. You are welcome to visit and look through it during the Archives hours, Thu-Sun between 1-4.

We've also posted the photos from the exhibit online at Flickr...just type Helen Lukens Gaut in the search box. Helen's 200 original negatives are in storage in the Archives and we'd be happy to bring them out for an interested researcher.

PMH Laura said...

Thanks for the article Petrea!

Petrea Burchard said...

Treasure!

Better late than never. Thank you, Laura. You guys do such a fantastic job.