Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The James Craig Adobe

 
The James Craig Adobe is not only Pasadena's oldest residence, but its oldest structure, too. It's just about impossible to see the house from the street (I've tried), so when the geniuses at Pasadena Heritage manage to swing public tours, you definitely want to go.

Last Saturday, Pasadena Heritage presented its spring home tour, "Before the Bungalow," including an illustrated lecture and a drive-yourself tour of four of Pasadena's oldest homes. A history lesson followed by a snoop around other peoples' houses is my cup of tea, people.

The Adobe was built in about 1840. Scroll to Mile 24 on this Pasadena Heritage page for a better history of the building than I could write. In the picture above, you can see that the exterior is just plain old adobe. The inside walls are smooth and painted white.

Being a handmade house that's almost 175 years old, the Craig Adobe has details no other house has. I love its asymmetry. The windows let in just the right amount of light. The temperature's a bit too cool for me, which means it's just right for everyone else.

The current owner is artist Sue Tuemmler. I don't think she'd mind me telling you her name, as her works decorate the walls and she had left her business cards for us to take. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside (I sympathize), but you can have a look at her website. These pieces are striking against the white adobe walls. And although Tuemmler respects her home's history and has decorated with a nod to 1840's California, that nod is a gentle one, a sort of "I won't forget you, but I'm living in the 21st Century."

 
At the other homes, we were allowed to take photos only from the street, so I especially like these shots of the grounds.

I have another picture from the tour to show you tomorrow. Pasadena Heritage did a terrific job, as always. If you get a chance to take one of their tours, do it. You'll get a lesson in history, and a darned good snoop.

Update 4/12/13: This historic house has just been listed for sale. I hope it is purchased by a lover of local history, someone who can take care of it as it deserves. The listing agent contact is:

Michael Dilsaver
Partners Trust
594 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101
626/795-6700 Direct
626/755-7372 Mobile

26 comments:

savannah said...

I never managed to do a tour when I lived in L.A., but I did get to a Showcase House (a charity fundraiser) in Pasadena and it was marvelous! Thanks for the history lesson. xoxoxo

BaysideLife said...

I love house tours, especially of historic structures. Love the stories old buildings have to tell. Not usually a fan of this type of art, but Sue's work appeals to me, especially her colors.

Adele said...

What an interesting history. I've never heard of Craig, so I just had a very nice time reading about him! Love your photos. Looks like my kind of perfect day, too.

Petrea Burchard said...

You can find much older works in California, such as rock art by the earliest Americans. But as to how the US was settled by Europeans, 1840's is pretty old for a house out here.

LONDONLULU said...

Now that's the kind of house tour I'd love! How terrific you can find an 1840s house there. I do love older structures and can only imagine the amazing, unique details in this one.

Diana said...

Thanks for the pitch for Pasadena Heritage, Petrea! We'll have a Modernism tour coming up in April, and our legendary Craftsman home tour in October, so more goodies to come - just check pasadenaheritage.org for more info and dates.

I'm fascinated, BTW, at the fact that this blog post is linked to a Turkish blog with a post about cheese-filed filo pastries; what's that all about? ;)

Petrea Burchard said...

Lulu, there's not a lot of detail in an adobe because it's a simple structure (albeit obviously a very good one). But the details are lovely and the house is special.

Diana, I can't thank you enough for the tour. As far as why a Turkish blog is linking to my post, why not? But then again, why? I have no idea.

TheChieftess said...

Looks like this adobe has been well kept!!!

When I was a kid in Girl Scouts, one of our leaders was the daughter of the Bashers, the last private owners of the Verdugo Adobe in Glendale. When we were in Girl Scouts, every year we would have a sleep over at the adobe and Doris would tell the story of Ramona...our favorite!!! After the Bashers passed away, the McKently family sold the adobe to the City of Glendale and it is now a small historic park. There are docent tours, but I believe you have to arrange in advance for them. if you get a tour, you just might have Doris as a guide!!! The last time I saw her was a few years ago for her 90th birthday!!! And she was still going strong!!!

LOLfromPasa said...

Bravo Pasadena Heritage! Great shots and interesting background detail, Petrea.

Bellis said...

It was so exciting to be inside the oldest house in Pasadena (before it was Pasadena): Do you think it's the only Victorian adobe in California? The house walls are incredibly thick, so it must keep nice and cool in summer. The pretty decorations around the eaves were added after Craig lived there, I was told. I wonder when the land around the house was sold off for housing? It must have been an idyllic place to live when there were 150 acres of gardens.

Thanks for finding the fascinating Running with History pages.

Latino Heritage said...

Great images and great choices for Pasadena Heritage. The angle on that first image is one that PH would covet.

You are so right about adobe houses being rare. It was in such fine condition.

A couple of footnotes worth mentioning regarding the history. Ranchos were Spanish if they were in existence prior to 1821. Those after 1821 were given by Mexico. This was true until the end of the U.S./Mexican War's end in 1848.

Folks who came from other countries prior to 1848, had to become Mexican citizens and become Catholic in order to purchase land. Mr. Craig was Irish, so he might have already had one check in his favor.

Katie said...

Great tour! Love that porch. Cool to read about James Craig. Ireland to Pasadena by way of India and Morocco is quite a journey. I bet he had some interesting stories. Thanks for the Sue Tuemmler's link too!

Ms M said...

Sounds like a fascinating house and tour -- thank you for the history. And for the link to Sue Tuemmler's art.

Petrea Burchard said...

It's my pleasure. And you all (in this case, perhaps especially Roberta of Latino Heritage), make these posts better by your contributions.

Latino Heritage said...

One of the fascinating aspects of the history of Pasadena, and the San Gabriel Valley for that matter, that still needs exploring would be of the first Yanquis and immigrants who came to the area. These folks were adventurers. Imagine traveling across the ocean and around the horn or over mountain to come to a society entirely new to them! The first one who pops into mind is Michael White who came from Kent, England. He was son-in-law to Eulalia Perez Gullen de Marine. His adobe is on the San Marino High School property.

James L said...

The age does not show at all on that structure. You can barely see the house from where you took that photo. It's still cold and windy up here in Cleveland. Your posts are making me want to take a trip down there. I've not had any interest before this.

Petrea Burchard said...

LH, I've peeked at the Michael White Adobe but not been inside. Do you know if they do tours? It's hard to believe that one is newer than the Craig Adobe. And there's that other house at the north end of South Pasadena.

Hi James L, this was the best view I could get without stepping off the path. Even inside, the house doesn't look old until you look closely. Then you can see its age, and be charmed by it.

Margaret said...

Oldest house. That is pretty wow.

Latino Heritage said...

Let me know when you'd like to visit the Michael White Adobe. Latino Heritage was one of the supporters that partnered so that the house wouldn't be demolished in favor of a redone aquatic area at San Marino H.S. and I've not been back for about a year or so. It's about time for me to go visit again.

Latino Heritage said...

Let me know when you'd like to visit the Michael White Adobe. Latino Heritage was one of the supporters that partnered so that the house wouldn't be demolished in favor of a redone aquatic area at San Marino H.S. and I've not been back for about a year or so. It's about time for me to go visit again.

Petrea Burchard said...

I didn't even know we could! I've never seen it open. I'd love to go.

Susie of Arabia said...

I too love to do the home tours when I can. I absolutely adore the backyard setting you featured. I grew up in an adobe house in Arizona, so I was particularly interested in this post.

Petrea Burchard said...

It seems such an efficient way to build, I don't know why we don't have more.

Petrea Burchard said...

Amazingly, this house has just been listed for sale. I hope it is purchased by a true lover of local history, someone who can take care of it as it deserves.

Curt Mason said...

Nice description of our family homestead from 1944 until we sold it to Sue and her husband a few years ago. Growing up in the place during the 40's and 50' was awesome. Sure, their were bigger and fancier places (the Valentine Estate on San Pasqual for one), but they lacked the casual liveability of the Craig Adobe, which housed not only our family of 6 but an occasional Cal Tech student or prof. Returning for the PH tour and seeing the sensitive restoration that the Myers had done brought back so many memories! Hopefully the next owners will also value its heritage and charm and refrain from any major renovations. C. Mason

Petrea Burchard said...

It's wonderful to receive your comment, Curt. I think we all hope the same as you do, that the new owners will be sensitive to the history of this home.