Monday, May 18, 2009


One of the still existing major landmarks on North Lake Avenue is the home of Charles Francis Saunders, named Ah-Tshi-Quah-Nah, at 580 North Lake Avenue, which was, along with its gardens, a major tourist attraction in Pasadena during the great hiking era which existed from the early 1900's through the early 1930's. Charles Saunders (1859-1941) moved to Pasadena in the early part of the 2oth century.

His contributions were as an author, naturalist and collector, who practiced and promoted ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement and also promoted the beauty and allure of the Southwest. He was responsible, along with Charles Lummis, for fostering interest in restoring the deteriorating California missions and reestablishing the El Camino Real.

Charles Francis Saunders was born in Bucks County Village, Pennsylvania in 1859 and moved to California in 1906. While he was a resident of Pasadena he became a noted author and naturalist, writing numerous books on topics of the California missions, California and Southwestern flora and fauna, and Native Americans. His books were widely read, from his first book, “In a Poppy Garden,” published in 1904 through his last, “Western Wild Flowers and Their Stories,” published in the late 1930’s. Many of his books were published in multiple editions and are still in print today. He collected Southwestern Native American pottery, basketry and other items and his wife, Mira Culin Saunders, donated his collection after his death to the Southwest Museum.

His home is a designated local landmark of Pasadena and looks much the same as it looked in Saunders' day, although the gardens have gone to rough and the creek, Wilson's Creek, and lagoon behind the house have been channelized in concrete. Still one can see how residential, bucolic and garden-like North Lake Avenue was, by the remnants of many bungalows between the commercial nodes located at the major cross streets. The home was almost destroyed, after having an interior fire in the 1980's and facing a long period of abandonment. It was restored by the new owner in 2005.


  1. Is that the place next to Avis with the tire swing and the hipsters?

  2. That's it. I'll post some photos soon.

  3. Mira Saunders was my great aunt and I visited this house several times in the '40s and '50s. Too young to appreciate the specifics of the garden, but not too young to appreciate its calm early California beauty, and its prolific fig trees!