Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Views of the Columbia Grammar School, established on the east side of Lake Avenue just south of Walnut Street in 1895. The school was one of two built to relieve the rapidly growing enrollments, but the new eight-room building was not ready for students in September as anticipated; it was Christmas vacation before classes were opened. By 1898 new rooms were added to help meet the need for additional facilities. One of the first kindergartens was established at Columbia School in 1901, and the following year a new kindergarten building was constructed on the school grounds. The school was discontinued at the end of the school year 1930-31 and the property was sold.
The building was demolished and the Farmer's Market complex was built on the site and today Ralphs market is located here. A shame again to lose such a beautiful building on Lake Avenue. Hopefully, the present non descript Ralphs building will be demolished and something worthy of this grand corner will take its place.
Corners should be respected in our city. The recent adoption of citywide design guidelines will make sure this will happen. Thanks, Moule and Polyzoides, and thanks to Stefanos, particularly.


  1. Of course, that intersection got two more chances to be a part of history: The Ralph's market built on the site of the school was a shooting location for "The Big Lebowski," while one of the biggest bank failures in history was just across the street.

  2. Robert,
    Yes, it is a busy corner. I overlook it from my office window. On the NE corner Bona Corso restaurant is gone and $400,000 and up condominiums have taken its place. Conrad's Restaurant still holds court on the NW corner. And on the SE corner of Hudson and Walnut the old Art Deco style Pasadena Synagogue is now the American Orthodox Catholic Church - Parish of St John the Apostle. Many changes have taken place here. I had heard that Bobby Fischer, World Chess Champion, was arrested near the corner of Walnut and Lake, but Wikipedia says it was on South Lake. Here the Wikipedia entry: "On May 26, 1981, a police patrolman arrested Fischer on the sidewalk of South Lake Avenue in Pasadena, claiming that he matched the description of a man who had just committed a bank robbery in that area. During the arrest, Fischer was slightly injured. He was held for two days and subjected to further assault and interrogation. He was released on $1000 bail and the matter was later dropped.Two weeks later, he published a 14-page pamphlet detailing these experiences and expressing outrage that the arrest had been pre-arranged."

  3. Fischer's life story is strange from any angle.

    What did Washington and Lake look like back in the day. There's the remains of a movie theater, plus a deco building, and then of course, the rest is blight. But I wonder if it wasn't a rather fashionable, or at least family-friendly, corner at one time, maybe in the 30s and 40s.

  4. Great info, Thal! I can hardly wait for your next posting.

  5. Sorry. All I had to do was read a little further.

  6. Wikipedia can sometimes be taken with a grain of salt. It depends on who writes the article. Whoever wrote it may interpret Walnut and Lake as South Lake Avenue.

    Either way, this corner is more fascinating than I ever knew.