Friday, September 18, 2009


Photo is dated December 25, 1939. "Lourdes of the West" was built in 1939 as "an exact replica of the beautiful and historic Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, on the grounds of St. Elizabeth's Church in Altadena where it is attracting thousands of war anchored tourists, who are choosing the colorful Southern California vacationland in lieu of Europe this year. Photo shows the grotto at Altadena which encases statues of "Our Lady of Lourdes, the Virgin" and St. Bernadette, the little shepherdess to whom the Virgin appeared on 18 occasions, once commanding her to scratch the ground with her foot, where a healing spring burst forth, from which waters the spring at the foot of the "Lourdes of the West" has been created." It was built partly out of lava and greeted 300,000 visitors in nine months.
This is a magical place and recently renovated including the two garden entrance way gates which have "Lourdes of the West" in illuminated cut out letters in the decorative metal archway overhead. The St. Elizabeth of Hungary parish hosts an old time family festival in October on a Saturday evening where wonderful food and classic fair rides and games are hosted. Not to be missed; look for the banner advertising this coming festival at the southwest corner of New York Drive and North Lake.
At night, the flickering votive candles in the grotto give an eerie but peaceful feeling to the contemplative. One of several hidden gardens on Lake Avenue and a spot for reflection.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Here we have another Pasadena official landmark on North Lake Avenue, the French gothic style inspired Westminster Presbyterian Church designed by famed Pasadena architect Sylvanus Marston in 1925 as he was part of the Marston, Van Pelt and Maybury architectural firm which existed from 1922 to 1927, after Marston spent time in France during World War I, where he received inspiration from the French cathedrals. This is surely the most French European of cathedrals in Pasadena and it has a grand rose window on its south side, a sublime interior and a magnificent tower which can be seen for miles around. One could feel almost like being in Paris' Notre Dame during the Christmas Eve candlelight service in this wonderful treasure of a space.

This building has been used for filming a number of times including 1953 big screen version of the War of the Worlds where the church is seen silhouetted with Martian multi-colored blasts behind it. It was recently used for the 2008 Tom Cruise movie Valkyrie where it stood in for a German Catholic cathedral with its roof bombed and missing courtesy of CGI.

Truly a structure of magnificence on Lake Avenue. The photo is from 1939. With the undergrounding of the utilities on Lake Avenue we have very much enhanced the beauty of the street from that aspect. This gives us hope for the future that we might still be able to make major aestethic improvements to our boulevard. The ornamental streetlights are the same on this stretch from Woodbury to Howard that have been here since the 1920's. Someone thought it wise to remove the remaining ornamental light posts from Howard to the city center and replace them with much inferior light standards during the 1970's. We were lucky to replace the ornamental light standards once more from Howard to the 210 bridge in recent times, albeit they are just single headed rather than double headed.
More to come on the towers of Lake Avenue