Tuesday, December 22, 2009

THE MISSION CANDIES BUILDING - LAKE WASHINGTON VILLAGE

The Missions Candies Company had a chain of candy stores in Southern California in the 20's and 30's






This is how the Mission Candies Building looked in the 1970's before the big decline





By landmarking the historic building and restoration, we hoped to bring back to Lake Washington Village an ambiance similar to State Street in Santa Barbara which Lake Washington Village once had






A recent night view of the Mission Candies Building with Pinocchio's Pizza in the midground





Notice the tables with linen tablecloths and many flowers
Here with this posting I'm in synch with Petrea at Pasadena Daily Photo. I took the nighttime shots of the Mission Candies Building, with Pinocchio's Pizza, a couple of weeks ago as I've been interested in this building since Armen's family wanted to relocate their restaurant to it from the previous building location about half a block to the south.



This historical building was almost altered beyond recognition when the Pinocchio's Pizza family bought the property and proposed to modernize the facade. Luckily, we were able to designate the building as a local Pasadena landmark and convince Armen and his family that it would be far cheaper for them, and much better for the community, to restore the historic building. I've been speaking to Armen all along and recently told him how nice the building and the restaurant looks, especially with the tables with linen tablecloths on the sidewalk, even if no one sits there, it looks elegant. The original idea was to help bring back the lost ambiance of the Lake Washington Village area, and I think Armen and his family have done it! We congratulate them!


The following is a history of the Mission Candies Building:
Landmark Application Report

For the: “Wood’s Building/Mission Candies Building”, 1445/7/9 North Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91104 (March 1, 2005)
Physical Description:

This is a one story large “Mission Revival Style” corner commercial building stuccoed with a tiled shed roof on the street facades. The building has three storefronts along North Lake Avenue, each with distinctive “Spanish Baroque Corbeled Arch” styled window openings along with original period transom windows. The original glazed tile bulkhead remains on most of the façade of the building. Some modifications appear to have been made to the entrances of the three store bays, although the structure retains most of its outstanding historic character.

The building has a very prominent siting, being located on a rising northwest corner of the busy North Lake Avenue corridor, and the structure dominates its location.

Significance:

ACCORDING TO THE CITY'S 1987 HISTORIC RESOURCES INVENTORY, “This structure is significant as one of the most intact and sophisticated of the remaining 1920’s commercial buildings along this portion of Lake Avenue, and is an attractive example of a small Spanish Colonial Revival “Mission Revival” commercial structure.”

This building appears to be the last and best remaining example in Pasadena of this iteration of a Southern California common commercial storefront building of the 1920’s, in its siting and simplicity, built in the Spanish Colonial Mediterranean Revival Style, also known in the 1920’s as the “Mission Revival Style”, a style which was very connected with the tourist booster mythology of Southern California and the old California Missions. Various authors, including Kevin Starr, California State Librarian Emeritus, have covered this Southern California architectural phenomenon which swept the area when in 1915 the “Save the Old California Missions” movement was started, along with the “Good Roads” movement, by the Southern California Auto Club as a tourist development action and the Panama-California Exposition, showcasing 17th and 18th century Spanish architectural designs, opened in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

This building also has a strong association with the landmark eligible Washington Theatre. The Washington Theatre was under construction for nearly five years (1919-1924), with the unavailability of tractors to assist in construction delaying the project, and the opening of the theater was further postponed until North Lake Avenue and Washington Boulevard were able to be asphalted in 1925. The builder of the “Wood’s Building/Mission Candies Building”, Henry Wood, a prominent local realtor, had the opportunity to develop his lot, located at the intersection of Rio Grande Street and North Lake Avenue on the northwest corner, to be a complimentary business and entertainment location to coincide with the biggest ever opening in the Lake Washington Village neighborhood, the grand opening of the magnificent Washington Theatre movie palace. The Washington Theatre was marketed in the local papers as a greater Pasadena destination, with the reasoning of why not see first run movies away from the crowds on Colorado Boulevard. The “Wood’s Building/Mission Candies Building” benefited from this Washington Theatre advertising campaign.

The building has been the home of a number of small neighborhood businesses, and also housed the local post office for a number of years, and also served the Washington Theatre pre- and after-show crowd from its opening in 1925 and the Mount Lowe tourist trade from 1925 to 1936. The “Rio Grande Confectionery” and later the successor “Albert Sheetz Mission Candies Fountain and Shop” served tourists traveling up to Mt. Lowe and returning. There were no other locations located on North Lake Avenue leading up to the Mount Lowe Railway which offered freshly made candies.

The siting of this building is unique for the area in that it is situated on a northwest corner with the façade wrapping around from the west to the north. This building has been a very visible local and touristic landmark for more than 80 years at this location.

This building is located near a former Pacific Electric car stop for trolleys heading to Altadena, Rubio Canyon, the Great Incline and the Mt. Lowe Alpine Tavern Hotel. The Mt. Lowe Alpine Tavern was located on the mountain directly above the terminus of North Lake Avenue and was a popular destination for weekend outings and as a local and national tourist destination. The incredible Mount Lowe mountain railway, which at the height of its popularity was Southern California's outstanding tourist magnet, attracted more visitors at the time then Yosemite or Catalina. It offered one of the world's most spectacular rail trips with disaster seeming ready to strike at every turn of the car wheels, yet so expertly engineered that in all the years it operated not one accident occurred. It was the realized dream of Professor T. S. C. Lowe., the first U.S. Union Army balloon aviator during the Civil War, inventor and one of the most prominent Pasadena residents, investors and boosters.

The Alpine Tavern was also a well visited destination watering hole during Prohibition (1919 to 1933), since the Tavern was cut off from the rest of the city when the last train left in the evening until the trains began running in the morning. This made the Alpine Tavern safe for the imbuing of spirits and other nefarious activities during the nighttime hours. Also, businessmen, attending meetings at the Alpine Tavern Hotel and then being stranded on the mountain after the last train had departed, were known to have telephoned their wives informing them they would have to spend the night at the Tavern, giving them a good excuse for an evening of unbridled and uninterrupted entertainment in this veritable mountain fortress! The aforementioned confectionery located in the “Wood’s Building/Mission Candies Building” would have been the only place in North Pasadena on the way up to the mountain to obtain freshly made candies in gift boxes, which would have been appropriate gifts for a romantic rendezvous.

The interurban railway of the Pacific Electric Company brought the ``Big Red Cars'' to North Lake Avenue in 1902, in which crowds of hikers would arrive early on Saturday morning bound for the local canyons to the north. Come Sunday evening the reverse migration would occur. At its peak in the year 1921, when 160,930 passengers were carried, Mt. Lowe cars operated from Pasadena to Altadena via North Fair Oaks, Mariposa, and North Lake including via North Lake from Colorado Boulevard. Another nearby local tourist destination was the home and gardens of noted local botanist and Southern California Missions booster Charles Francis Saunders, located at 580 North Lake Avenue, located just south of Orange Grove Boulevard, which was visited by many traveling on the Pacific Electric cars going up and down to the mountains.
The hiking era came to a close soon after the Angeles Crest Highway was opened in 1936 and the automobile began to dominate people's lives. Roads were driven into the San Gabriel Mountains and few people ventured more than a few hundred yards from their automobiles. The number of visitors today is probably a few percent of the number who came in 1921.

The North Lake Pacific Electric Line was extremely busy until shortly before its abandonment in 1941. The “Wood’s/Mission Candies Building” saw its fortunes decline after the closing of the Mount Lowe tourist attraction in 1936, the opening of Angeles Crest Highway into the mountains also in 1936, the ending of trolley traffic in 1941, the onset of World War II and the general availability of automobiles and cheap gasoline for the common man. The building of a new local post office on Washington Boulevard near to Washington Park dealt another blow to the “Wood’s/Mission Candies Building”.

Maintenance became ever more infrequent afterwards and the building at present is vacant and in need of refurbishment to bring it back to its original splendor. This building is truly indicative of its time and place and has been a beautiful embellishment to Lake Avenue for more than eighty years. With proper restoration, the “Wood’s/Mission Candies Building” will adorn its corner once again with an ambience and style which will draw clientele from its entertainment counterpoint and stylistic bookend, the Washington Theatre.

History:

This building was constructed in 1925 by Henry Wood, a prominent Pasadena realtor, using a local contractor by the name of Willard R. Bell, who is listed as living at 1640 E. Mountain at the time. Mr. Wood, whose real estate office was located at 1458 North Lake Avenue and home was located at 867 Rio Grande Street, was always looking for good investment opportunities, and when the Washington Theatre on Washington Boulevard opened, just around the corner from Mr. Wood’s lot on the northwest corner of Rio Grande Street and North Lake, Mr. Wood saw his good fortune in the lot being located in a rapidly developing business node on the long stretch of Lake Avenue located at Washington Boulevard.

Mr. Wood and his contractor Mr. Bell pulled a construction permit, on March 31, 1925, for a one story commercial property to be built of brick in the “Mission Revival Style”, matching the style of the Washington Theatre, to be located at the property to be addressed “1445 - 7 - 9 N. Lake”, at a cost of “$8,900”, with a purpose of “Stores”, with a total of “3 Rooms”, with a lot “91.89 feet by 70 feet”, with a size of building being “60 feet by 70 feet”., with the front of the building being erected on the “Front” of the lot, with the highest point of the roof being “18 feet”, and the height of the first floor joist above curb level or surface being “13.6 feet”, the character of the ground being “Clay”, the material of the foundation and cellar walls is to be made with is “Concrete” and the material the upper walls will be made with is “Brick”. There are no buildings within 30 feet of the proposed structure as of the building permit issuance date.

“The Rio Grande Confectionery” (A.C. Powell, owner, Always a Large Variety of Ice Creams, Candies, Cigars, Stationery, Toilet Articles and Fountain Service, 1445 N. Lake Avenue, Phone Sterling 4214) was domiciled in the southerly shop bay in 1927, “The Wycoff Verrinder Company” (Musical Instruments, 1447 N. Lake Avenue) was domiciled in the middle shop bay in 1927, and the “United States Post Office, Station C, North Pasadena, California” was domiciled in the northerly shop bay at 1449 North Lake Avenue, also in 1927. Carrying along the "Mission" theme, we find the "Mission Bell Beauty Shop" of L.C. Clow located just to the north at 1454 North Lake Avenue.

In 1937, we find “The Albert Sheetz Mission Candy Company” located at 1445, the I.M. Flamholtz Barber Shop located at 1447, and the Post Office Station C still located at 1449 North Lake. The “Albert Sheetz Mission Candy Company” was particularly well known in Southern California from the 1920’s on, with locations in all the major tourist destination cities such as its home city of Santa Barbara, and Hollywood, Santa Monica and, of course, Pasadena. Albert Sheetz Mission Candy Company locations offered “Fountain Service, Fine Foods, Pastries, Ice Cream, and Mission Candies”.

Historical Context:

Lake Avenue began in the 1860’s as a burro path connecting Benjamin Wilson’s Lake Vineyard Ranch, whereupon Wilson’s Lake was located on the site of present day Lacy Park in San Marino, with the mountains to the north. Known at various times as the Lake Vineyard Road and Prospect Road, Lake Avenue was served by a horse-drawn rail line and eventually by the Pacific Electric railcars before automobiles finally dominated the street.

Though many early visitors and tourists have traveled North Lake for business or pleasure, such as Henry Ford to test his latest automobile models on North Lake’s steep grade, the area’s residents have been among its primary users on weekdays. Residential development extended north up Lake at the beginning of the century, first to Villa Street and then throughout, and beyond the city limits. Commercial development followed the residents and the annexation on North Pasadena in 1904. By the 1920’s, the Lake/Washington intersection was an important retail center serving nearby residents.

Zoning has permitted a gradual transformation of North Lake Avenue. At the end of the nineteenth century, it was a road running through large tracts with citrus trees, fruit trees and vineyards. The large properties were subdivided to accommodate more homes, but residences dominated the entire length of the avenue until the 1920’s when commercial nodes at Villa, Orange Grove and Washington were created. In the early 1920’s, when zoning districts were established citywide, North Lake Avenue was designated residential with commercial development being limited to Maple Street, Villa Street, Orange Grove Boulevard and Washington Boulevard. The residential zoning allowed bungalow courts and four family flats in addition to single-family housing.

In 1930, commercial uses were permitted to extend from Orange Grove Boulevard to Maple Street, at the southern end of North Lake Avenue, and between Claremont Street and Elizabeth Street near the northern limits, to serve the growing number of people with automobiles. By the 1960’s, the residential area between Claremont and Orange Grove was zoned for neighborhood commercial uses, and during the 1980’s more intense commercial uses were permitted in the portion between Mountain and Orange Grove. Many of the residential structures in the neighborhood commercial portion have been retained, although some have been adapted for commercial uses. The zoning has remained substantially the same since the mid-1980’s although many auto related uses such as gas stations and auto repair garages have been replaced with other retail and service uses.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this. Very interesting!

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  2. Thal, you've got a history book here. I'll get back to it when I can! But I've read the first part and I'm glad to tell you that Ann's was the definitive answer on my 12/22/09 post regarding Pinocchio's (yes, it's good). Others who gave it a thumbs down hadn't been there recently.

    Spaw, the business on the corner, seems to be flourishing. I'm glad to say it because Victor and his lovely wife are--well, they're lovely. Appointments are highly recommended because those guys are busy! Boz had his bath Monday and he smells soooooo nice.

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  3. Thal -

    As always, thanks for your excellent write up. The old photos you have of the area really bring it back to life.

    Back in the 70's, the city used to hang Christmas decorations across Lake Avenue at 4-5 block intervals. They did this on Colorado also.
    By any chance do you have photos of those you can post ?

    Thanks,

    - Steve

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  4. Great history, TA!
    Even greater typing!

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  5. Steve, we are actually asking the North Lake Business Association why they are not putting up holiday decorations on North Lake. We cannot understand why Lake Washington Village and the rest of North Lake seems to be so neglected by most of the area merchants and by the city of Pasadena. It just doesn't seem right for an area with such history and architecture to be left to decay in neglect.

    Unfortunately, I haven't found any photos of the Christmas decorations from the past, but I may still. I've uncovered some fantastic photos from the old Pasadena Independent newspaper which has a guide to Lake Washington Village, all from around 1959, when things were still happening on North Lake.

    I'm really sad that we don't have the toy store, old clock repair and antique shops and antique book shops we had even in the 1980's. We have to encourage the city to help us bring North Lake Avenue back to the small town Main Street it was for so many of us from the 1950's to the early 1980's.

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  6. Cafe Pasadena, Most of this was already on my computer since I wrote the report with documentation supporting the designation of the Mission Candies Building as a local landmark.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete