Monday, January 4, 2010


(Oil on canvas, courtesy of the Armitrading Foundation - Mount Lowe collection)

Built by Professor T.S.C. Lowe in 1894 on Echo Mountain summit, the terminus of the Great Mount Lowe Incline Railway, the Echo Mountain House was a grand resort hotel in the style of Belle Epoque luxury, something never seen again in the Western United States after it burned to the ground in 1900, a sad loss to our beautiful mountain at the top of Lake Avenue.

The searchlight, purchased by Professor Lowe from the 1893 Columbian Exposition, was the strongest of its day, and was said to be able to illuminate a newspaper to be read at night in faraway Catalina Island. This was not the only artifact of the 1893 Columbian Exposition to end up in the area of Pasadena and Altadena. The McNally mansion has a Turkish Smoking Room Tower, puchased by Mr. McNally from the Turkish Pavilion at the fair and shipped and installed in his mansion in Altadena. The script on the ceiling of the smoking room appears in Arabic script and has been undecipherable to readers of Arabic, because it is in Turkish, since the Ottoman Empire used the Arabic script to write Turkish until Ataturk reformed and Europeanized the modern Turkish state after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, this being in the 1920's. Another hidden mystery of our ancient resort city.

Can this monumental historic hotel rise from the ashes? We hope to live long enough to see this beautiful monument to Professor Lowe's achievements be rebuilt, however, this time with fire sprinklers! They have rebuilt the demolished Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow and they are in the process of rebuilding the demolished Imperial Castle in Berlin (Berliner Stadtschloss), so why should we not have our Belle Epoque resort hotel back? I'm looking forward to sitting on a late summer's eve on the long front porch in a rocking chair, sipping a cool drink, with the valley floor's lights twinkling. We stayed a while back in a surviving similar resort hotel in the Great Smoky Mountains called the Balsam Inn and it was enchanting!

Here is to the future and a New Year!

1 comment:

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