The Towne Furniture Store just before its demolition in 1985
The Towne Furniture Store was a handsome building as seen in the drawing of the shop in the Pasadena Independent Newspaper dated January 1, 1947. The 1920's commercial building, very much like the remaining historic commercial buildings in the Lake Washington Village area, had a very pleasing ornamental facade, but over the years it succumbed to the decline of the commercial center and was ingloriously covered over with a slab of stucco.
In the end the building was demolished in 1985 to make way for the Food 4 Less Shopping Center parking lot. Nothing remains today except an empty hole of parking spaces just across from the Oversen Building and the Washington Theatre on the north side of Washington Blvd., both landmark buildings.
When we conceived the North Lake Specific Plan for this area in 1997, we proposed that "Edge Repair" would happen to replace the missing buildings on the south side of Washington Blvd. west of North Lake Avenue and also along the west side of North Lake Avenue south of Washington Blvd. along the outer perimeter of the Food 4 Less Shopping Center parking lot. This "Edge Repair" would be done by building "Main Street Architecture" buildings along these perimeters to give an urban edge back to the streetscape. Looking across from the Oversen Building and the Washington Theatre south now, it is a very depressing view of a wide expanse of a parking lot with no buildings to frame the view and not a pleasant or interesting walk for pedestrians.
Lake Washington Village has suffered much from the declines of the 1970's through the 1990's. How do we change the ambiance from check cashing outlets, payday loan shops, storefront churches, liquor stores, filling stations and auto repair into a village of a hardware store, a theater, art galleries, coffee houses, antique shops, nice restaurants, a bike shop and specialty shops, as was once more the case? Did you know that the Union 76 gas station is built on the site of a former popular soda fountain and ice cream shop and that the other two corners had drug stores and the fourth had a Van de Kamp's Bakery?
It will take each and one of us to voice our wishes to the City of Pasadena and our respective neighborhood associations and to the business people we wish to see flourish in our neighborhood Lake Washington Village. We will make it happen!