Tuesday, May 17, 2011

White House Country Store, 188 S. Lake Avenue, Pasadena, Oak Knoll Shopping District

This postcard is probably from the late 1930's, when Lake Avenue south of Colorado was known as the Oak Knoll Shopping District and was served by the Pacific Electric Streetcars.

As you probably know, Lake Avenue turns into Oak Knoll Avenue south of California Boulevard, with a few shops still south of California, such as the very old French Laundry and the former Jurgensens Market, now Fresh and Easy. The stretch north of California to about Green Street was made up of residential dwellings, many converted by the 1930's into retail establishments, similar to what is seen on North Lake north of the freeway today going up into Altadena.

South Lake remained nearly only residential structures, with restaurants and retail in some, until 1947 when the fashionable Bullocks Department Store was built just south of Del Mar. With the opening of Bullocks, more and more purpose built retail came to South Lake, such as I. Magnin moving from their beautiful Beaux Arts Style Colorado and Madison shop location to a new Streamline Moderne Style building just south of Bullocks, this in 1949.

Still, South Lake had many old homes hosting retail and dining up until the 1960's, when the Union Bank project between Cordova and Del Mar was built, spelling the demise of the charming Oak Knoll Shopping District and ushering in the upscale South Lake Shopping District.

A Japanese Florist managed to survive in a Victorian Style home just south of Wells Fargo Bank up until the 1990's, when it was demolished and replaced with a modern building. The Magnolia Lounge Speakeasy Bar just south of the Mobil Station, 492 South Lake, is located in a bungalow which has survived, well worth a visit. Another large home survives in the middle of the block on the east side at 142 South Lake, the present home of the Williams-Sonoma store.

The White House Country Store looks so inviting with its old wagons in front and promise of antiques. What antiques may have been available in 1939? Perhaps a Wells Fargo strongbox or an 1849 gold panning dish? One can only imagine.


  1. The way you describe the old district makes me nostalgic for it even though I never saw it. I tend to prefer older buildings anyway. I never noticed Williams-Sonoma was in an old house! And now, of course, I must go to the Magnolia Lounge.

    Thanks for a great post.

  2. Civil War memorabilia, maybe. Something from the Indiana Colony -- or maybe that was too recent.

    There's something so inviting about this scene.

  3. Thal, between Wolfe Burgers (46 N. Lake) and Art & Antiques on Lake (60 N. Lake) there's an old house. You can see it on Google Street View. Nothing special, except it's still there. Is it an old one, do you think?

  4. Petrea,
    We have a number of bungalows left on or near North Lake Avenue in the vicinity of my office; the one at the location you mention is almost directly under my office window and houses two different barber shops on the ground floor and an apartment above. The bungalow looks to be from around 1915 and has an outside staircase on the north side leading up to the apartment on the second floor.
    Vielleicht etwas aus dem Busch Garten, in dem der Garten so um 1937 geschlossen wurde.

  5. Why you talking German to Karin? She's Norwegian.

    I wish South Lake hadn't gone so corporate. There are some really boring office blocks on the west side between Cordova and Del Mar, so I never use the sidewalk on that side. And the worst building surely has to be the block at the southeast corner of California and Oak Knoll/Lake. But now I'm going to start looking out for the old bungalows and houses - thanks for the story.

  6. No matter. I understand, TA.
    I'm calling you the Honorary Mayor of Lake Avenue. Another excellent history class, TA!

  7. Love the picture. I would have had no idea this was Pasadena, except for the address and phone number underneath the name, Amy D. Pottery. SY-6-0617 was another way of saying 796-0617, the SY corresponding to the letters on the dial on the phone. I know this having grown up in Altadena, and our prefix was SY, but we would give our number as SYcamore 8 ****. Back then, we were all 213 area code, all the way down to San Diego!

  8. Ken R came to the Pasa Citihall tour I helped organize last year. Btw, KR, what's the latest on the old PSNews bldg here on Colorado Bl??