A Glittering Evening Paying Tribute to a Historical Mansion

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From STAFF REPORTS

4:28 pm | October 5, 2012


With their hands on massive gold scissors glinting in the sun and surrounded by a contingent of individuals who spearheaded the Fenyes Mansion renovation project, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, PMH President Laura Thompson, and Paul Halme, President of the Paloheimo Trust, cut the bright red ribbon and bid everyone “Welcome to the Fenyes Mansion.”

The Fenyes Mansion, which was converted into a museum after the Curtin-Paloheimo family donated it to the Pasadena Museum of History, has become an inspiration for the future that “we all should preserve for the next generation,” said, Paul O. Halme, Chairman of the  Paloheimo Foundation during the reopening of the Pasadena Museum of History Fenyes Mansion last Saturday, September 29.

The event, which was attended by Who’s Who in Pasadena’s society, included business and community leaders, civic officials, educators, volunteers, and friends. All were allowed to tour the newly refurbished mansion that has undergone a $1.7 million rehabilitation. The reconstruction gave the mansion a sparkling new look.

Halme said in his speech, “Thank you all for coming tonight. I know the founders [of the foundation] are overjoyed to be here tonight and see all these happen. We are very proud of what’s happening here. …We appreciate you all for coming tonight and we appreciate you.”

According to Halme, the mansion has now become an inspiration and an important historical part of Pasadena.

“Projects like this are an inspiration for the future. This attendance is an affirmation of that inspiration which leads to promise of aspiration. I want to congratulate the Pasadena Museum of History and its Board for taking this project on with us. Today is the resolution of that work,” he said.

Pasadena Museum of History Executive Director Jeannette O’Malley acknowledged the support and contribution of the Paloheimo Foundation for funding the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Fenyes Mansion that began three years ago and forced the museum to close it to the public for two years.

The construction involved the installation of a centralized air conditioning unit around the house, not only for the convenience of Museum staff and guests, but also to preserve the important historical art collections as well as the artefacts inside the house.

One of the honorees during the gala, Bill Cruise, gave all the credit for the success of the museum’s reopening to O’Malley and her staff.

Cruise said, “We did not do much [about the rehabilitation] but show up. One famous person once said, ‘The key to good management is to surround yourself with people of excellent skills and get out of the way.’ And that is exactly what we did here. The real credit for all of the success around here goes to Jeannette O’Malley and her wonderful staff for putting together not only tonight’s event but the success of this entire institution. That is where the real credit should go tonight.”

O’Malley thanked the volunteers for their “invaluable contribution” for the completion of the project and the successful organizing of the gala.

The glittering evening, which celebrated both a milestone achievement and the extraordinary generosity of The Paloheimo Foundation and dedication of the seven 2012 Contemporary History Makers – Karen Craig, Don Fedde, Janet Kadin, William F. Kruse, Laura Thompson, Randolph G. Wilson, and Fred G. Zepeda – raised $130,000 in support of the Museum’s award-winning education programs.

Fenyes Mansion & The Paloheimo Foundation
The 1906 Beaux Arts Fenyes Mansion is unique historically, having housed four generations of the Fenyes-Curtin-Paloheimo family, with the original décor of the early 1900s preserved largely unchanged.  In 1970, the Curtin-Paloheimo family gave the impressive Fenyes art and antique collection to the Museum.  Today the legacy of this philanthropic family is carried on by the Paloheimo Foundation.  For over two years the Foundation has generously funded a major renovation project spending more than 1.7 million dollars on the interior and exterior of the Mansion. Together the Foundation and the Museum present the Fenyes Mansion to the public, interweaving the story of the remarkable Fenyes-Curtin-Paloheimo family with information about the architectural details, fine antique furnishings and artwork, and social customs of the early twentieth century.