California Terrace Home Likely to be Approved by Committee as Newest City Landmark Property

Published : Monday, June 3, 2019 | 5:03 AM

Locally significant architect Thornton Ladd (shown above in 1975) designed the outstanding example of a Mid-Century Modern residence that is 280 California Terrace. Image courtesy YouTube

A 3,824-square-foot single-family residence at 280 California Terrace in Pasadena, designed by Thornton Ladd and built in 1948, could soon be the City’s newest landmark.

In March, the owner of the property submitted an application for its designation as a landmark. Since then, staff from the Department of Planning and Community Development has evaluated the property and determined that the house qualifies for designation, because “it embodies the distinct characteristics of a locally significant property type, architectural style and period and represents the work of an architect whose work is significant to the City.”

This finding will be submitted Tuesday, June 4, to the Historic Preservation Commission, along with the recommendation to approve the property’s designation as a landmark, which the City Council could take up by next week.

A staff report by the Planning Department showed the “mid-century modern style house,” a one-story structure over a semi-subterranean basement, is located on a sloping, wooded, irregularly-shaped parcel on the east bank of the Arroyo Seco, accessed from the north end of California Terrace by a private road and flanked on all sides by other single-family residences.

The house is located within the eligible Arbor Street Landmark District in the western portion of Pasadena east of the Arroyo Seco, and between California Terrace and Grand Avenue, the report said.

Thornton Ladd, who was born in Portland, Oregon in 1924, completed his architectural education and training at USC, and gained practical experience in Los Angeles. He started his own practice with offices in Pasadena and Santa Barbara, and later partnered with fellow USC graduate John Kelsey to form Ladd and Kelsey, setting up an office at 79 N. Pasadena Avenue.

In Pasadena, his projects include his mother’s house at 1085 Glen Oaks Blvd., the Ladd House at 1280 Glen Oaks and the Ladd Studio at 1083 Glen Oaks, built in 1950.

Under the Ladd and Kelsey partnership, their best-known work in the City is the Pasadena Museum of Art, now the Norton Simon Museum at 411 W. Colorado Blvd.

They also designed the First City Bank building at 123-137 S. Lake Avenue, built in 1961.

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