Historic 1948 House Considered for Landmark Status

Published : Monday, July 15, 2019 | 4:47 AM

Pasadena’s City Council will deliberate Monday on a recommendation to designate the residence at 280 California Terrace as a landmark, since it qualifies for designation as it embodies the distinctive characteristics of a locally significant property type, architectural style and period.

The house, a report by the Department of Planning and Community Development for the City Council, is a locally significant example of a Mid-Century Modern style house designed by locally significant architect Thornton Ladd (1924-2010).

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Ladd studied architecture at USC after serving in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1945, and established his own practice with offices in Pasadena and Santa Barbara.

Well-known for his attention to detail and concept of combining landscaping with interior and exterior design, Ladd’s designs often featured indoor fountains and the extensive use of glass walls and skylights.

In 1957, the American Institute of Architects, in association with Sunset Magazine, honored him for the design of his mother’s home at 1085 Glen Oaks Boulevard, built in 1949 when he was only 25 years old. The following year, Ladd received an AlA Award of Merit for his own studio at 1083 Glen Oaks Boulevard, built in 1950.

The residence at 280 California Terraces, built in 1948, is located within the eligible Arbor Street Landmark District in Pasadena, which is in the western portion of the City east of the Arroyo Seco and between California Terrace and Grand Avenue.

Surrounding the property are older structures from the mid-century period – a relatively large grouping of properties that is somewhat of an anomaly, the Planning Department said.

The properties are within a steep hillside area; however, the pattern of the lots and streets is uniform as opposed to the curving, irregular pattern in most hillside areas, especially those west of the Arroyo Seco.

Most of the houses are single-story, flat-roofed houses with a horizontal orientation in the Mid-century Modern and Modern Ranch styles. The international style house at 580 Arbor Street, for example, is three stories in height and the house at 591 Arbor Street has a lower half story on the descending slope. The two houses at the north end of the district, 280 and 287 California Terrace are three and two stories in height, respectively, according to the report.

The house at 280 California Terraces have undergone renovations and exterior changes, including the conversion of a carport to a garage and the addition of a guestroom and bath. The exterior, however, is largely intact.

The Planning Department said the City’s Historic Preservation Commission has discussed the recommendation during its meeting on June 4 and has recommended that the City Council approve the designation of the house and accessory structures as a Landmark.

On Monday, the City Council could decide to adopt a resolution approving a Declaration of Landmark Designation for the property. Once the resolution is adopted, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek will be authorized to execute a Declaration of Landmark Designation for the residence. The declaration will be recorded with the Los Angeles County Recorder.

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