Pasadena Heritage Hosts Elegant and Enchanting “Pillars of South Orange Grove”

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Article and Photography by RACHEL YOUNG

6:42 am | July 14, 2013


Pasadena Heritage hosted an elegant and enchanting evening at the Hulett Merrit mansion on July 13 to celebrate the history of South Orange Grove and honor organizations who have created and perpetuated the unique character and charm of Pasadena.

“We wanted to celebrate the past, present and future of South Orange Grove because its such an iconic part of town and the five institutions that helped preserve it,” event chair Jon Wright said.

The honorees of the evening who have been the “pillars’ of South Orange Grove in terms of preserving traditions and architecture include Westridge School for Girls, the Tournament of Roses Association, the West Pasadena Residents Association, The Valley Hunt Club, and City Ventures will be the distinguished honorees for the evening.

“We really are honored. This is the oldest part of Pasadena and its appropriate for Valley Hunt Club to be included, I think were probably the oldest social club in Pasadena,” Don Crumrine of the Valley Hunt Club said.

The pulsing heartbeat that shaped Pasadena’s unique character from the beginning and made Pasadena’s name known throughout the globe all began on South Orange Grove. The Valley Hunt Club actually launched the iconic Rose parade with flowerdecked carriages and later turned the responsibility over to the Tournament of Roses.

Although the man himself was not present, world-renowned artist Kenton Nelson’s remarks in the anticipation of the unveiling of his newest piece were the highlight of the cocktail portion of the evening,

“Art should be controversial, so this is my first controversial bridge painting. I took some liberties, you will notice that they are all politically incorrect,” Nelson explained in a letter he gave to Sue Mossman before the event.

The newest painting of the Colorado Street Bridge is absolutely stunning and unlike any previous pieces. The painting is photo realistic rather than an impressionist style.

“Although this is the first painting of the bridge that includes a figure, the figure was used to show the scale of our beautiful bridge and if the figure happens to be a shapely woman, which is also politically incorrect,” Nelson said. “In my opinion the bridge’s most wonderful viewpoint is from the foot of it. I have made the curve red for color and because it represents overregulation’s, that makes the entire painting politically incorrect.”

Prior to the event a few hiccups surfaced due to the construction on the surrounding areas. Yet this fact truly helped Pasadena heritage merge the past with the future and be a part of a historical building on the verge of big change.

“We’ve been challenged by the fact that its been a construction site for six months and an entire building has been demolished while we’ve been planning the event. The demolition was going on until yesterday,” event planner Lauren Godsil said

Godsil planned specialty cocktails for the event including the Merritt Mansion Mojito and a blood orange martini with an edible orchid and spritz of orange water so you smell orange.

“With the colors we went really classic gold inside the mansion to bring out the woods and then outside we went purples, reds and oranges to draw away from the demo,” Godsil said.

The evening went smashingly well, allowing guests to mingle and congratulate the five pillars of South Orange Grove.

“We are very dependent upon this kind of thing to keep the mission going. Our programs are always top notch, always first class, we don’t cut corners well. We want to do everything right,” event chair Jon Wright said.

Pasadena Heritage is a nonprofit historic preservation organization founded in 1977. It is one of the oldest historic preservation groups in Southern California and the second largest in the state. The mission of Pasadena Heritage is to identify, preserve and protect the historic, architectural, and cultural resources of the City of Pasadena through advocacy, education, and oral histories.