Pasadena Showcase ‘Empty House’ Fills With Friends

Vikki Sung and Marilyn AndersonFrom left, Jennifer Flint, Chini Johnson-Taylor, Katherine Watkins and Barbara Lyle2018 Pasadena Showcase HouseDana Marevich and Lynn MehlSuzette Cummings, Rosita Nazarian, Steve Thompson and Caroline Thompson2018 Pasadena Showcase HouseKaren Schlosser and Krista BadeyDesigner Rozita NazarianPasadena Show Case House Chairs mingleMonica HongFrom left: Ava Wagner, Jennifer Olguin, Elizabeth Lamont, Meredith IngersollLandscape designer Libby SimonDesigner Ken MoffattDotty Ewing 2018 Pasadena Showcase HouseDesigner Dina Marcelano2018 Pasadena Showcase House

By EDDIE RIVERA, Community Editor | Photography by JAMES CARBONE

6:40 am | January 22, 2018

Nearly 500 friends, guests and members of the media were delivered high up into the hills of Altadena on a drizzly night Friday for the 54th annual 2018 “Empty House” preview party.

The private soirée is the first glimpse of this year’s Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts home, which will be renovated by dozens of Pasadena-area designers (PSHA)  for the 2018 Pasadena Showcase House of Design.

PSHA, founded in 1948, and formerly known as The Pasadena Junior Philharmonic Committee, created the Pasadena Showcase House of Design as their annual benefit in 1965.  It has now become one of the oldest, largest and most successful house and garden tours in the nation.

As guests dined on mountains of shrimp and sushi, soups, salads and desserts, they strolled through this year’s home — a 12,277 square-foot Mediterranean-style mansion, and guest home designed by architect Reginald Davis Johnson and constructed in 1915 at a cost of $14,000 for widowed sisters Ruth Hargrove and Mary Emma Baker. The home, called “The Overlook,” was expanded in 1925.

The 1.6 acre compound includes a pool, a kitchen garden; guest house garden, and an olive court.

“This is a really special event,” said Lynn Mehl, of the PSHA. “It’s an opportunity for people to see what we have have in store for the house as well as a celebration for our members.

Once fully renovated, the home will be open to tours in April, which support the main goal of the organization, which is the support of local music programs for Pasadena-area school children. The group sponsors classes, performances, and training as well as field trips.

In fact, since 1948, the group has provided over $21 million in gifts and grants to support the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walt Disney Concert Hall and local symphonic, cultural and educational programs, including concerts, choral productions, musical theater, opera, jazz quartets, marching bands and orchestras at local schools, senior centers and many other non-profit organizations. The group also sponsors music therapy for at-risk children, scholarships for young musicians and music education at a variety of levels.

In addition to supporting music education and concerts, nearly $600,000 in prize money has been awarded at PSHA’s Instrumental Competition, first established in 1985. Young musicians, aged 16 to 24, compete annually for about $30,000 in monetary prizes in the categories of strings, woodwinds and brass to further their music education.

As PSHA Benefit Chair Victoria Sung remembered, “About ten years ago,  I went with my son’s class to a concert at Disney Hall. I knew about the Showcase House a little, but I remember when they announced that the performance and trip were sponsored by the Pasadena Showcase House, and that’s when it all clicked for me.”

In the home itself, oversized Lindsey Adelman chandeliers light the front grand foyer entry and its marble floors, soaring ceilings, spiraling pillars, modern glass balustrades, and oversized windows and French doors.

The main residence includes a kitchen and butler’s pantry; dining room, living room, billiards Room and petite lounge; a library; powder room and family room.

Up the main staircase is the mezzanine, which leads to the master bedroom suite, which includes morning and exercise rooms; a “modern man’s retreat” (think “man cave”); media room and bath; teen suite and an au pair’s suite.

The guest house encompasses a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bath..

Renovations began anew after the estate was first presented as the 2002 Pasadena Showcase House of Design. Subsequent owners have added newer  elements to suit their personal taste.

Interestingly, the current owners, as part of the showcase house agreement, actually vacated the home in January, and are required to live elsewhere during the construction and tour phase. They should return to their “new” home again in July, said Sung.

The Pasadena Showcase House of Design offers much more than house and garden tours. Special Package Tickets can be purchased online only at

At $75, Platinum Tickets are good for one admittance any day and time the Showcase House is open for tours with a special new feature: it now allows you to bypass the line. Should there be a line when you arrive, ask for assistance at the Ticket Booth and a Showcase Docent will escort you to another entrance to bypass the line. Platinum Tickets cost $75.  Quantities are limited and will only be on sale through January 31, 2018.

Regular Tickets go on sale in early February 1, 2018 and will be available online at or by calling (714) 442-3872. The 2018 Pasadena Showcase House of Design will be open to the public from April 22 to May 20, 2018.