Pasadena's Thorndike District Earns Landmark Status

Council, on community recommendation, removes Madrillo homes from historic landmark status

Published : Tuesday, April 25, 2017 | 5:31 AM


The Pasadena City Monday evening officially declared its 24th landmark since 1989, adding the Thorndike-Madrillo Landmark District to the list. Except for Madrillo.

Excluding the cul-de-sac which abuts the row of houses off San Gabriel Avenue, the City Council unanimously approved the designation for the application, led by architect Abraham Chorbajian, on behalf of the supporting property owners.

The new proposed boundaries of the district will include all 29 RS-4, single-family properties on Thorndike Road and exclude the nine homes on Madrillo Street.

A number of Thorndike residents spoke out before the council in favor of the designation, as well as a number of Madrillo residents who asked that their homes be excluded.

The district is significant, according to the report prepared for the council, because it is a collection of residential buildings that represent architectural styles and development patterns identified as significant in the City’s 2007 study “Cultural Resources of the Recent Past.”

According to the City staff report, one of the buildings in the original proposed boundaries was built in 1927, two were built in 1950, 28 were built in 1951, two were built in 1961 and four were built in 1962.

Also, two of the buildings in the district were designed by a significant architect: Nyberg & Bissner, while unknown architect Doug P. Wakeland designed four houses in the district.

Significant landscape architect Courtland Paul is also noted on a building permit for one property as having designed “concrete and brick walks, garden walls and planters, property fence, and garden deck and shelter.”

Several builders are noted on multiple permits, as well—Coronado Enterprises, Beauman Company, Altadena Development Company, and Wilson and Kleefeld. City staff was, however, unable to find sufficient information about these builders to determine their significance.

The proposed landmark district, according to the staff report, is a grouping of single-family residential buildings built between 1950 and 1962 which “represent architectural styles and development patterns identified as significant in the City’s 2007 study Cultural Resources of the Recent Past.’
Criteria for Designation.”

In addition, most of the residential buildings in the district were built between 1950 and 1962, the period of significance, and 28 remain largely intact on their street- facing elevations, according to the staff report.

Sixty-two percent of the owners in the proposed of the properties within the district boundary signified their support for landmark district designation in writing, more than the required 51%. According to the staff presentation, the properties on Madrillo Court could be added to the landmark district at a later date, if a majority of the property owners sign a petition in support of the designation.

The landmark district designation will owners of the landmark district properties to apply for a Historic Property Contract, through the state Mills Act, which allows a reduction of property tax in exchange for the continued preservation of the property.

Monday evening’s council meeting was also distinctive, as the first portion of the meeting—the consent calendar section—was led by Vice Mayor Gene Masuda.

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