Rare Fireplace Created by Famous Pasadena Arts and Crafts Ceramicist Faces Uncertain Future

Published : Thursday, October 11, 2018 | 4:35 PM

Ernest Batchelder, a famous Pasadena tile maker and designer, shown inspecting one of his works, a frame holding tiles. Circa 1930. From the Security Pacific National Bank Photo Collection maintained by the Los Angeles Public Library

A rare fireplace created by famed Pasadena ceramicist and leader in the Arts and Crafts Movement Ernest Allan Batchelder will have to be moved, but where nobody knows.

The hearth, which sits in a former home (now a storage facility) at the corner of Jessen and Palm Drives in Altacanyada, is believed to have been crafted by Batchelder in the 1920’s when Bullock’s Department Store owner John Gillespie Bullock and his wife owned the property.

But the home lost most of its luster when it was purchased by the La Cañada Unified School District in 1955, two years before Batchelder died in 1957. Now a storage space for the school district, the brown and blue fireplace is rarely seen, hidden by piles of boxes.

That changed on Wednesday when Batchelder’s grandson and Northern California resident Alan Batchelder visited the property with his wife Katherine, according to the L.A. Times.

“I don’t get a lot of attention unless I’m in Pasadena,” he told the Times, adding as the grandson of Southern California’s famed tile-maker, he sometimes takes his grandfather’s art for granted.

However, that could change. Batchelder was informed that the home will soon be torn down to make way for more parking and administrative space needed by the school district.

La Cañada School District Assistant Superintendent of Business and Administrative Services Mark Evans suggested Batchelder could help find the fireplace a new home, according to the Times.

“If you did take it out, that would be the lions’ share of its value,” Evans said.

If Batchelder does not decide to take the fireplace, Evans said he hopes it can be saved and preserved in Pasadena.




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