Take a Spoken Tour of South Orange Grove Boulevard, From Glorious Past to Handsome Present

Published : Saturday, October 26, 2019 | 5:04 AM

The reason we use “road” as a metaphor for life is that it tells a story and South Orange Grove Boulevard’s will be served up at the Pasadena Rotary Club’s upcoming luncheon. If you’re interested, you can go. It’s open to the public.

“From Millionaires’ Mansions to Garden Apartments: Pasadena’s South Orange Grove Boulevard,” will be the subject of a talk by architectural historian Lesse Lattig on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the University Club.

The presentation will explore the origins of South Orange Grove Boulevard and the factors that influenced its 150-year trajectory from a dirt road between orange groves to a stately avenue of millionaires’ mansions to today’s busy boulevard of mid-century garden apartments and contemporary condominiums.

Pasadena’s architectural legacy is known for its high concentration of grand mansions and quaint bungalows. Often overlooked is that with every wave of population growth, the City experienced a correlating wave of multifamily housing construction.

Beginning with turn-of-the-century bungalow courts, then courtyard apartments in the 1920s, followed by post World War II garden apartments, and later the 1970s condominium complex, these medium-density housing products emerged as the middle-ground between the competing urban and suburban impulses at play in Pasadena.

The story about this transition is illustrated with historic photographs, publicity brochures, sales contracts, insurance maps, building permits, and architectural drawings.

The roles of local architecture schools, changing concepts in landscape design, shifting regional demographics, and changes in construction finance are revealed. Parallels with today’s public debate around growth, density, and mansionization show how South Orange Grove could serve as both precedent and warning.

Lattig has a master’s degree in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania. She served as Preservation Director at Pasadena Heritage from 2013 to 2017. Today, she is a Senior Field Officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation in its Los Angeles Field Office, where she is engaged in a variety of historic preservation projects from Seattle to Las Vegas.

12 noon at the University Club of Pasadena. Buffet lunch on Wednesday is $33, which includes complimentary valet parking. The meeting is open to the public. No RSVP is required. The University Club of Pasadena is at 175 North Oakland Avenue. For inquiries, email office@pasadenarotary.com.

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