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Langham Pasadena Reopens Historic Old Picture Bridge After Renovation

Painted during the Great Depression, the scenes depict iconic California buildings and landscapes as seen in the 1930's

Published on Monday, November 30, 2020 | 1:25 pm
 
The Picture Bridge at the Langham Huntington, Pasadena. (Photo credit Kevin Edge Photography)

The historic Picture Bridge at the Langham Pasadena has reopened to the public after a months-long renovation project that included recreating 41 paintings of California scenes that have adorned the structure since 1933, the hotel announced last week.

The hotel used the pandemic-related closure in March to perform a multimillion-dollar structure upgrade.

The new incarnation of the bridge is made from original Douglas fir, new redwood and pressure-treated wood and steel, said Langham Pasadena spokeswoman Susan Williger.

The 41 paintings that adorned the bridge’s Gables since painter  Frank M. Moore painted them in 1933 were removed from the bridge in 2013 to protect them from weathering, Williger explained.

“The original oil paintings by Frank M. Moore were removed from the Bridge in an effort to halt their deterioration and stored in a climate-controlled art-storage facility where they continue to reside,” said Williger. “Facsimiles of the original oil-paintings which date back to 1933 have been developed, installed, and once again grace the Picture Bridge.”

Moore was an Englishman who immigrated to the United States. He had studied at the Liverpool Art School and the Royal Institute, and served as the first director of the Honolulu Museum of Art before moving to California in 1928.

The Picture Bridge at the Huntington Hotel, circa 1940 (Courtesy of Pasadena Museum of History; Postcard Collection)

During the Great Depression, the then-Huntington Hotel’s manager Steven Royce commissioned Moore to paint the oil paintings. Moore reportedly became a guest of the Hotel during the painting of the pictures. He died in 1967.

Not only are the paintings now been recreated to their original appearance, but the bridge itself has been rejuvenated.

“During construction, the existing terracotta clad gable roof was shored in place while new wood and steel supports were installed. The original reinforced concrete piers and abutments were reused without any intervention,” she said. “All of the steel reinforcement is hidden by wood in order to preserve the visual appearance and physical characteristics of the bridge’s historic character.”

Workers were able to save much of the bridge’s original lumber, Williger added.

Architect Robert Chattel helped lead the renovation project, she said.

The Picture Bridge at the Huntington Hotel, n.d. (Courtesy of Pasadena Museum of History; Postcard Collection)

“Rehabilitation of the Picture Bridge is an engineering marvel in that the structural intervention is entirely hidden and historic materials were retained in place or salvaged and reused,” according to Chattel. “Most importantly, an additional structural support at the center long span of the bridge, apparently installed about 1990, was removed. The clear span is now supported by the hidden steel beneath the wood cladding.”

Recreations of Moore’s original paintings have been created and affixed to the bridge, with the originals placed in storage for safekeeping, Willinger said.

“Mr. Moore received $10 for each of the 41 paintings and all the food he and his wife could eat, a valuable benefit during the Great Depression,” she said. The outdoor bridge is available for public viewing, although hotel social distancing guidelines will be enforced, according to the Langham.

Everyone must wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet apart while in public areas of the hotel, Williger said. All guests are screened for fevers, and self-parking is now offered, in addition to the normal valet parking.

More information on the Langham Pasadena is available on the hotel’s website at langhamhotels.com/en/the-langham/pasadena.

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