After 45 years on staff and 30 years as Executive Director of Pasadena Heritage, Sue Mossman has announced her plans to retire in the spring of 2024.
Mossman relocated to Pasadena in 1976. At that time there was a call to demolish or reconfigure long-standing landmarks in favor of building generic high-rises.
Mossman had fallen in love with her home and the historic Madison Heights neighborhood was instrumental in starting Pasadena Heritage in order to help stem the tides of change.
Pasadena Heritage announced Wednesday that a Search Committee has been formed, including current and past Board members, to find and hire a new Executive Director.
During Mossman’s tenure as Executive Director, she championed Bullock’s Pasadena (now Macy’s) as an exceptional historic place and a better retail solution that left the building standing, visible, and still a real department store on South Lake Avenue.
She also fought to save the Stuart Pharmaceutical Company building on East Foothill, a Modern masterpiece that was threatened with demolition. It is now the centerpiece of a housing project and also houses an imaginative theater production organization, A Noise Within.
Mossman also worked to create Heritage Housing Partners and completed its first four projects, which rehabilitated individual modest homes, working with the City to make them affordable ownership opportunities. (Heritage Housing Partners was spun off as a separate, and very successful, non-profit providing affordable housing.)
She also fought to end the 710 Freeway threat and restore a southwest Pasadena historic community, so heavily and negatively impacted by Caltrans ownership, to a real neighborhood once again.
But her biggest coup may have been creating the biennial Colorado Street Bridge Party. The giant landmark is closed to traffic for one night every other June in order to host concerts, food trucks and thousands of people enjoying the chance to walk freely on the historic structure amid a stunning sunset view of the Arroyo Seco. Yet aside from all the fun aspects of the evenings, the people who attend the Bridge Party are also essential fundraisers for the bridge’s preservation.
“I love this organization and am proud of all we’ve accomplished — offering great programs about history and architecture and fighting to preserve Pasadena’s rich and rare architectural legacy. Seeing the organization accomplish so much and grow in effectiveness has been immensely rewarding!” said Mossman.
Mossman was also on the forefront of the battle to preserve the National Historic Landmark Rose Bowl and thwarting the threat of its being rebuilt as a contemporary NFL stadium.
She also saw the growing number of Landmark Districts throughout the City, legislation originally proposed by Pasadena Heritage that allows neighborhoods to nominate themselves as historic districts.
Other accomplishments include acquiring the historic 1906 Blinn House from the Pasadena Women’s City Club of Pasadena and engaging with the many community groups who use Pasadena Heritage’s new historic headquarters for meetings and events.
And very recently, helping to engineer a turnaround for the new Porsche dealership project that will now save the historic Swanson and Peterson Furniture Factory at the intersection of North Sunnyslope Avenue and East Walnut Avenue, an important early daylight-lit factory building.
“The Board is dedicated to finding the best possible new leader and making this transition as smooth as possible,” said Suzanne Marks, Pasadena Heritage chair. “Every one of us deeply admires Sue and all her fine work, and we’ll be very sorry to see her go. But we honor her wish to retire, and our goal is to support the organization in every way possible as we plan for the future.”
Mossman expressed her gratitude and appreciation for those she has worked with throughout the past several decades, and reflected on the bright future ahead for Pasadena Heritage and its new leadership.
“I’ve always been joined by an exceptional team of staff members, Board members, volunteers, and members. We’ve received support from the business and non-profit communities as well, and developed an open working relationship with the City. It has always been a team effort for which I will be forever grateful! I know the organization is strong and effective and can be even more so as new chapters unfold. I look forward to seeing that happen,” said Mossman.