Friday, April 2, 2010

Mystery History -- Solved (Really)

Bellis wins for her 2:34 p.m. Wednesday guess "Fire at the Orban Lumber Yard at the corner of Green Street and Pasadena Avenue on the 23 March 1958. Sad to see so much wood go up in smoke."

Sure enough, in the photo above, the place went up in a blaze of glory after 54 years of business.

This was no small incident, as evidenced in these photos:

The fire was in the pre-dawn hours of March 23, 1958.

Established in 1904, Orban Lumber was a fixture in town until the fateful night of the devastating fire. It was founded by Peter Orban, who became a prominent Pasadena businessman active in the Chamber of Commerce. Orban Lumber expanded into Whittier in 1913 and the Inland Empire soon after.

Pasadena was incorporated as a city in 1886 and the Pasadena Fire Department was established the following year with a whopping budget of $1,000.

It took a little time to get the ball rolling. The event that started it all was in 1885 when some boys threw a stone into a building that was being used by Chinese immigrants as a laundry. The stone tipped over a kerosene lamp, starting a fire that burned the building to the ground.

Here's a photo circa 1910 of a horse-drawn fire wagon in Central Park.

Pasadena's very first fire station was on Dayton Street between Fair Oaks and De Lacey. The building still stands today at 37 W. Dayton St.

The Pasadena Fire Museum is at Station 31, 135 S. Fair Oaks Ave. right across the street from Central Park and around the corner from that first station. Stop by sometime and take a look at the historic photos and other memorabilia.

And be sure to say hello and thanks to the firefighters while you're there!


altadenahiker said...

I'm getting a little tired of Bellis. How many pens does she need, anyway?

kevin at Time River Productions said...

That 1910 photo of the fire wagon shows the Doty Block in the background, later to become the Mikado Hotel and the Hotel Carver. It is a rare photo, as that building is not seen in many photographs in that era.

As I recall, that fire in the Chinese laundry was the beginning of one of the black periods in Indiana Colony history when the town voted to exclude all people of Chinese descent, and banished them to outside the Colony, to properties south of California Blvd. near where the city dump was at the time. I read that in some history book once. My memory is that the laundry was located on Fair Oaks, just south of Colorado. How times have changed!

Bellis said...

I did graciously wait until the afternoon to give everyone a crack at winning, Karin. And hey, Petrea says that Ann's prizes generate goodwill for the city. Right now, I'm feeling VERY goodwilled about Pasadena, though I fear they may have to charge us a new parcel tax to pay for all the prizes.

Petrea said...

Congratulations, Bellis! Fair and square. I'm happy to pay a prize tax so you can win and we can keep playing Mystery History.

Kevin and I both zoned in on that fire wagon photo. It's thrilling to see a 1910 shot of two buildings that still exist--a shot we could take today, almost.

Cafe Pasadena said...

I'm in agreement with KB de A-Hiker, as usual.
At least I've dropped out of seriously contending for the fabulous city treasures. She should at least graciously contract with some starving Altadenawriter to begin her own blog.

Anonymous said...

That's my grampa's lumber yard, oh wow. My dad later expanded organ lumber to the inland empire.