Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mystery History -- Solved!


Wanda wins with her 7:24 p.m. Tuesday guess "guests are enjoying their stay at the Arroyo Vista Guest House, which later became the Vista del Arroyo Hotel (quite a renovation) and is now the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals."

In the circa 1890 photo above, guests congregate outside the Arroyo Vista Guest House.

This photo is circa 1888:


Mrs. Emma C. Bangs purchased the plot of land -- several acres -- between Orange Grove and the Arroyo Seco in 1882.

The Arroyo Vista Guest House was a boarding house and hotel that served winter tourists, travelers and several people with lung disorders who had come west for a climate more tolerable for their conditions.

Here's a really fun excerpt from my favorite local reference book, "Pasadena: Historical and Personal" by J.W. Wood, published in 1917, which can be found in the Centennial Room at Pasadena Central Library:

There are many ways that might be sought to amuse. Even the sick can find opportunities. Mrs. Jennie Banbury Ford furnishes the following as illustration.

"When Mrs. Bangs' boarding house was most flourishing, there were many consumptives coming and going. It became so depressing it was suggested that they band themselves together under the head of "the busted lung brigade," and create more hopeful and cheerful feeling. The suggestion was carried out and proved very successful. They elected officers, had a beautiful silk banner with "B.L.B." embroidered on it and met all "busted lungers" with open arms. Those whose stay was ended were started on their several ways with smiles and cheers. Each member was compelled to sign the by-laws, which were amusing at least. They must not sit in a draft, must consume just so much milk and so many eggs each day and look after each other's comfort, etc. To help the fun along, Mrs. Bangs bought a parrot in Los Angeles who knew how to cough exactly like a "lunger" and contributed much to the amusement. I don't believe a more grotesque club ever existed, do you? It lasted for several years."

The guest house was eventually demolished and then rebuilt in 1920 as the magnificent, 400-room Vista del Arroyo Hotel designed by architects Sylvanus Marston & Garrett Van Pelt. A year later, architect Myron Hunt added his touches, which transformed it into the resort hotel that became so famous for so many years.


In this undated photo guests are in front of the east wing of the hotel with a trellis over the main entrance:


In this 1940s photo a fashion show is taking place on the lower portion of the property:


Here's another view of the lower grounds:


Its life as a hotel ended in 1943 when it was procured by the federal government under the War Powers Act to serve as a U.S. Army hospital. From 1951 to 1974 the building housed a number of federal agencies. It was remodeled again, and since 1981 has served as the Ninth Circuit U.S. Federal Court of Appeals.

The interior is just as spectacular as the exterior:


Here's one of the courtrooms:


There's a nice little history on the federal General Services Administration site.

Tours are offered by appointment: (626) 229-7250

I've been there a few times, mostly for staff and board retreats in one of their community rooms.

I've always loved this photo, which is courtesy of the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau:




Many thanks to the Pasadena Museum of History, University of Southern California and Richard H. Chambers U.S. Court of Appeals.

5 comments:

Jean Spitzer said...

Congratulations, Wanda.

I love this building and was very interested to learn its history.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I was close

Petrea Burchard said...

Great photos, Ann. I love the fashion show one.

Mister Earl said...

When I was in law school I clerked at the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Richard Chambers, for whom the Pasadena Courthouse is named, was still there. He loved to rescue buildings and artifacts. He rescued one of the tables from the Scopes trial and put it in the main courtroom in San Francisco. He loved to give tours of the courtroom and explain each item there. They used to say that whenever a federal building closed, Chambers would send a truck to pick up any worthwhile fixtures.

Latino Heritage said...

Great photo, great history. A bit more to add, if I might. This was also where the Dr. Elliott and his family had their home. That home was where Helen Elliott met Arturo Bandini - her future husband.