Did you miss the 2007 Historic Highlands Home Tour? If so, we have a summary
for you below. Also, please remember to join us for our 14th Annual Home Tour on
Sunday, May 25th, 2008.
Welcome to Pasadena’s Historic Highlands. On behalf of the members of the Home Tour Committee, we thank you
for joining us on our Thirteenth Annual Home Tour. That’s right, thirteen wonderful years of sharing 72 homes with
you, and adding six more this year. This year’s homes are typical of the love and care of the people in our
neighborhood who make this such a special place to live.
This tour would not be possible without the hard work and generosity of many people; first and foremost, the
homeowners who graciously opened their beautiful homes and gardens for the day. We thank the volunteers, who
have devoted countless hours to make this year’s tour a reality, and finally the local businesses who support this
tour and the community, year after year. We especially thank you, our guests.
The proceeds from this year’s tour will be used for neighborhood functions, on-going beautification projects and
neighborhood school support. We are continuing a program to provide “Mini-grants” to teachers at our
neighborhood schools; Longfellow Elementary, Pasadena Community Day School and St. Elizabeth Parish School.
As you walk along the tree-lined streets, take time to enjoy the arts and crafts vendors and complimentary
refreshments. We hope you enjoy the beauty and splendor of the Pasadena Historic Highlands as much as we
enjoy sharing it with you.
Home Tour Committee Co-Chairpersons
Ginger Loesch and Elizabeth Berner
Thirteenth Historic Highlands Home Tour 2007
The Historic Highlands Neighborhood straddles the borders of Pasadena and Altadena, situated between New York Blvd. on the north, Washington Blvd. on the south, Lake
Ave. on the west, and Hill Ave. on the east. To truly appreciate the history of the neighborhood we have to go back 100 years to when the oldest house on the tour was built
and the neighborhood was all farmland. The Livingston family’s home located at 1176 New York Blvd. (Home #1on the tour) sold fruit grown on their land to the Earl Fruit
Company which at that time was the dominant fruit packing and shipping company in California. The fruit grown in the area was taken to a packing house, where it was shipped
out to the rest of the country by train. The neighborhood, plentiful with orange and walnut groves, vineyards of sun-ripened grapes and acres of barley fields all helped fuel the
economy and the desire for more fertile land. Advertisements for land, featuring the home at 1204 New York Blvd. (Home #2 on the tour), discuss the temperature and rainfall
for Altadena. While touting the growing conditions, it lets buyers know that gracious living was still possible in this sparsely populated area. An early account of the settlers of
Altadena, remarked that there wasn’t another dwelling between the Livingston’s home and the foothills. They counted their neighbors on one hand.
Eventually, farming gave way to residential development in the early part of the century as was documented in articles in the Pasadena Daily News of January 12 of 1907. The
property was described as, “the choicest residential section of Pasadena…the view is a grand panorama of mountain and valley, our elevation is above the damp, chilly haze
that settles over the valley at night, giving us most delightful mornings and evenings.” The lots were selling for $1000 to $1200.
These neighborhood attributes were again expounded in the Lexington Heights brochure circa 1913 which boasts, “It is located on high ground commanding an uninterrupted
view of mountains also looking down over the rest of the city…Free from dampness and fogs, with refreshing mountain air, and it will always be a chosen spot for ideal hygienic
conditions.” The Lexington Heights development, on tour today, was developed in two phases. The first phase began in 1913, with the construction of eleven homes, seven of
them on Lexington. The second phase began in the 1920’s. Associated Home Builders began erecting homes on the block between Erie (Woodbury) on the north, Topeka on
the south, Holliston on the east and Highland (Michigan) on the west. The subdivision included many improvements such as graded roads, sidewalks, gutters, and street lights!
The brochure from 1913 shows pictures of the first homes built in the Lexington development. The homes had a clear view of the mountains and valley, unimpeded by
vegetation. However, the brochure promises that they are planting ornamental shade trees. Would they recognize the canopy of camphor trees that shade the streets now?
They advertised that the development would allow modern conveniences, with no pioneering! They were correct in predicting that “Buy where you have conditions like these
and your property will increase in value and always be saleable.”
1176 New York
Welcome to the oldest house on the tour, built for Thomas and Susie Livingston on the property he was farming since 1893. What happened to the original
house they were living in is unclear, but the “permanent house” as it is referred to in an article from that time, was built in 1908. The Livingston’s were very proud
of their involvement in the development of the new community of Altadena. Susie Livingston was one of the founding members of the Woman’s Circle of Altadena
established in 1907 with the purpose to “promote a spirit of friendliness and harmony among Altadena’s women”. Stop for a moment and notice the features that
make this a prime example of the California Bungalow. Most books on the Arts and Crafts movement define the bungalow as a one or one-and-a-half-story
dwelling that combines elements found in Japanese buildings and Swiss chalets. The house is painted green in one of the popular craftsman palettes that
exemplified the idea of harmonizing the structure with its environment.
The Arts and Crafts ideal was to blend the outdoors with the indoors. They did this with the use of natural materials such as brick around the posts of the house
and up the chimney on the outside and extensive use of wood inside. The bungalow invariably had a front porch under the gabled roof, intended for “front
porch sitting” to greet your neighbors as they went by. In keeping with tradition, the homeowners have furnished the porch for just this purpose. On entering the
living room, your eye is immediately drawn to the box beam ceiling of Douglas Fir. The interesting moldings in the house have been painted during the last 100
years, but still show the outstanding craftsmanship. They are unusual because unlike the common bungalow moldings that emphasize the horizontal structure,
these are vertical, topped with a finial. The fireplace tiles are not original, but the large mantel above it is and was built to provide a showplace for treasured
items. The built-in bookcase and seat were considered necessities for bungalow living. The master bedroom may have been a parlor or den, as was often the
case in homes of this era. One of the previous owners was an artist and stenciled the Arts and Crafts border in the room. The bed is handmade and the
nightstands are made by Thomas Moser who is known for his handcrafted furniture. The bathroom has been remodeled and originally had a second door on
the south wall that connected into the kitchen. This was closed during the kitchen remodeling several years ago. The dining room walls have paneling topped
with a plate rail. The space between the paneling and ceiling was originally left open to allow it to be filled with grass cloth, wallpaper, stenciling or pictures. At
the far end of the room is the quintessential sideboard with dish cupboards covered by leaded glass doors. Most unusual in this room is the second fireplace.
Notice the “speckled” bricks that are the same as in the Gamble House. Off to the side is the landing for the staircase to the upper floor. There are two
bedrooms and one bathroom upstairs, but due to the narrow and steep stairs, they are not on tour today.
Exit the house through the kitchen that has been remodeled with a nod to the Arts and Crafts influence. The breakfast room is the original service porch that has
been enclosed and the space re-proportioned to allow for eating and laundry facilities behind the louvered doors. From the back porch walk down the stairs into
the most delightful walled garden. Don’t miss the His-and-Hers offices in the back. His is a guest house that was built in 1946. Hers is a recent conversion of
the garage. As you leave the beautiful yard that was carved out of the original ranch, notice the large orange tree in the front that still stands to remind us of the
house’s history. Gathering Oranges in Altadena, early 1900’s Advertisement from 1925
1204 New York
Beautifully situated on its spacious lot, this charming English revival home exudes character of a bygone era. Upon approaching the home, one immediately sees the high
pitched roof and sweeping gables which gently curve over the front door, as well as the conical shaped cupola in front of the attic vent. The home retains the same
appearance it had as seen in the early photos of the property. The picture windows flanked by casement windows are original, as is the stucco siding. The distinctive front
door of rough hewn wood with a small leaded glass window gives character to this charming home. The house was built in 1924 by Robert Neeley, who resided there with
his wife Lena Mae Neeley. Mr. Neeley is said to have also built the home two doors to the west. The McLean family owned the home through the late 1920’s, and Elizabeth
and Albert Rudge owned the home from 1930 through 1950. In 1933 the house was updated and enlarged from three bedrooms and one bath to four bedrooms and two
baths. In the 1950’s the house was owned by Franklin and Dorothy Stewart. The current owners purchased the home from Malcolm and Ildiko McNabb in 1986, and have
lovingly restored it over the last twenty years.
Entering the living room, you will notice the high coved ceilings and polished hardwood floors. The Batchelder fireplace is the focal point of the room, with its grape vine
pattern and rich colors. The current owners went to great lengths to restore and replace the missing fireplace tiles. A local artist was hired to make a cast and reproduce
the missing tiles, a sample of which is framed and hanging on the east wall of the living room. The sconce lights above the fireplace are hand blown glass reproductions
and are in keeping with the era of the house. Through the arched doorway you will see the dining room, which also has high coved ceilings and has an open spacious feel.
The china cabinet from Denmark reflects the arch in the doorway.
The hall to the living area has several original features from the home, including the mother of pearl gravity heating buttons and the heating vents. There is an arched
alcove in the hallway thought to be originally used for the telephone. The west bedroom was expanded in the last few years to create a library for the family. What had
originally been an outdoor patio was enclosed to make the library. Skylights were added and the window and door were retained and used. The adjoining Jack and Jill
bathroom has the original subway tile, hex tile flooring and fixtures. The south bedroom is bright with lots of windows looking out on the lovely garden. The main bathroom
has been updated and restored. It has hex tile flooring and newer subway tile, and retains many of the original fixtures. The back bedroom was refurbished by the current
owners from a 1950’s look to its present condition.
The kitchen, with its charming vintage stove, was remodeled by the current owners. The kitchen cabinets were built by a furniture maker out of Honduras Mahogany with
Rosewood accents. They were designed to mirror the pattern of the windows in the adjoining light filled breakfast room. One of the most charming features of this home is
the butler’s pantry. With its original wood cabinets and nickel sink, this gracious space is both charming and practical for any residents of any era.
Off the kitchen is the service porch which has served as a mud room for the current owners. While updating it to be useful for today’s lifestyle, the owners added a sink and
cabinets and kept the original ironing board. From the service porch, you will exit down the back stairs to the driveway. Please take a minute and look at the beautiful back
garden before walking up the driveway to the front of the house. The front garden has been recently updated with plants appropriate for an English garden. This is truly a
home where simplicity and elegance abound!