History Buff


Clara Who? Meet Clara Shortridge Foltz

Clara Who? Meet Clara Shortridge Foltz
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For two weeks my home away from home was the 17-story criminal courts building in downtown Los Angeles. Notable trials here have included the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, the murder trial of Phil Spector and the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray for the death of Michael Jackson, among hundreds and hundreds of others. Technically, […]

Happy 129th, Pasadena!

Happy 129th, Pasadena!

In 1886, Pasadena incorporated “largely as a measure to rid the city of its saloon.”¹ How’s that for a reason? Would Pasadena’s “founding fathers” cringe at the multitude of basic, casual, raucous, and fine drinking venues that currently exist? We hope not. Hopefully, a thimble of 93.7 proof Kentucky Ridgemont Reserve whiskey at the Blind […]

A Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name

A Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name

  “No license must be issued authorizing the marriage of a white person with a negro, mulatto, or Mongolian.” – Civil Code of the State of California: Adopted March 21, 1872, with Amendments Up to and Including Those of the Forty-first Session of Legislature, 1915 “It is my considered opinion that the statutes here involved […]

Thaddeus Lowe: Daredevil Balloonist

Thaddeus Lowe: Daredevil Balloonist

Thaddeus didn’t just do things, he was a “daredevil.” His actions or “derring-do” were called bold and brave “exploits.” These descriptions of Thaddeus Sobieski Constantine Lowe and his actions formed as a result of his role as a civilian aeronaut, a balloonist for the Union Army, engaged in aerial surveillance during the Civil War. Curator […]

Mystery History No. 35

Mystery History No. 35

Where are we? What’s happening? In this Aug. 28, 1966, photo, federal agents from the Internal Revenue Service attach a special lock system to the door of the Pasadena Playhouse office due to nonpayment of $31,000 in taxes. Locks were also placed on the doors of the main theater and all attached structures. The Pasadena […]

The Offices of Adalbert Fenyes, M. D.

The Offices of Adalbert Fenyes, M. D.

Near the turn of the twentieth century, on April 26, 1902, Adalbert Fenyes leased from his wife Eva Scott Fenyes the four rooms on the second floor of the Wetherby & Kayser building in Pasadena, California. He agreed to pay $30 a month for rent beginning October 1st, plus “all water and artificial light used […]

Unexpected Roots

Unexpected Roots

Roberta Martínez shares intimate stories of Pasadena’s earliest days through the romance, marriage, and works of Arturo Bandini and Helen Elliott Bandini; legacies of Old California and women’s identity and roles; and connections with the Valley Hunt Club, Greene and Greene, Charles Lummis, and even the Manhattan Project. Helen Elliott came to California from Indianapolis […]

Civil War Medicine

Civil War Medicine

As a result of massive casualties during the American Civil War, a sea of hospital tents sprung up around Washington D.C. Walt Whitman called them “grim clusters.” Grim might be too tame of a word. At the start of the war in 1861, the “ways” of medicine was just coming out of what’s called the […]

Mystery History No. 34

Mystery History No. 34

Where are we? What’s happening? In this 1886 photo, right, All Saints Church is decorated for Christmas services.     Here’s a more modern look at All Saints at Christmas:     All Saints was founded in 1883, the first Episcopal parish in Pasadena. Members who had begun meeting in a private home three years […]

How a Former Isolation Hospital Became a Public Library

How a Former Isolation Hospital Became a Public Library

You can read about infectious diseases at the Allendale Branch Library, but you won’t contract one – I promise. Still, it’s a little unnerving that Pasadena’s smallest branch library was once used as a contagion ward for deadly illnesses, including smallpox. Built in 1923, the building began life as the Pasadena Isolation Hospital, became a research […]

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