On May 14, guests to Castle Green can tour one of Pasadena’s most iconic locations: the Moorish and Turkish Rooms, as well as the Grand Salon. Perhaps sip a lemonade on the veranda and check out the progress on the bridge formally known as Promenade Hall. Additionally, artist Yoshiko Yamamoto prints her new Castle Green woodblock print.
Of course, Mother’s Day at Castle Green wouldn’t be complete without a high tea in the Grand Ballroom. On the menu: tea sandwiches, salad, scones, pastries, and desserts. Presented by Tea Rose Garden and Perfect Equation Catering.
Mother’s Day at the Castle Green Tour
Sunday, May 14th, 1-5 p.m.
99 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena 91105
Tour only: $30, advance; $35 at the gate
Tour & tea: $85
Purchase tickets at Brown Paper Tickets
Proceeds benefit the restoration projects of Friends of the Castle Green.
Our sincere thanks to former Pasadena Information Officer’s Ann Erdman’s blog and her Mystery History series (below).
In the 1919 photo above, silent screen star Rudolph Valentino kisses the hand of Dorothy Gish at the Hotel Green during a scene from “Nobody Home.” The film, also called “Out of Luck,” is about an extremely superstitious young woman who is wooed by two men: one villainous and one virtuous. Valentino played the shady guy. (The plot thickens!). There’s a nice little story about the filming here.
Now the historic Castle Green, the building was once part of a trio of hotel buildings in the vast Hotel Green complex.
Here’s a circa 1905 photo that shows all three buildings in the complex. If you look very closely, you can see the enclosed bridge that connected the buildings on the west and east side of Raymond (half the bridge, including the little tower, still stands today). The photographer was standing in the new Central Park.
And here’s a page from a historic illustrated souvenir booklet showing the huge complex from a similar angle, with the park a little more mature.
The one-story building at the southeast corner of Raymond Avenue and Green Street — now Stats Floral Supply — is all that’s left of the east building in the complex. Note the curvature of the window on the corner, which is very similar to the two remaining buildings.
Here’s the Castle Green today on the west side of Raymond Avenue between Green and Dayton streets:
The interiors are spectacular and haven’t changed much in all these years:
And here’s the original portion of the complex, which now is the Green Hotel Apartments at the southeast corner of Green Street and Fair Oaks Avenue, along with some first-floor businesses:
I’ve seen and heard the history dozens upon dozens of times. Perhaps the best eye-witness account is in 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:
The Green was an outcome of the frenzied boom and Ed Webster’s altitudinous ambition. Webster was the top-notcher in enterprise about 1886-87, when ranches were being sliced up into town lots. Property owners like Romayne Williams and P.G. Wooster, who fortunately owned “ranches” down along the newly opened Raymond Avenue, were strictly “in it.” Wooster owned the property where now stands the Green Hotel and part of Central Park. Williams’ land lay just south of Wooster’s; therefore, when came the trend of speculation in that direction, Wooster parted with some of his land to Webster and Webster started to build a hotel on it. To help things along, he also built a depot for the Santa Fé on condition that that road would move its office from north of Colorado Street, where it then was, to the new location. Of course, this being handed a fine new brick depot that cost $10,000, situated on a fine lot, all free of charge, the Santa Fé people couldn’t refuse, and with due modesty and kindly feeling moved to the new location. This was in 1887. Thus was begun the original edifice, then called the Webster, later the Green Hotel.
Colonel Green happened into Pasadena one fine day and met Andrew McNally and some other congenial spirits. I believe William Morgan later joined “the crows.” It didn’t take Webster long to get these gentlemen interested in Pasadena, and it was through his efforts that they eventually made large investments and became regular winter residents. Then Webster ran out of money, and what more natural than that he borrow from Green? He did that very thing, and in the distressful end, when Webster got a monkey wrench in his financial machinery, Green had a two-story unfinished hotel on his hands that he did not want. This was in 1891. Morgan fared likewise, but only drew a smaller building on Raymond Avenue which still is part of the Morgan estate.
Green enlarged and improved his purchase and made it a high-class hostelry. He built the west wing in the park that surrounds it; then buying the Wooster Block on Fair Oaks Avenue, and including that in the plant in 1895. J.H. Holmes, a brother-in-law of Colonel Green, was made manager of the business and brought to it much fame as a high-class hotel; for Major Holmes had the “hotel genius,” lacking which it bodes no man to attempt such an undertaking. These two structures, the east and the west wing, are joined, Siamese twin-like, by a bridge which spans the thoroughfare between – an unique link. Not a “bridge of sighs,” indeed, but a causeway to neighborly comity between the dwelling places. The Green was conducted by Major Holmes until he became lessee of the U.S. Grant Hotel at San Diego. In 1916 the Green was leased to D.M. Linnard, who now conducts it as one of his trio, and has recreated its former prestige.
I could go on forever but I won’t. You can find more history on the Castle Green and Pasadena Heritage websites.
The Castle Green is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. A homeowners association takes care of the inside of the building; Pasadena Heritage and Friends of the Castle Green raises funds for exterior restoration. (In the interest of full disclosure, I serve on the Friends board).
Thanks again to Ann Erdman. Check out more of her posts at AnnErdman.blogspot.com.