Mystery History No. 24

Jan 5, 2014

Mystery HistoryWhere are we? What’s happening?

In this 1883 photo, four women wait their turn in front of the Ferndale Gallery, Pasadena’s first photo studio (note the photographs on display).

The business had been established the year before by George Weingarth, Pasadena’s first professional photographer. He was among the settlers who founded the Indiana Colony.

In addition to portraits, Pasadena landscapes and buildings were photographed by Weingarth and they have become iconic, including these*:


Arroyo Vista


While I was doing my research for this post, I learned there are no documented photographs of Weingarth. He preferred to stay behind the camera.

According to my favorite reference book about local history, Pasadena:  Historical and Personal by John Windell Wood, Weingarth was among an impressive list of firsts:

  • The first drug store was the Pasadena Pharmacy, conducted by this writer.
  • The first postmaster was Henry T. Hollingsworth, appointed September 21st, 1876.
  • The first bank was the Pasadena Bank, organized November 21st, 1884. It began business January 12th, 1885. P.M. Green, president.
  • The first “practicing” barber was A.S. Hollingsworth, who had a chair in the corner of his father’s store. The first shop was opened on Fair Oaks Avenue in 1883 by a man named Rossi, and afterwards moved to West Colorado Street; later purchased by Joe Laspada, who still owns it.
  • The first harness shop was owned by Harry C. Price, who opened in 1883.
  • The first photographer was George Weingarth, who opened the “Ferndale Gallery” in 1882. Some of the old pictures in this book are from his photographs.
  • The first real estate dealer was T.P. Lukens.
  • The first bicycle shop was owned by Ed Braley just where his fine four-story building now stands.
  • The first lumber yard was started by J. Banbury. The office stood where the Metcalf Building now is—on Colorado Street, by the Santa Fe tracks—1883.

*Fair Oaks looking north from Colorado, 1884; Arroyo Vista Guest House (circa 1883); Orange Grove at California looking south (1883)

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library and Pasadena Museum of History.

Copyright © 2013 Ann Erdman

Ann-Erdman-Hat-City-HallAnn Erdman is happily retired after decades of loyal service to the City of Pasadena as Public Information Officer. Her blog can be found at




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