29 March 2008

a peek into pasadena's glamorous past (happy easter, part 2)

in our last post, maison21 promised he'd tell you why his easter egg hunt & brunch pictures belonged on a design blog. of course, he also promised that he'd tell you "tomorrow", but somehow "tomorrow" turned into "next week" (maison21 blames his delicate constitution- he had his 4,712th bout with the flu this week. he apologizes, and hopes cold and flu season is now officially over- for ALL of us).

anyway, the reason maison21's easter egg hunt and brunch deserved to be publicized (besides an excuse to show pictures of his adorable little friend, lucy), was that the brunch and hunt were held on the grounds of the historic castle green, in pasadena, california (about 15 minutes east of downtown los angeles- if you are lucky and there is no traffic. btw, there is always traffic).
(above photo stolen from, the rest were captured by m21's instamatic)

the castle green building was built in 1898, as an annex to the castle green hotel- a resort that catered to visitors from the east coast escaping their harsh winters, by visiting sunny southern california. though the hotel itself was torn down long ago, the "annex" lives on today as historically landmarked condominiums.

now, maison21 knows that some of his readers live in cities with buildings far older than 110 years, but here in southern california, we don't exactly treasure our history the way normal people do, and the fact that this building survives, and wasn't knocked down for a shopping mall, is quite the achievement- the equivalent of the parthenon in athens or the coliseum in rome. really.
the spanish-moorish-victorian style castle green building is a fabulous document of it's time- the over embellished styles of the victorian era were on the way out, and the more modern style of the arts and crafts movement was on it's way in, and the interiors and furnishings really show the blending of all those styles and more (there's a lot going on...)
all modern conveniences were included in the castle green when it was constructed- things like elevators and electric lights- and they are lovingly preserved to this day. the lobby uses still uses antique-style edison light bulbs, and the iron cage elevator still requires an operator. very cool oldskool.
the entire first floor is devoted to public spaces, like the onyx walled ballroom, and several large sitting rooms as well as a immense front terrace and garden. these spaces can be rented out by the public for weddings and special events, or reserved by the residents, as lucy's granddad was nice enough to do for our brunch on the lovely shady balcony- much needed on a scorching-hot, freaky spring heatwave day, as easter was over 90 degrees! that's hot!
for a peek inside the castle green residences, visit, and take a tour of a studio condo on the market for $495,000 (complete with murphy bed). maison21 thinks $495k seems like kind of a bargain, and he's sure his readers in places like new york or london would agree! with a little maison21 sissy magic™ to update the decor, we think it could be kind of cute. sorry though, the included murphy bed would have to go FIRST THING, as murphy beds rather scare us- maison21 had one in his first apartment, but couldn't bring himself to use it- he had a fear it would fold shut during the night, and he would be trapped inside the walls of his apartment forever.
(above photo stolen from
what do we think of unit 502- a fabulous bargain, and a blast from the past? or too much to pay to live in a studio- no matter how quaintly old school it is?


the House of Beauty and Culture said...

Beautiful! Looks like a one bedroom, rather than a studio. Love old style LA. Great Rosemary's Baby vibe as well.

Pigtown-Design said...

My wee worker's house is 120 years old... the castle where i worked in wales was built in 1200... but green castle is lovely. thanx for sharing!

Be the change..... said...

It seems like a really charming old building! I'm not quite sure of the real estate market out there, but that does seem like a lot really.......I paid less than 1/2 of that for my studio apt. in downtown DC ( which may not be as expensive as NY or LA, but isn't cheap either! ).

All Things Bright and Beautiful... said...

Maison - I love that elevator - how come they don't make elevators like that anymore?

katiedid said...

OMG! I love that you posted about this wonderful building. I grew up in Pasadena all of my first 17 years before heading off to Santa Barbara for college. This was one of my all time favorite buildings in town (along with the Greene and Greene houses.) You are lucky to have spent Easter here! There was a great article showing one of the spaces (it has turned condo hasn't it?) I think in AD (?) a year or so ago. Ah.... memories. Thanks!