Last Visit – Mother’s Day Tour • May 8, 2016 (the self-guided tour I took is below this original report)
When I have friends visit from out of town, one place always grabs their attention as we drive around town. In the early 20th century, Pasadena was home to one of the most luxurious hotels around. It was called The Hotel Green (now called Castle Green). This excerpt is from Castle Green’s website: “One of Pasadena’s most unique buildings, the Castle Green was built in 1898 as the annex for the famous Hotel Green. The Castle Green is an imposing seven story Moorish Colonial and Spanish style building sitting next to Central Park in Old Pasadena at Raymond and Green Street. The Castle Green was built by Col. George G. Green of the Patent Medicine Business.”
Going back a few years, a businessman by the name of Edward Webster had built a hotel here near the Intercontinental Santa Fe railroad line, ostensibly to have folks from the east coast and Midwest come to Pasadena to escape those brutal winters. Colonel Green helped finance that hotel. Webster went belly-up, so Green became the owner of the hotel (Hotel Green photo below from Pasadena Library circa 1896).
More from the Castle Green website: “The Castle Green, opened in 1899 as the second of three buildings in the Hotel Green complex, was a lavish resort for easterners and others escaping winter rigors. Architect Frederick I. Roehrig, for what was later to be called the Central Annex, drew on Moorish, Spanish, Victorian, and other stylistic elements to produce Pasadena’s most stunningly original building. He blended domes, arches, pillars, balconies, and verandahs in a building of structural steel with brick walls and concrete floors, making it Pasadena’s first fireproof building.”
“He tied it to the first part of the hotel complex, built on the east side of the street, by an ornate enclosed bridge crossing Raymond Avenue (see above). When the Annex opened for business, its two cylindrical towers on the south and much of the roof line were illuminated with exterior lights. There was even a penthouse garden with a glass roof.”
“The Hotel Green was home to the Tournament Of Roses and The Valley Hunt Club. At the end of the resort era, the west annex was purchased by a group of regular hotel guests who wished to continue to come to the Hotel Green. In 1924 the group of investors divided the hotel complex into three parts. The Central Annex was divided into fifty individually owned units, and so it remains today, renamed the Castle Green.”
The Castle Green has been turned into condos, but it is one of the oldest standing historic landmarks in Los Angeles County. It still retains many of its original features from its construction including the oldest wrought iron elevator on the west coast.
Castle Green also features beautiful moldings, hand carved fireplace mantles, and original lighting. The east side of the building and the bridge are sadly long gone (there was a Stats holiday store there for many years, but it recently went out of business).
Still a lovely oasis in Pasadena, the Castle Green does have a couple of open houses during the year (Spring, Mother’s Day and Christmas time) when regular folks like us can catch a glimpse of old Pasadena history. As you can see, the property is very photogenic, especially on a beautiful, sunny morning (well aren’t they all beautiful in Pasadena) when I took all these photos.
OK, I lied above…not all days in Pasadena are sunny.
After checking in, I checked out the front patio,
before entering the Main Entry (aka Lobby).
There is a portrait of Colonel Green in the room.
The highlight of this room was the baronial fireplace, which was “surrounded by green-glazed tiles surmounted with a mantle shelf placed at an exaggerated height. The mirror above was set within a paneled over-mantle of Port Orford cedar.” It was my favorite mantle I had seen since Mickey. The fire added a nice touch on this overcast day.
From the Grand Salon, I made my way to the Moorish Room, which at one time was one of only two “Ladies’ Rooms.”
…not including a hand-decorated, silk Fortuny lampshade at the ceiling, which was donated by one one of the Castle Green’s residents.
The Turkish Room contains another cool fireplace (oxymoron alert). The faux painting imitates Rosa Verona marble, which was a popular type back in the Victorian era. On top of the chimney was a piece that looked like “the most interesting man in the world.”
The Turkish Room also contains mostly original furniture pieces, like this colorful chair.
I walked back through the lobby to the Palm Room, which was not part of the original construction of the hotel. It was created in the early 1900s and is utilized now for dances, weddings, dinners, and other events…like the Mother’s Day Tea that was held earlier in the day. By the time I got there, not even a leftover croissant could be found.
Back in the lobby, I ascended the ornate, wrought iron staircase of Carrera marble.
Upstairs, I took a quick photo of the open-cage elevator, one of the few that still survive in Southern California. Obviously, the elevator market has had its ups and downs. The elevator was not in working order, which helped me since I had just started my seventh diet of the new year.
I entered the old pedestrian bridge that used to span Raymond Avenue (200 feet in length at the time) connecting the two wings of the hotel. Inside the “bridge area” now was a place where you could buy souvenirs.
I spied an old phone. I wondered how they charged it.
I meandered down a few more hallways with some interesting artifacts and door knockers…
…before taking a walk around the interior garden one last time.
The next tour of the Castle Green takes place in December for the Holiday Tour.
The Castle Green is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the State Historic Register and the City of Pasadena’s list of Historic Places. The gardens and portions of its interior can even be rented out for weddings and parties.
99 South Raymond Avenue • Pasadena 91105
Castle Green Mother’s Day Tour
(This tour will be a self-guided one. It will include the ground floor, parts of the basement, the stunning rooftop view, the penthouse and some very well appointed private apartments, allowed at their owner’s discretion)
Tour & Tea Combination: $85.00 ($88.97 w/service fee)
Tour Only: $30.00 ($32.04 w/service fee)
Tour (day of the event): $35