Saturday, March 15, 2014

Annual Block Party, Tuesday, August 6, 2013

We had our annual block party on Tuesday evening and Councilman John Kennedy, who lives in our neighborhood at 1404 N. Los Robles, attended with his Field Representative and promised to contribute towards our Landmark District Signs.  Those in attendance discussed the design alternatives for the new signs which should be up by the end of 2014.  Here are some pictures from the block party.  Our next block party is planned to be at John Kennedy's house in August of 2014.....

Friday, August 10, 2012

Normandie Heights Neighborhood Association Block Party, 2012

Last Tuesday evening, August 7th, 2012, was National Night Out and we took that opportunity to have our annual block party that evening on Lisa's front lawn.  Here are the pictures and many thanks to Lisa for letting us use her house and all the neighbors for putting together a great Pot Luck and interesting conversation.  Many thanks also to Pasadena Council Member Chris Holden and the Pasadena Police Department for visiting us during our block party; it was much appreciated.  Also, special thanks to Darren McWhorter, owner of Big Mama's BBQ in Lake Washington Village and a very supportive Normandie Heights neighbor.  The evening was warm and pleasant and the company was also warm and pleasant!

Here are pictures with our celebration of 105 years of Normandie Heights!

Yes, the Pasadena Police Department had a helicopter fly over with siren sound effects!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Normandie Heights in the Los Angeles Times, October 4, 1997

The Stucco Wars: an Easy Fix or Eyesore?

COLUMN ONE Plastering of vintage bungalows sparks clashes between preservationists and struggling home buyers trying to cut maintenance costs.

October 04, 1997

Dale Trader's heart sank when he looked across his shady Pasadena street one day and spotted workers wrapping a classic California bungalow in layers of chicken wire and thick, black tar paper.

Another house was about to be stuccoed.

Trader rushed across the street to dissuade his neighbors from covering their home's wood siding. "It's a shame you are doing that," he told the Vietnamese-born couple, who listened politely before allowing workers to smear a layer of stucco over their 80-year-old cottage.

"We lost another [house]," Trader said later in an interview, "and it's probably not ever going to be brought back."

The exchange between Trader--a film executive as well as a preservation activist--and his neighbors on Rio Grande Avenue is only one minor tiff in a much broader conflict being waged in older neighborhoods across metropolitan Los Angeles.

Here in these mostly working-class enclaves, passionate preservationists are clashing with a rising number of lower-income immigrant home buyers. At issue is the area's dwindling inventory of Craftsman-style bungalows and Victorian cottages--humble abodes that offered an earlier generation a chance to live in single-family homes on a scale never before seen in this country.

Today, sheathed in redwood siding and shingles, these architectural relics stand out in a Southern California landscape awash in stuccoed tract homes and mini-malls. But the upkeep can be so costly that stucco is seen as a good way to cut down on maintenance expenses.

In some ways the struggle against stucco echoes the battles waged decades ago in eastern cities over the installation of aluminum and vinyl siding over old brick houses--a covering widely derided as declasse.

Stuccoing is "a tremendous atrocity," said Rafael Garcia, who has spent nearly 40 years trying to save turn-of-the-century Victorian-style homes near USC. "I hate people who stucco."

Although there is no accurate record of how many bungalows in metropolitan Los Angeles have been stuccoed, preservationists believe that the number runs in the thousands. Local building permits are required to stucco a house, but approvals are granted routinely.

As a result, preservationists and their allies have launched concerted efforts to save neighborhoods from the stucco make-overs.

They have distributed bilingual brochures titled "Deberia Emplastar Mi Casa de Madera?" (Should I Stucco My Wood House?) in the heavily Latino neighborhoods of Highland Park, Pasadena and Long Beach.

Their answer: an emphatic "No" in both languages. Instead, the brochure says that a properly maintained house with wood siding will look better and sell for more money than one that has been stuccoed.

The anti-stucco campaign has also illuminated--and in some cases magnified--the differences in race, culture and class that cut across many Southern California communities. The demands of upper- and middle-class residents to preserve old homes often comes across as condescending and meddlesome to many immigrant homeowners.

"How do you expect them to bring [older homes] back to life when they don't have the cash?" said Robert Silva, office manager for Las Casas Realty, which sells many homes to Latino immigrants in Highland Park and South-Central Los Angeles. "It takes money to restore these homes."

Old homes have been stuccoed for decades by different groups of people, but the issue has come to a head in recent years as one by-product of the influx of Latino and Southeast Asian immigrants into the Southern California housing market. Plunging prices during the recession made homes far more affordable, and immigrants could find old, two-bedroom homes for under $80,000.

Most of these homes, quite modest in size and design, have little chance of ever being designated historic landmarks. However, some architectural historians argue that they create a unique historic environment and ambience worthy of protecting when clustered in communities such as Echo Park, Angelino Heights and South-Central Los Angeles.

Built by the scores of thousands, mostly before the Depression, these bungalows and cottages permitted people of modest means to own a single-family home, according to architectural historians.

Factory workers could afford a tiny version of a Colonial-style house--complete with Roman-style columns on the front porch and arched windows over the front door--in South-Central for as little as $500 down.

"That's what set Los Angeles apart," said Christy McAvoy, managing partner of the Historic Resources Group, an architectural preservation firm. "Working-class people [in other major cities] didn't have the opportunity to have their single-family house" on such a large scale.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Normandie Heights Neighbors in the News - Mrs. Shatford and son Tom on the front page of the Pasadena Star News, 7/24/2008!

I neglected to put this on the Normandie Heights Neighborhood Website back in 2008.  Better late than never, since our next Normandie Heights Block Party is set for Tuesday Evening, August 7, 2012, from 6 to 9 p.m. and Mrs Shatford is sure to attend.  Please be sure to come out and meet your neighbors on the National Night Out......
Friday, July 25, 2008 9:13 AM

Subject: Normandie Heights Neighbors In the News - Mrs. Shatford and son Tom on the front page!

Mrs. Shatford has lived in Normandie Heights longer than any other neighbor and has many stories to tell! The library at PCC is named after her husband, a longtime trustee of PCC and one of Pasadena's greatest public servants. Here is the link

We are very happy to have such distinguished neighbors in our midst. Say hello to Mrs. Shatford and her son at our next block party, as they usually attend.

If you have stories to share about Normandie Heights, please reply to this email.

Trickling down

Gas prices dropping at area stations

By Thomas Himes, Correspondent

Article Launched: 07/24/2008 11:16:44 PM PDT

Tom and Sara Shatford of Pasadena pump gas as fuel as dropped under four dollars a gallon at the Fastop gas station on Washington Blvd on Thursday July 24, 2008, in Pasadena. (Staff Photo by Keith Birmingham)


FOUNDED 1907 & 1994

Block party

Tuesday, 6 to 9 p.m.

August 7th, 2012

In lisa’s yard, 587 rio grande st.

Pot luck – bring a dish or a dessert or just yourself on National night out

All normandie heights residents welcome

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Restoration of the True Estate, 1404 N. Los Robles Avenue

Our neighbor John Grote did a number of wonderful historic restorations in our neighborhood, including the crown jewel of Normandie Heights "The True Estate", located at 1404 North Los Robles Avenue at the west portal of the Landmark District.

John has done things we never believed could happen and we are very appreciative. Thank you John! We keep trying to interest him in other lost cause projects in our neighborhood, like a restoration of a butchered Victorian on Washington Boulevard in Normandie Heights, but he is reluctant to take on more projects, which is understandable.

Let us know what you think needs to be addressed next in our historic neighborhood. Remember, "Make No Little Plans!"

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Home of Clarence W. Bowen on South Orange Grove Blvd. in Pasadena

The aftermath of the 1926 Black Rose Parade

There were two tragedies on the morning of this parade and one of them was connected to the neighborhood Normandie Heights. Clarence Bowen, prominent Pasadena real estate developer and developer of Normandie Heights, did not attend the 1926 parade, but his wife did, standing on a roof of a two story commercial building along the parade route on Colorado Boulevard. For some unexplained reason, Mrs. Bowen fell from the roof, the impact killing her and a parade spectator below. It's possible Mrs. Bowen committed suicide, inadvertently taking another life with her. Mr. Bowen married his second wife a few months later.

For the history of Normandie Heights and Mr. Bowen see the first post on this site.

Here from the Pasadena Star News history feature, published 12/11/2005 11:07 PM,

Tragedy at 1926 parade

Collapse of grandstand resulted in 8 fatalities

Sid Gally Correspondent

Pasadena Star-News PASADENA -

The grandstand at the southeast corner of Colorado and Madison collapsed at 11 a.m. in the morning on Jan. 1, 1926, while the Rose Parade was under way. Eight people were reportedly killed or died later of injuries and scores were injured. A revolution in the way grandstands were designed, built and inspected ensued. Architect Bill Ellinger made available a scrapbook of clippings from the Pasadena Morning Sun that tell the tale of the disaster. Eyewitnesses reported the grandstand dropped slightly and the front end moved rapidly forward several feet. The Sun reported: "This was followed instantly by the total collapse of supporting beams and braces and the stand crashed to the ground, a tangled mass of men, women and children, broken timbers and bright colored decorations. "As the second drop occurred, women screamed, men shouted in alarm and the shrill, terrified cries of children filled the air above the sound of the crash." Investigations started rapidly. Qualified engineers made studies. City officials blamed each other. The Tournament of Roses denied any responsibility. The grandstand was built with used lumber, with as few as one nail at some connections. Nails were not driven in fully so their heads would be exposed for easy removal. Bracing was not adequate. The chief building inspector of the city was a plumbing inspector who admitted that the department was actually managed by a clerk, Miss Doris Strawn.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The Oak Knoll Office and Bank Building as built in 1928 located on the southeast corner of Colorado Boulevard and Lake Avenue in the Oak Knoll Shopping District. Notice only half of the proposed building was built, as shown in the following architectural drawing.

The Oak Knoll Office and Bank Building as proposed in 1927 in the architectural drawing, to be located on the southeast corner of Colorado Boulevard and Lake Avenue in the Oak Knoll Shopping District.

Exterior view of Lake Ave. Methodist Church on the southeast corner of Colorado and Lake Avenue, Pasadena Anno 1907, with the Pacific Electric Oak Knoll Line tracks going north intersecting with the Colorado Boulevard tracks going east and west.

The northernmost end of the Lake Avenue lies at the very foot of the Cobb Estate in Altadena and immediately accesses Las Flores Canyon and the Sierra Madre mountains. The first resident of Las Flores Canyon was the Forsyth Ranch. The ranch was sold in 1919 to Mr. Cobb who had an enormous estate which filled the lower reaches of Los Flores Canyon and the large ornamental entrance gates, driveways, botanical plantings, house foundations and reservoir can still be seeen. Las Flores Canyon was also known for its small and short-lived gold mine and also as a hideout for the notorious Californio bandit of the early American period, Tiburcio Vasquez. The Cobb Estate was deeded to the United States Forest Service as a free growth Arboretum in 1967.

In the days of the Pacific Electric Red Car service in Pasadena and Altadena (1902-1941), Lake Avenue was known as the Oak Knoll Line. Oak Knoll Avenue is the street on the lower end of Lake Avenue which transitions north with a slow curve to the right and then back to the left coming up from San Marino and the former Lake Vineyard Ranch. The Pacific Electric Red Cars came up from a switch on the Huntington Drive line below the famous hotel of the same name. The Oak Knoll Line was a shorter way to get to Lake and Mariposa in Altadena without having to ride the circuitous route up Fair Oaks Avenue. In 1914 a spur on the short line was built across Mendocino Street from Lake Ave. to Allen St. and the development of Country Club Parks. The line was put there to access the new development and the Altadena Country Club and Golf Course.

Pacific Electric car stops for trolleys were located all along Lake Avenue heading to Altadena, Rubio Canyon, the Great Incline and the Mt. Lowe Alpine Tavern Hotel. The Mt. Lowe Alpine Tavern was located on the mountain directly above the terminus of North Lake Avenue and was a popular destination for weekend outings and as a local and national tourist destination. The incredible Mount Lowe mountain railway, which at the height of its popularity was Southern California's outstanding tourist magnet, attracted more visitors at the time then Yosemite or Catalina. It offered one of the world's most spectacular rail trips with disaster seeming ready to strike at every turn of the car wheels, yet so expertly engineered that in all the years it operated not one accident occurred. It was the realized dream of Professor T. S. C. Lowe., the first U.S. Union Army balloon aviator during the Civil War, inventor and one of the most prominent Pasadena residents, investors and boosters.

The Alpine Tavern was also a well visited destination watering hole during Prohibition (1919 to 1933), since the Tavern was cut off from the rest of the city when the last train left in the evening until the trains began running in the morning. This made the Alpine Tavern safe for the imbuing of spirits and other nefarious activities during the nighttime hours. Also, businessmen, attending meetings at the Alpine Tavern Hotel and then being stranded on the mountain after the last train had departed, were known to have telephoned their wives informing them they would have to spend the night at the Tavern, giving them a good excuse for an evening of unbridled and uninterrupted entertainment in this veritable mountain fortress! The businesses near the Pacific Electric stops in Pasadena and Altadena on the way up to the mountain were places to obtain appropriate gifts for a romantic rendezvous.

The interurban railway of the Pacific Electric Company brought the "Big Red Cars'' to North Lake Avenue in 1902, in which crowds of hikers would arrive early on Saturday morning bound for the local canyons to the north. Come Sunday evening the reverse migration would occur. At its peak in the year 1921, when 160,930 passengers were carried, Mt. Lowe cars operated from Pasadena to Altadena via North Fair Oaks, Mariposa, and North Lake including via North Lake from Colorado Boulevard. Another nearby local tourist destination was the home and gardens of noted local botanist and Southern California Missions booster Charles Francis Saunders, located at 580 North Lake Avenue, located just south of Orange Grove Boulevard, which was visited by many traveling on the Pacific Electric cars going up and down to the mountains.

The hiking era came to a close soon after the Angeles Crest Highway was opened in 1936 and the automobile began to dominate people's lives. Roads were driven into the San Gabriel Mountains and few people ventured more than a few hundred yards from their automobiles. The number of visitors today is probably a few percent of the number who came in 1921.

The North Lake Pacific Electric Line was extremely busy until shortly before its abandonment in 1941. The businesses saw their fortunes decline after the closing of the Mount Lowe tourist attraction in 1936, the opening of Angeles Crest Highway into the mountains also in 1936, the ending of trolley traffic in 1941, the onset of World War II and the general availability of automobiles and cheap gasoline for the common man. We hope the trolley on Lake Avenue can be put back in order to bring the tourist trade life blood we have been missing since 1936.