Things are happening fast on the historic preservation front here in Alhambra! Let’s get everyone up to date!

As you know, Alhambra Preservation Group has been advocating for more than 18 years for the creation of a comprehensive historic preservation program. We’ve advocated for three key elements to be included: (1) establish an historic preservation commission, (2) adopt a historic preservation ordinance, and (3) conduct a citywide inventory of historically, architecturally and culturally significant homes, businesses, churches and schools. 

On Monday, September 27, 2021, Alhambra’s City Council voted to create an Historic Preservation Commission – one of three new commissions established by City Council. Then, in their October e-newsletter, the City of Alhambra announced, “City of Alhambra to Establish Historic Preservation Program” stating that, “plans are well underway for the establishment of a Historic Preservation Program in Alhambra to recognize and protect important properties in the city’s history.” The City goes on to describe that Alhambra’s Historic Preservation Program will be developed in three phases: 

Phase 1: Develop a Historic Context Statement

Phase 2: Conduct a Historic Resources Survey and Seat a Historic Preservation Commission

Phase 3: Adopt a Historic Preservation Ordinance 

The City is currently in Phase 1 – the development of Alhambra’s first comprehensive, citywide historic context statement. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a historic context statement is a written document that provides the framework for evaluating properties for their historic significance. In other words, this document will help residents understand what makes Alhambra homes, businesses, schools and churches historic, or not. 

In order to write Alhambra’s historic context statement, the City is asking for EVERYONE’S help to tell Alhambra’s story. They want to hear about the people, places and stories in Alhambra’s history that matter the most to us. 

To begin the process of gathering stories and information to write Alhambra’s first comprehensive historic context statement, the City of Alhambra is having a virtual community outreach meeting on October 13. Please plan on attending. Here’s the information:

Historic PreservationCommunity Outreach Virtual Meeting

Date: Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Via Zoom link to be shared on www.historicalhambra.com 

We also encourage you to visit the City of Alhambra’s new historic preservation website to learn more, share your stories for Alhambra’s historic context statement, get involved in building Alhambra’s historic preservation program and join the program’s mailing list. 

“APG is very pleased to share these announcements outlining the next steps in the creation of Alhambra’s historic preservation program,” stated Oscar Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group’s founder and president. “We urge everyone to get involved and help tell Alhambra’s story. APG has already contacted the project team to share the myriad stories we’ve discovered over the years, and we strongly urge you to do the same,” continued Amaro.

If you should have any questions, feel free to contact us at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost half way through 2021. Like all of you, here at Alhambra Preservation Group, we’ve been trying to adapt to life post-COVID and figure out what the “next normal” will look like for our organization. We hope to have more information to share later this year.

For now, we’re writing because there are two items of interest on Alhambra City Council’s online meeting this coming Monday, June 14 at 6 p.m. We encourage you to review the agenda and provide comments.

The first item of interest is Item #8: Discussion Regarding the Establishment of New Boards and Commissions

City Council will be discussing the establishment of new boards, committee and commissions and included in this, the establishment of a Historic Preservation Committee.

“Alhambra Preservation Group (APG) strongly supports and encourages the City to establish a historic preservation commission/committee,” stated Alhambra Preservation Group President, Oscar Amaro. “This proposed historic preservation commission/committee’s responsibilities could include the identification of Alhambra’s historic resources as well as assessing properties for any potential historic significance and providing desperately needed oversight,” continued Amaro.

APG recommends that the City establish a five-member Historic Preservation Commission with each City Council member appointing one resident member. Each member’s qualifications should be based on interest or experience in Alhambra’s history, architecture, archeology or related fields. The creation of a historic preservation commission could also assist the City of Alhambra in qualifying for future state preservation-related grant funds and incentives.

How You Can Help: Send an e-mail to Alhambra City Clerk Lauren Myles at lmyles@cityofalhambra.org by 5 p.m. on Monday, June 14, identifying your comments for Item 8. Please voice your support for and urge the City Council to establish a Historic Preservation Commission/Committee.

The second item of interest is Item #23: Council Action to Accept Properties and Assets From The Alhambra Historical Society, Inc.

Unfortunately, the Alhambra Historical Society has decided to dissolve. They will be returning the Alhambra Historical Society building and associated funds to the City of Alhambra on June 30, 2021. While we are saddened to learn of the dissolution of the Alhambra Historical Society, we understand the necessity to return the building and assets to the City of Alhambra. We thank the Alhambra Historical Society board members for their decades of dedication and service.

APG supports the City of Alhambra’s creation of an account to receive any remaining funds and property as a result of the Alhambra Historical Society’s dissolution. We look forward to hearing recommendations on the future use of the building as well as remaining funds.

APG encourages the Alhambra City Council to earmark funds from the Alhambra Historical Society for historic-preservation related needs as was intended when the historical society was formed in 1966 and to consider utilizing these funds for a long overdue citywide inventory of historic resources. 

How You Can Help: Send an e-mail to Alhambra City Clerk Lauren Myles at lmyles@cityofalhambra.org by 5 p.m. on Monday, June 14, identifying your comments for Item 23. Urge our City Council to earmark funds from the Alhambra Historical Society for historic preservation-related needs and request that they consider utilizing these funds for a citywide inventory of historic resources.

We recommend that you e-mail your comments; however, if you should choose to speak on any of the items, the June 14 City Council agenda provides instructions on how to do that.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support of historic preservation in Alhambra. If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact us at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

Photo of Alhambra City Hall circa 1960s courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

We need your help to protect and preserve Alhambra’s historic Shorb Clinic and save it from demolition.

This Monday, March 8, Alhambra City Council will hear a presentation that will include three options for a future community center to be located at the current site of the former Shorb Clinic, located just south of Moor Field between South Sixth and Seventh Streets. The recommended scheme proposes demolishing the Shorb Clinic and constructing a new one. The Alhambra City Council’s March 8 agenda and related documents can be viewed here. The report and feasibility study begins on page 67 of the agenda packet.

While Alhambra Preservation Group enthusiastically supports the creation of a community center at this location, we ardently reject any scheme that proposes the razing of this historic building. We believe that this building can be rehabilitated through the historic preservation goal of adaptive reuse. APG has written a letter to City Council urging them to save the Shorb Clinic and explore its sensitive and creative rehabilitation. We encourage you to do the same – voice your support for the preservation and rehabilitation of the Shorb Clinic. You can show your support for the Shorb Clinic by following these steps:

  1. Write a letter addressed to Alhambra City Council, demonstrating your support of finding a solution for this site that creatively and sensitively reuses the current structure. You will find a sample letter below for your consideration and use.
  2. Email your letter to City Clerk, Lauren Myles at lmyles@cityofalhambra.org by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 8, 2021. In your e-mail subject line please indicate that your comments are for Item 4: Rehabilitation of the Shorb Clinic Property Into A Community Center. Your letter will then be read into the record during the City Council’s public comment period.
  3. Alternatively, if you wish to speak on this item at the meeting, please e-mail Deputy City Manager David Tran at dtran@cityofalhambra.org by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 8, 2021 indicating the item you wish to speak on (Item 4: Rehabilitation of the Shorb Clinic Property Into A Community Center) and the phone number you will use when calling or the name you will use when logging into the meeting.
  4. Plan to attend the March 8, 2021 virtual meeting. Information on how to listen in or log into the meeting can be found on the City of Alhambra’s March 8, 2021 City Council agenda.

The 1984 Alhambra Historic Resources Survey identified the Shorb Clinic as a building that should be surveyed in the future because of its potential to receive National Register of Historic Places designation – the highest honor a historically significant structure can receive in the United States. Built in 1930, the Shorb Clinic is an example of Monterey Colonial Revival architecture. This sub-genre of Spanish architecture was popular during the early 20th century. Many examples of Spanish architecture can be found throughout Alhambra, including the Sixth Street Fire Station, which is located next door to the Shorb Clinic.

It is time for the City of Alhambra to reverse its shortsighted and imprudent practice of destroying its historic resources and start preserving the homes, businesses, churches and schools that make Alhambra unique.  Please lend your voice to the preservation and rehabilitation of the Shorb Clinic and speak out against the demolition of this historic property.

If you should have any questions, please contact APG at info@alhambrapreservation.org and thank you for helping us preserve and protect Alhambra.

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.


Subject: March 8, 2021 City Council Meeting, Item #4 – Rehabilitation of the Shorb Clinic Property Into A Community Center

Dear Mayor Perez and City Council Members,

I support the plan to have a community center at this location and encourage the Alhambra City Council to adopt a policy of adaptive reuse in transforming the Shorb Clinic into a community center. I do not support the razing of the historic Shorb Clinic and encourage you to reject any scheme that proposes the destruction of this building.

The Shorb Clinic has been a part of Alhambra since 1930 and while it has fallen into disrepair, this building has the potential to be rehabilitated into a vibrant community center. The 1984 Historic Resources Survey identified this structure as needing future evaluation and as possibly eligible for National Register of Historic Places designation.

I respectfully request that Alhambra City Council explore the adaptive reuse of the current Shorb Clinic and reject any proposal that would demolish this historic building.

Thank you for your consideration,

(Insert Your Name Here)

In anticipation of the November 3 general election, two virtual Alhambra Candidates’ Forums will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 and Thursday, October 8, 2020.

The Community and Candidates Forum on October 6 will feature Alhambra City Council candidates and will include questions from the community. All City Council candidates were invited to participate in the forum.

In City Council District 3, incumbent Council Member Jeff Maloney and challenger Chris Olson will participate. In City Council District 4, incumbent Mayor David Mejia and challenger Sasha Renée Pérez will participate. Mr. Karsen Luthi, a candidate in the City Council District 4 race, declined the invitation to attend.

California Senator Susan Rubio representing the 22nd senate district will provide the keynote welcome with the Pasadena area chapter of the League of Women Voters moderating the forum. To register to attend this free event on October 6, please visit the Community and Candidates Forum Eventbrite page.

Two nights later, on Thursday, October 8, the Kids and Candidates Forum will focus on candidates running for Alhambra Unified School District’s (AUSD) School Board and will also include questions from community members. There are races in three of AUSD’s five school board seats. All Alhambra School Board candidates were invited to participate in the forum.

The school board candidates who will be attending include challengers Dr. Marcia Wilson (District 1), Ken Tang (District 2) and Kaysa Moreno (District 3). As of the posting of this article on September 29, Alhambra Unified School District Board incumbents Wing Ho (District 1), Jane Anderson (District 2) and Patricia Rodriguez-Macintosh (District 3) had declined the invitation to participate.

AUSD Superintendent Denise Jaramillo will provide the keynote welcome and student leaders from our AUSD high schools will moderate the forum. To register to attend this free event on October 8, please visit the Kids and Candidates Forum Eventbrite page.

Alhambrans are invited and encouraged to participate in these two free virtual town hall-style meetings to meet the candidates and learn where they stand on key issues facing Alhambra.

Both forums will include live Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese translations.

If you would like to submit potential questions for either the City Council Candidates Forum or the AUSD School Board Candidates Forum, please send your questions via e-mail to education@alhambrasource.org. You may register for the events by visiting the Alhambra Source.

A coalition of Alhambra community based organizations comprised of the Alhambra Source, Alhambra Latino Association, Alhambra Preservation Group and Alhambra Visa Boosters, is partnering with the League of Women Voters, Pasadena Area and local high school students to produce these two virtual candidates forums.

The goal of both candidates forums is to give Alhambra City Council and AUSD School Board candidates the opportunity to discuss the various issues affecting Alhambra and provide residents with an opportunity to hear their positions on issues.  Given the many issues facing our city, the coalition invites all Alhambrans to attend this event and receive the information they need to cast an informed vote.

The general election will be on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Due to COVID-19, California will send mail-in ballots to all registered voters. For information on how to register to vote or to check your current voter registration information, please visit Vote.org.

Graphic courtesy of the Alhambra Source.

This year we are focusing on 1920s Alhambra. In this issue, we shine the spotlight on three of Alhambra’s neighborhoods that were developed and “grew up” in the 1920s – Emery Park, Mayfair and the Orange Blossom Manor Tracts.

All three of these 1920s neighborhoods include homes that feature the architectural styles that were prevalent in the 1920s – Spanish Colonial Revival, Storybook, American Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, the English Cottage, among others. Architecturally, the 1920s was a time when there was a style for every taste, and all those “styles” can be still be found in present-day Alhambra neighborhoods – nearly a century after they were built.

Emery Park

The official opening day celebration for Emery Park was held on Sunday, February 26, 1922. Emery Park was a brand new subdivision, created from an area west of Fremont Avenue and south of Main Street, that had been annexed to the City of Alhambra in 1908. It had once been known as Dolgeville – Alfred Dolge’s model manufacturing suburb. 

An Emery Park advertisement.

More than 1,000 people attended Emery Park’s opening day event, which was sponsored by the real estate development firm of Meyering & Lawrence.  Many of them traveled from downtown Los Angeles on buses hired by the company.  A free lunch was served as an enticement, and prizes were given away to buyers – handy domestic items that homeowners might need – like sewing machines, rocking chairs, table lamps and coffee percolators. 

It must have been quite an impressive sight on that beautiful, late winter day, to see the more than 500 acres of Emery Park from a viewpoint near the top of the hill!  One writer described his own experience of seeing the new subdivision for the first time: 

 “The view was so beautiful it shocked me – shocked me and thrilled me.  Below was unfolded a panorama of unforgettable loveliness.  It seemed such a different world I had to consult my watch to realize that twenty minutes before we had been held up by a traffic jam at Sixth and Olive.  Peaceful Alhambra lay to the right, and far over on the left her autocratic sister, Pasadena, flaunted her charms.  A green carpet rolled out from our feet, straight away to the backdrop – the mountain range, over which hung a purple haze.  And rising out of this purple was Mt. Baldy, like a white-haired old vet, snowcapped, magnificent.”

Writer Unknown

Twenty-two lots were sold that first afternoon alone.  A grading camp was established on site, and work began on the construction of streets and roadways within Emery Park.   Poplar Blvd was already paved, but it was widened so that the new tract could be connected to the main business district in Alhambra. 

Fast forward nearly a century and many of the homes that were built in Emery Park remain there today. Driving up and down Emery Parks’ streets, one will still find Spanish Revival, Pueblo Revival, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival and Storybook homes.


Named after one of the most elegant and expensive sections of the city of London, Alhambra’s Mayfair Tract is 63 acres in size, bounded by San Marino Avenue on the north, Valley Boulevard on the south, Garfield Avenue on the east, and 6th Street on the west.

By the 1920s, Mayfair remained one of Alhambra’s last major undeveloped land tracts. The only other large areas of land that still remained were the Graves and Bean orchards in the northeastern portion of the city. With the newly built Garfield Theater just down the street and new businesses popping up all along Valley Boulevard, which had recently changed names from Ocean to Ocean Boulevard, one can understand the appeal of Alhambra’s Mayfair Tract.

A 1946 photo of the home on S. 4th Street.

One of Mayfair’s most beautiful homes is a Tudor Revival on South 4th Street. Built in 1929, this home, constructed for $5,900, was the first residence built on this block. It most likely served as the tract’s model home.

Today, the Mayfair tract remains one of Alhambra’s most intact historic neighborhoods. Driving through Mayfair, one will see many Spanish Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, and Storybook-styled homes. And, like Emery Park, in Mayfair one will find an attractive mixture of the many architectural styles that were prevalent in the 1920s.

Orange Blossom Manor Tract

The last neighborhood we’re showcasing is the Orange Blossom Manor Tract in northeastern Alhambra and which boasts some of Alhambra’ most beautiful homes. The boundaries of the Orange Blossom Manor Tract are Alhambra Road on the north, Grand Avenue on the south, Almansor Street on the west, and Hidalgo Avenue on the east. Almansor Street between Grand Avenue and Alhambra Road is unofficially known as Alhambra’s Millionaire’s Row with several stunning 1920’s revival-styled homes.

Before it was known as the Orange Blossom Manor Tract this area of land was owned in the late 1800’s by Francis Q. Story, one of Alhambra’ Founding Fathers. Story was a highly successful entrepreneur, who was known as “the Father of the Sunkist Orange” having developed the iconic campaign just after the turn of the 20th century. His citrus orchards stretched from the Alhambra Arroyo eastward toward San Gabriel.

Victor “Clyde” Forsythe
painted by Norman Rockwell

During the 1920’s, Mr. Story began to sell off his many acres of orchard land, and local real estate developers snapped them up to create housing tracts. One of these was the Orange Blossom Manor Tract – so named after the home of famed artist Victor “Clyde” Forsythe and still located at the corner of Alhambra Road and Almansor Street.  Some of the most prominent Alhambrans of the 1920’s and 1930’s lived in this exclusive neighborhood.

The varied architectural styles of the homes in this area are reflective of the post World War I period of their construction. The Orange Blossom Manor Tract features a diverse collection of architectural styles, including stately Mid-Atlantic Colonials, sturdy Dutch Colonial Revivals, stunning Spanish Colonial and Mission Revivals, and quaint English Cottages.

In a city that has experienced the destruction of many historic homes, it is important to note that these three Alhambra neighborhoods remain almost completely intact. When you visit Emery Park, Mayfair or the Orange Blossom Manor tracts, you’ll see these neighborhoods almost exactly as they appeared in the late 1920s – a testament both to the excellent quality of the homes and to the commitment of their residents in retaining the original charm and character of these three historic neighborhoods.

Thank you to Chris Olson, past president of Alhambra Preservation Group, for her contribution to this article.

Editor’s Note: This concludes Alhambra Preservation Group’s series on the 1920s. We hope you have enjoyed reading about 1920s Alhambra as much as we’ve enjoyed focusing the spotlight on the beautiful 1920s architecture that can still be found in Alhambra.

Photos courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

Measure V will promote integrity, honesty, fairness and transparency in Alhambra elections

By Oscar Amaro, President, Alhambra Preservation Group

On your mail-in ballot, you’ll see Measure V – Alhambrans for Election and Campaign Finance Reform. Alhambra Preservation Group endorses Measure V, and I strongly encourage you to vote Yes on Measure V. Here’s what Measure V will do for Alhambra:

  • Measure V will improve representation
  • Measure V will increase government accountability and transparency
  • Measure V will get Big Money out of Alhambra politics

When I formed the Alhambra Preservation Group (APG) in 2003, I never thought it would take 17 years (and counting) for city leaders to support what a clear and very vocal majority of Alhambrans had been calling for, for generations – the protection and preservation of our neighborhoods and our city’s historic homes, businesses, schools and churches.

What I discovered throughout the hundreds of hours APG spent attending city meetings, writing letters and lobbying City officials on behalf of saving Alhambra’s historic buildings and homes, is that for decades our city leaders have been beholden to moneyed, special interests instead of Alhambra’s residents. Developers and larger real estate interests consider “historic preservation” measures an impediment to their plans for uncontrolled, massive development. Meanwhile Alhambrans suffer the effects of increased traffic, stressed city services and infrastructure and the continued loss of trees and green, open space. This system benefits the few at the expense of many. I firmly believe that if there had been provisions in place similar to what Measure V is proposing when APG was founded, we would have saved many historic homes and preserved our neighborhoods.

I STRONGLY encourage APG members and Alhambra residents to VOTE YES ON MEASURE V. It will greatly limit the influence that Big Money (i.e. developers and real estate interests) has on the decision-making within Alhambra City Hall. It will also give a voice to residents who, for too many years, have been drowned out by policies decided on outside of their immediate neighborhoods by politicians with a bigger agenda.

Measure V is endorsed by a coalition of organizations and supported by the entire Alhambra City Council. If you’d like to learn more, visit the Yes on Measure V website.

Vote YES ON MEASURE V and send a clear message that Alhambra is not for sale!

Graphic courtesy of Yes on Measure VAlhambrans for Election and Campaign Finance Reform.

This.Place.Matters.Pyrenees.CastleThe City of Alhambra is taking its first steps toward the development of a historic preservation program, and we need you to be there…from the comfort of your own home! We’ve counted on you in the past and you’ve been there for us, for our communities and for preserving our city’s collection of historic homes.

Please plan on attending the City of Alhambra City Council meeting at 7:00 p.m. on July 13, 2020 via either your computer (for video & audio) or phone (audio).

“We are pleased that the City of Alhambra is remaining true to its General Plan goals as they relate to historic preservation,” stated Oscar Amaro, President and Founder of Alhambra Preservation Group. “We are also grateful to this City Council for FINALLY making the development of a historic preservation program a priority after 17 years of advocacy on our part. We look forward to working with the City of Alhambra to adopt an ordinance that preserves and protects Alhambra’s many historic resources and sends the message that ‘This Place Matters.'”

At this meeting, City of Alhambra staff will present Item #2 “Historic Preservation Program” to City Council for their consideration. Per the July 13 agenda, major steps to be discussed will focus on (1) the preparation of a Historic Context Assessment, (2) an in-depth survey of potential significant properties, and (3) the development of a regulatory framework with an ordinance. Each step will encourage community outreach and participation. The recommended action is that City Council receive and file the presentation, discuss the 3-step Historic Preservation Program and initiate its implementation by authorizing the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Step 1 of the Historic Preservation Program, which is the preparation of a Historic Context Assessment.

Here is how you can participate in the July 13 City Council meeting:

If you are interested in participating in the meeting via Zoom, please use the Zoom Webinar direct link at the top of the July 13 City Council agenda.

If you are interested in listening by phone, please dial 1-669-900-9128 or 1-346-248-7799 or 1-253-215-8782. When prompted, please enter Webinar ID: 895 8304 3401 and Password: 499020698.

All members of the public calling or logging into the meeting will be muted so that the meeting can proceed without interruption.

For those wishing to speak on an agenda item, please e-mail David Tran at dtran@cityofalhambra.org by 5:00 p.m. on July 13 with the item number you wish to speak on and the phone number you will use when calling or the name you will use when logging into the meeting. You should then call or log into the meeting at least 10 minutes prior to its start time of 7:00 p.m. on July 13, 2020. You will have five minutes to speak, subject to Mayor’s discretion.

Alternatively, you may e-mail your comments to the City Clerk at lmyles@cityofalhambra.org by no later than 5:00 p.m. on July 13, 2020. Comments will be read into the records, with a maximum allowance of five minutes per individual comment, subject to Mayor’s discretion.

Thank you for your ongoing support in joining with Alhambra Preservation Group to fight for the preservation and protection of Alhambra’s historic, architectural and cultural resources. Your willingness to stand alongside APG for the last 17 years has led us to this historic day.

If you should have any questions, please feel free to e-mail us at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

Marguerita.Curtis.HomesWe need your help to save one of Alhambra’s few remaining Bungalow Courts and a Craftsman home.

On July 16, Alhambra’s Planning Commission will hear a proposed development to raze a 1923 bungalow court at 234 South Marguerita Avenue and an adjacent 1908 Arts and Crafts home at 237 South Curtis Avenue, which sits directly east of the bungalow court. The owner/developer proposes combining these two parcels. The development will destroy affordable housing units to build at-market valued condominiums.

Alhambra Preservation Group strongly opposes this proposed development. We urge residents to join us in stopping the destruction of historic buildings and affordable housing units in Alhambra,” stated Oscar Amaro, Founder and President of Alhambra Preservation Group. “In other cities, a bungalow court and Craftsman home like this would be preserved and protected. Instead, in Alhambra, it is developers and a ‘pay-to-play’ system that is preserved and protected. This system sends a signal to outside developers and business interests that Alhambra is easy to pillage, plunder and profit from destroying our city’s character and neighborhoods,” continued Amaro.

Please join Alhambra Preservation Group in opposing this project. Here’s how you can help:

  1. Sign this petition opposing the development on South Marguerita and South Curtis.
  2. Share the petition on social media and encourage your neighbors to sign it.
  3. Write a letter opposing this development and e-mail it to Paul Lam at plam@cityofalhambra.org by 4:30 p.m. on July 16. Letters received by 4:30 p.m. will be read into the record at the Planning Commission meeting.
  4. Participate in the virtual Planning Commission meeting at 7 p.m. on July 16, 2020 and speak out against this project. Here is the Planning Commission Agenda. For those interested in speaking out, please e-mail Paul Lam at plam@cityofalhambra.org by 5:00 p.m. on July 16, specifying that you’d like to speak on Item #5. Include the phone number you will use when calling or the name you will use when logging into the meeting virtually.

Until the City of Alhambra adopts a historic preservation ordinance, which will put into place the appropriate review process to determine the historical, architectural and cultural significance of Alhambra’s homes and buildings, our city’s historic homes will continue to be destroyed.

At the July 13 City Council meeting, the City of Alhambra took historic first steps towards developing a historic preservation program, which will include an ordinance. Because Alhambra has begun the process of developing a comprehensive historic preservation program, Alhambra Preservation Group is advocating for a moratorium on all development that proposes the razing of homes and buildings.

Help us stop this development! It’s time the City of Alhambra prioritized people and preservation over profits!

Photos courtesy of Meehar Tom.


This year we are focusing on 1920s Alhambra. In this issue, we shine the spotlight on three 1920s-era buildings that are still standing in Alhambra and retain many of their defining characteristics, almost a century after they were built.

Architecturally, the 1920s introduced Art Deco, Neo-Gothic, and Beaux-Arts and many other styles of architecture to the world. It was no different in Southern California. Here in Alhambra, the Roaring Twenties was a time of tremendous growth and change as our young city welcomed a huge influx of new residents and businesses; a decade in which the local population tripled in size. It was the Jazz Age, when “Anything goes!” was the mood and everything seemed possible. Construction exploded and Alhambra saw the design of buildings that ranged from a Carnegie-funded Greek Revival-styled library to an Egyptian-themed movie theater. Sadly, many of these 1920s-era buildings have either been razed or altered beyond recognition.

Despite significant losses through the decades, Alhambra still has a number of outstanding examples of 1920s-era architecture. These buildings should be preserved, protected and celebrated. The Granada, formerly the LA Gas and Electric Corporation headquarters; the Carmelite Monastery on Alhambra Road; and The Alhambra, formerly the C F Braun & Co. headquarters, are shining examples of how the architecture of the 1920s touched the lives of Alhambrans a century ago and how that architecture still influences us today.

The Granada, formerly the Los Angeles Gas and Electric Corporation

The.Granada.Present.DayConstructed in 1929 at a cost of $160,000, the building was designed by LA Gas Company architects and engineers to evoke the period of the Italian Renaissance. Arched window and door openings predominate, with a glazed terra cotta base surmounted with varied-colored brick in harmonizing shades.

On September 7, 1929 the company held an “open house” at its handsome new office building. The public was invited to visit and to view the beautiful new offices. Music was furnished for the occasion by the company’s own orchestra, comprised entirely of Gas Company employees. Refreshments were served, and Manager Roy C. Gardner was on hand to greet the public as host of the gala event.

The.Granada.1930sNewspapers of the day raved about the impressive design and architecture of the building. The first floor contained the main lobby and corporate business offices, manager’s office, investigation room, vault, and distribution department offices.

Of beam and girder design, the interior featured floral decorations in pastel shades ornamenting the soffits and molds of the beams. In the northeast corner of the lobby was an enormous fireplace with a mantle of onyx inserts. The frontage on 1st Street was divided into large display windows, which were flood-lighted for the display of various household gas appliances. The main public stairs leading to the mezzanine floor featured a balustrade of ornamental ironwork. A mezzanine bordered the south and west walls and served as the display and demonstration area for the new gas- and electric-powered household appliances. The woodwork and doors on the first and mezzanine floors were of mahogany, as was the main public stairway leading to the second floor.

At one end of the lobby, a raised platform showcased the installed, fully equipped model tiled kitchen whose purpose was to introduce the public to the uses and benefits of natural gas, “The Modern Fuel.” The demonstration kitchen at the Los Angeles Gas and Electric Corporation was in frequent use as the venue for cooking classes and “household expositions” conducted by Florence Austin Chase, a nationally-known authority on home economics who also wrote a “women’s column” in the Alhambra Post-Advocate.

The Gas Company maintained offices at this location until 1965 when the building was sold to the West San Gabriel Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. Today it is The Granada, a dance studio, nightclub, and event facility.

The Carmelite Monastery


The Carmel of St. Teresa in Alhambra was established in 1913, when five Carmelite Sisters left St. Louis, Missouri to establish a cloistered monastery in the Los Angeles area. Led by their Prioress, Mother Baptista, they lived in rented houses for 10 years until the present monastery could be built in Alhambra—the first one of their order in California. The cornerstone for this building was laid in June of 1922, with members of all Catholic orders in the Los Angeles area present at the ceremony.

A dignified Mediterranean Renaissance Revival building clad in red brick and capped by gabled roofs of red clay tile, the residence and sanctuary reflect their inspiration—cloistered European convents of the 16th and 17th Centuries. An outstanding example of Carmelite.Loggiasthis type and style of architecture, the convent was described in the Pasadena Post upon its opening on June 24, 1923 as “one of the finest in the United States”. A classically articulated portal of pre-cast concrete defines the monastery’s entrance. The first floor of the convent is defined by loggias at the south and west elevations, which overlook a broad expanse of lawn and garden.

The convent’s sanctuary faces Alhambra Road. Reached by two flights of shallow steps, the entry is framed by columns that are surmounted by a classical entablature, consisting of an elaborately molded architrave and frieze and a broken scroll pediment. The name of the convent is chiseled into the frieze. Centered above the entrance, a deeply inset circular window is adorned by a quatrefoil reveal of cast stone. This site, at the corner of Monterey Street and Alhambra Road, was selected for the convent because of its particular beauty. Originally an orange grove, the site’s location provided an unrestricted view of the San Gabriel Mountains to the east, with snow-capped ranges just beyond.

John_C._AustinAlhambra’s Carmelite Monastery was designed by one of Southern California’s most prominent architects. John C. Austin was born in England in 1870, immigrating to California in the 1890’s. He established an architectural practice in Los Angeles in 1895. Austin was very active in local civic affairs, serving as President of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the Southern California Historical Society, and the Jonathan Club, as well as the California Board of Architectural Examiners. He designed some of the most famous and easily-recognized landmark buildings in the Los Angeles area, many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among these distinguished buildings are the Los Angeles City Hall, the Shrine Auditorium, and the Griffith Observatory.

The Alhambra, formerly the C F Braun & Co. Headquarters


Carl Franklin Braun, the founder C F Braun & Co. was a man who was always looking forward. Born in Oakland, CA in 1884, the son of California pioneers of Swedish and Danish descent, Carl Braun grew to be a man of many talents — an engineer, a salesman, a bibliophile, a teacher and an author. He studied mechanical engineering at Stanford University and started C F Braun & Co. in 1909 with a few associates and $500 capital. His firm would go on to become a 20th century leader in petro-chemical engineering, making substantial contributions to the World War II effort by working around the clock to build plants that produced aviation-grade fuel and synthetic rubber.

Braun Portrait.1954C F Braun & Co. moved its international headquarters to Alhambra from San Francisco in 1921. The complex included towering brick walls, 22 buildings and a landscaped plaza on 36 acres. The primary building material for this “modern office complex” was brick – all purchased from the same San Francisco manufacturer. Braun was a practical man, an engineer, who didn’t hesitate to move or modify buildings — or to build new ones — according to the nature of the work in which the company was involved and the functional needs of its various manufacturing projects. The significance — and the beauty — of this campus is that, through dozens of modifications and 92 years of operation, purposeful attention to architectural character and detail has preserved the integrated whole.

Braun.interior Office Complex.1952-1C F Braun & Co.’s interior offices featured wood paneling and were “pleasingly appointed and well-lighted” as described in a promotional brochure. It had every amenity needed for a modern manufacturing plant including a state-of-the-art engineering library, woman’s lounge, men’s locker room, a restaurant and a medical office staffed by an on-site physician. Mr. Braun’s goal was to “provide comfortable and pleasant surroundings for its workers, of every class, that they may have pleasure in their work and pride in their plant and product.” He took a great deal of pride in the “modern workplace” that he created.

The Granada, the Carmelite Monastery and The Alhambra are an integral part of Alhambra’s story. They inform Alhambrans about what life was like and how people lived and worked during the 1920s – a time of intense growth in our city. They offer a visual history. Their designs were thoughtful. Their materials and workmanship reveal the artistry, industry and aesthetic of the people who built them and the time in which they were built. When we allow historic buildings to be demolished, we sacrifice those touchstones that, by revealing our past, can help to inform decisions about our future.

Alhambra Preservation Group continues its work to protect and preserve Alhambra’s local historic and architectural landmarks and to celebrate their unique and irreplaceable contributions to our city’s community and culture.

A special thank you to Chris Olson, former president and board of member of Alhambra Preservation Group, for her assistance in writing this article.

Virtual.Yosemite.3With COVID-19 turning our world upside down, we’re all looking for ways to occupy our time while we stay safer at home. Why not take advantage of all the free virtual tours available online? 

From a spooky Gothic revival mansion in New York to Pasadena’s iconic Gamble house, there are dozens of architecturally and historically significant homes, museums and sites for you to “tour.” Below you’ll find just a sampling of available virtual tours. Grab your drink of choice, take a seat in your favorite easy chair and enjoy touring these architectural gems from the comfort of your own home.

Gothic Revival

Lyndhurst Mansion is one of America’s finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture. Built in 1838 in Tarryton, NY, overlooking the Hudson River, it is surrounded by park-like gardens. Start your virtual tour here.


Mark Twain lived with his family in a Victorian home in Hartford, CT between 1874 and 1891. This was the home where he wrote his classics including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Now you can virtually tour this home

The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA began as an eight-room farmhouse but grew to a 24,000 square foot, 160-room home when Sarah Winchester owned it. Much of its construction happened between 1886 and 1922, at the height of Victorian design. A virtual tour of this sprawling mansion is available for purchase. 

Arts and Crafts

As a British poet, textile designer and novelist, William Morris is often credited as the originator of the late 1800s Arts and Crafts philosophy and movement. The William Morris Society, whose mission is to “perpetuate the memory of one of the greatest men of the Victorian Age,” offers a virtual tour of their museum. William Morris’ country home, the Red House, located in Bexleyheath, England, also provides a virtual peek inside

Charles Rennie Mackintosh had a relatively short architectural career but his impact was significant. Virtual tours of several of his designs are available – 78 Derngate is a Northampton, UK home, designed as a “charming and up-to-date miniature residence.” The Mackintosh House in Glasgow, Scotland is a meticulous re-assembly of Charles and Margaret Mackintosh’s home. Mackintosh’s iconic 1903 Willows TeaRoom can also be toured virtually.

It’s in our backyard, but we’re betting that there’s a few of you who have never toured Pasadena’s Gamble House. Known as an Arts and Crafts masterpiece, the Gamble House was the summer home of the Gamble family and built in 1907 by Charles and Henry Greene. Now you can tour this iconic Arts and Crafts home virtually

Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel is one of the crown jewels of our national park system. Built in the 1920s to attract well-to-do guests, the Ahwahnee’s Great Lounge and Dining Room are breathtaking and not to be missed. Now these majestic rooms, as well as its other cozier public rooms, can be toured virtually. If you’re interested, you can tour all of Yosemite virtually


Did you know that the word Alhambra comes from an Arabic root that means “red or crimson castle”? That’s how the Alhambra of Granada, Spain was named. Now you can tour this Moorish palace and fortress virtually and learn more about this 8th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site from which our city derives its name.

Built overlooking beautiful Biscayne Bay, Florida, Vizcaya is a Mediterranean Revival-style villa designed by architect Francis Burral Hoffman and built by millionaire James Deering in the early 20th century. Italian Renaissance-style gardens surround the $15 million home. Sadly, James Deering died before Vizcaya was completed. Its beautiful rooms and gardens can be toured virtually

His architecture may not qualify as Spanish – his designs fall more into the Catalan Modernist genre – but Antoni Gaudi is a distinctly Spanish architect. Google Arts & Culture offers virtual tours of 11 of Gaudi’s most well-known designs from La Basilica de Sagrada Familia to Park Guell. If you’re not familiar with him, take some time to discover the unique architecture of Antoni Gaudi. We promise these virtual tours will leave you amazed and figuring out how you can get to Barcelona to see Gaudi’s designs in person.

Mid-Century Modern

Atomic Ranch has done a wonderful job curating eight mid-century modern homes into which we can take a peek. From Palm Springs to Portland, from South Carolina to Sweden, check out this article where you can escape to the mid-century modern world of floor-to-ceiling windows sporting amazing views, picture-perfect split levels and bright orange fire hoods. 

Want more? House Beautiful has compiled a listing of virtual tours of historic sites around the world including the Eiffel Tower, Machu Pichu and the Taj Mahal. Your trip to some of our planet’s most beautiful sites, begins here.

Have you taken any other virtual tours while staying safer at home? Share your virtual tours with us at info@alhambrapreservation.org and we’ll share them on our Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Virtual Yosemite and Alhambra Preservation Group.