On a beautiful spring morning in early March, two dozen members and friends of Alhambra Preservation Group participated in a private guided tour of the famed Judson Studios in Highland Park. An internationally-famous fine arts studio specializing in stained glass, the Judson Studios building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural landmark.
With more than a century of operation since its establishment by William Lees Judson and three of his sons in 1897, the Judson Studios have produced a remarkable body of work for installation in religious institutions, commercial buildings, and private homes. Examples of their artistry in stained glass can be found throughout Southern California and the United States, including: the rotunda skylight at the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles; Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Park and Ennis House in Los Angeles, both buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; St. James Episcopal Church in South Pasadena; All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena; the U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel in Colorado Springs; and the Stanford Court Hotel on Nob Hill in San Francisco.
Although a local survey of their work has never been attempted, it is more than likely that a few Judson stained glass windows still exist on display in private homes in Alhambra. Two of the Judson brothers who originally established the family-run business in the early 20th Century and worked as artists and designers also built their own homes in Alhambra and raised families here. These two Alhambra bungalows still stand, on North Electric and North Marguerita Avenues, and many of the neighboring homes built during that same period also feature stained glass windows worthy of notice and attention.
Photo courtesy of Debra Boudreau.
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A stunning 1932 Spanish Colonial Revival home, located in the Alhambra Park tract, received the 2013 Katherine Hildreth Memorial Heritage Home Award by Alhambra Preservation Group in a recent award ceremony. “The homeowners of this historic home have done an extraordinary job of restoring and rehabilitating this house since they purchased it a decade ago. It is a great example of the way historic preservation can pay big dividends to communities by enhancing property values and restoring neighborhood character and pride,” stated APG President Christine Olson in presenting the award.
When the current owners first saw the home in 2004, they fell in love with the home’s distinctive historic character and many original features – Spanish arches, hardwood floors and hand-troweled plaster walls. Despite its charm, the home needed a lot of TLC, so they went to work to make this house their own. They tore up old carpeting and refinished the original hardwood floors. They found a color palette that better reflected the home’s style. They redesigned the home’s “modern” 1950’s kitchen into one that is highly functional and beautifully characteristic of a Spanish style home. The home’s exterior also received a makeover that included new wrought iron fencing and gates, specifically designing them to match the style of the house. Just recently, the home’s landscaping plan was updated. Now a profusion of succulents and California desert plants grace this home.
Community has been a thread throughout this home’s 80-year history. Today that sense of community continues. Surrounding neighbors have discovered inspiration in this home’s restoration with several adjacent homeowners borrowing design ideas. This home’s rehabilitation is the perfect example of how historic preservation builds community as neighbors help neighbors, through the sharing of ideas, experiences and lives.
Photo courtesy of Mark Tran.
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