Monday, May 8, 2017

Have a (cannon)ball at our rummage sale on May 13


The Altadena Historical Society (AHS) will sell a wide variety of de-accessioned items from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 13, in the courtyard outside the Full Circle Thrift Store.

Included in the sale will be many books, pictures, pamphlets and picture frames—even a cannonball of unknown date and origin.

The thrift store is in the historic red brick Pacific Electric Co. powerhouse at 2245 N. Lake Ave., Altadena. (MAP)  Occupied by private businesses and not open to the public for several decades, the building with its soaring interior will be open for viewing and shopping.

AHS members will receive a 20% discount off their purchases. You can join right now from our secure online store.


“Every item in the sale has been scrupulously examined to determine whether it meets our mission, which is to preserve and promote the history of Altadena,” said Jane Brackman, Ph.D., society president.

The society’s archives and museum are located in the Altadena Community Center, 730 E. Altadena Drive, and are open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, and by appointment.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Learn about Altadena’s connection to the family of abolitionist John Brown



Writer and artist Hope Demetriades will discuss American abolitionists and Altadena’s connection to two sons of John Brown. The famous abolitionist lead the raid on an arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia n 1859 in hopes of starting a revolution to end slavery.

She will also display her original works of art that memorialize and canonize abolitionists.

The program is free and open to the public.

Monday, April 24, 2017
7:30 pm

Altadena Community Center
730 E. Altadena Drive
Altadena CA 91001



Friday, February 10, 2017

Memories about Altadena's Grocery Stores

We received so many memories from readers commenting on our January 2017 post about the closing of Ralphs, that we decided to include them here: 

Dick Bale wrote:
The store described in the blog as being on the southwest corner of Fair Oaks and Mendocino, was actually just south of Harriet. It was owned and operated by the McQuown family in the late 1930s through the ‘40s – perhaps later. Our home was just a few doors from the store and as a nine year old I liked to hang out with the man who operated the produce department. I’d help trim a crate of lettuce, pulling off any damaged leaves and rinsing the head in an outdoor sink behind the store. The McQuown’s also operated another modest grocery store on the east side of Altadena. I’m not certain but I believe it was on Altadena Drive near New York Drive or Washington St. Sometimes I’d go there with the produce man who let me ride on top of crates of vegetables in the back of his small stake truck. In the spring of 1942, when Roosevelt ordered all people of Japanese descent incarcerated, the Japanese produce manager signed everything, including his bank accounts and home, over to Mr. McQuown. When the war was over McQuown turned everything back to the returning Japanese family.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Free panel discussion on authors and cultural appropriation

NOTED AUTHORS AND ALTADENA PUBLISHER DEBATE WHETHER AUTHORS’ RACE, GENDER LIMITS WHAT THEY CAN WRITE ABOUT

A spirited talk between an Altadena publisher and three of her acclaimed authors will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday Feb. 2 at the Altadena Community Center (730 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena, California 91001) The event is open to the public free of charge.

The panel discussion will be among Naomi Hirahara, an Altadena native who is author of a mystery series set in that foothill community; Rachel M. Harper, author of 2016’s notable novel, “This Side of Providence;” Joyce Gittlin, television writer and director and author of numerous movie scripts for Disney, Paramount and 20th Century; and Colleen Dunn Bates, founder and publisher of Altadena-based Prospect Park Books.

Their talk will focus on issues raised in the play “Bee-luther-hatchee” by Thomas Gibbons, being presented at the Sierra Madre Playhouse through Feb. 18.   The discussion is sponsored and produced by the playhouse, and is hosted by the Altadena Historical Society.

The play follows a publisher, Shelita Burns, who seeks to meet a reclusive author whose “biography” of a 72-year-old black woman has won a major award.  To her profound shock, the author is not whom Shelita expected.  The play is a provocative look at cultural appropriation and who has the right to tell someone else’s story.

Hirahara, Harper, Gittlin and Bates will discuss whether an author of one sex, or race, may write as another.  Hirahara, as a Japanese-American, writes primarily about Japanese-American characters and Harper, an African-American, wrote about a Puerto Rican family in “…Providence.”

The production and public discussion programs are being made possible by a grant to the Playhouse from the Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Altadena' Most Memorable Floods

Although earlier flooding had taken its toll on Altadena decades before the 1934 flood that devastated La Crescenta, it was this flood that motivated the building of new infrastructure.

The 1934 flood took out large swathes of La Crescenta and Montrose
but most of Altadena was spared.

The New York Avenue extension bridge was finished soon after the La Crescenta Valley flood. Built by the WPA, it crossed Eaton Canyon wash to connect New York Drive to Sierra Madre Drive.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Free program on Jan. 23 on famed architects’ Altadena homes

Tim Gregory
CELEBRATED ALTADENA ARCHITECTS AND THE HOMES THEY DESIGNED FOR THEIR FAMILIES

Building Biographer Tim Gregory presents free Altadena Historical Society program Monday Jan. 23 on famed architects’ Altadena homes

Today, homes designed by Altadena architects Wallace Neff, Kenneth A. Gordon, Harold Bissner, and Theodore Pletsch are much sought after. But where did the architects themselves live?

Building Biographer Tim Gregory will present capsule biographies of these, and other, famous Altadena architects and of the Altadena homes they designed for their families in a free, public program presented by the Altadena Historical Society at 7:30 p.m. Monday Jan. 23.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

History of Grocery Stores in Altadena including Ralphs

Bye Bye Ralphs

Competition from the new Aldi's store on the corner of Lake and Calaveras is the likely reason that Ralphs will be closing at the end of this month. And although many of us will miss the local market with its neighborhood ambiance, history shows that Altadena's grocery stores come and go as time marches on.

Now Ralphs, the building at 2270 Lake Ave., 
constructed in the 1950s, was originally Market Basket. The
building will be vacant soon.
Photo: Leon Ricks

In 1930 Altadena boasted 35 grocery and meat market stores. Altadena Grocery Company (below) catered mostly to mansions like those along Mariposa, keeping kitchens stocked with fresh produce.


Altadena Grocery Store (Now Ms. Dragon Printing)