It’s nice to see that vacant historic buildings in Pasadena that were waiting for a new form of life for the duration of the pandemic start welcoming new tenants.
By Marina Khrustaleva
I was monitoring a stretch of buildings across the street from Central Park and was glad to see them revitalized. A historic Star Saddle Livery at 155 S Fair Oaks Ave, a little gem by Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey built in 1906, originally served guests from the Hotel Green who were interested in pleasure riding. It became an auto repair shop in the 1930s, and the Lane Paper Company in the 1970s, when it was, surprisingly, painted black.
The livery once appeared in the news for a sad reason: on March 6, 1910, “Shirley, a favorite saddle horse belonging to the Star livery and well-known in town, was killed by an inbound three-car train on the Pacific Electric late Saturday evening. The horse had been trained with others to go to the watering trough and return to his stall unguided, but on this occasion, he went out of the stable and was crossing the street when struck.” (Los Angeles Herald, March 7, 1910)
The livery building has been on the market for a while, despite the primary location and dramatic realtor’s photos. Now, it has become the Livery Studio – “beautiful boutique coworking spaces within a charming historic livery stable.” The website announces “beautiful kitchens, multi-purpose event space, conference rooms, and open collaboration areas.” More importantly, it shows uncovered red brick, original barn doors with a turning wheel, and an elegant wrought-iron staircase.
The 200 block of South Fair Oaks Ave was developed in the early 1920s. 199 S. Fair Oaks originally was a furniture finishing workshop, and later a tool and die manufacturing. 205 S. Fair Oaks was a restaurant for many decades; 217 and 219 S. Fair Oaks initially were a hand laundry and a store, and by 1950 became a restaurant and a machine shop (there was a small gas station at the corner). The ghost sign for the laundry is still visible on the north façade of 217 S. Fair Oaks.
This row of red-brick buildings used to host a bunch of different businesses before COVID: an antique rugs store with a never-ending closing sale, Thomas Lake’s building company, Happy Trails Catering with the Garden Café, The Folk Tree Gallery, and Central Park Grille. They have been boarded up for several years. Now all five buildings have become Kitchen United – a successful mix of take-out restaurants that has been running at 55 S. Madison Ave for the last couple of years. The storefronts are restored and look fancy. And the old (folk) camphor tree, a highlight of the Garden Café, is still there, green and lush and blessing the neighborhood.
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