Black business owners have a long, proud history in Pasadena.
By Melanie Hooks
Still standing as a retail location today (currently without tenants), the Francisca Building was commissioned by Black Pasadena lawyer and real estate broker James T. Phillips, Sr., and completed in 1923.
A host of Black-owned businesses have thrived in that building over the decades, including the pictured barbershop, law offices of Phillips himself, and most famously, the Blue Bird Cafe. The plethora of signs in the pictured cafe include one that reads: “Our Aim – Good Food. Courtesy. Service.” (They were serious about the courtesy — every single male customer and employee wore a tie! And the ladies’ hats – just spectacular!) James T. Phillips, Jr., became involved in local politics, and supported 1931’s African-American candidate Clarence A. Jones for Pasadena Board of Directors.
The Francisca Building stands at 24 Dayton Street, immediately west of Castle Green and Central Park, on the southern border of Old Pasadena.
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