I’ve been trying to piece together the history of our new home and hope you who have more information will help me out. I went down to the Pasadena Historical Society and they were most helpful, going back into their files to produce these photos. There wasn’t a lot written, from what I’ve gathered, but I know it was built by the acclaimed Pasadena architects Marston, Van Pelt and Maybury in 1922, the same builders of the Fenyes Estate, the Pasadena Library, the Home Laundry and the Grace Nicholson home, now the USC Pacific Asia Museum. It’s older than City Hall!
I’ve also pieced together from rumor that the staff of the mortuary lived in one bedroom apartments above, now offices. The chapel shares the complex with the Eden Gardens restaurant to the West – formerly the Holly Street Bar and Grill – and the Institute for Girls to the East. It was reportedly on the UCLA Paranormal List in the 1960s, though no unusual activity has occurred so far. (Theaters do traditionally get along with all sorts.)
The chapel itself was in disuse for a number of years, serving as a yoga studio at one point, business offices at another, and the occasional banquet hall for Eden Gardens. Parson’s Nose made a point of keeping as much of the original structure and peaceful ambience as possible. We gave the entire chapel new coats of paint, built sound-proofing walls and a dressing room, installed a light grid and had the complex brought up to fire code. We made it a theater.
We were aided in the process by our good friend and brilliant problem-solver Mike Bollenbacher (Lincoln Restaurant) who was kind enough to guide us while also building a town in Mississippi! And our friends in the city, including Rochelle Branch at the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Commission and our council rep John Kennedy were especially helpful when needed. The process was long and costly, but with help, the bridge was crossed!
So please come join us for our new season – Mark Twain is on now – and enjoy this refurbished Pasadena treasure. Have a glass of wine, look up at Marston’s marvelous ceiling and stained glass window, sit back and enjoy a laugh in our beautiful home. And please share any stories that will help us learn more about it.