Part 3 – 1976 Restoration

The Pasadena Garden Club celebrated the opening of La Casita on April 28, 1933 with an orchid show held during the Convention of the California Federated Garden Club[s]. “The show was well patronized on both days. Afterward, the Pasadena Garden Club held a series of Sunday afternoon art exhibitions with hostesses serving tea to those who came. These exhibits featured the work of well-known California artists, particularly landscapes in oil and water colors.”

In the decades following the creation of La Casita, the Pasadena Garden Club continued in its efforts to beautify the city. Their many efforts included projects at the Old Mill and the Huntington Botanical Gardens. But La Casita resurfaces in the minutes of The Club in the 1970’s. The little meeting hall which for the previous 37 years had served its purpose as a community resource and garden center, was recommended to the Planning Commission as a Cultural Heritage Landmark by the Cultural Heritage Committee.

In 1975, the members of the Garden Club were contemplating what their Bicentennial gift to the city might be. In the minutes of the Board from June 16, Mrs. Francis Schlueter, the Club President, reminded the membership that La Casita had been constructed through the efforts of the PGC. She “pointed out that the building is owned and maintained by the City, but certainly needs some extra help.” During the course of the summer, she “contacted the Mayor’s office, Judith Thornburg of the Pasadena Historical Society, Fritz Zapf of the Department of Public Works, and John Adams of the City Planning Commissions’s Design Committee. They all gave an enthusiastic O.K. to the refurbishing of La Casita del Arroyo.” (PGC Minutes, September 22, 1975) At the regular meeting on September 23, “Mrs. Paul Erskine proposed an invitational home-garden tour [and tea] to be held…and that the refurbishing of La Casita del Arroyo would be our Bi-Centennial project,” financed by the home tour. The motion carried. It was hoped that sufficient funds would be generated by the benefit “Bouquets & Gardens” to sandblast the fireplace to return it to its natural stone and plaster, “the cross beams be stained, the plywood panels be removed, and the walls painted white. The committee planned to paint the chairs and tables and replace the carpeting.” (PGC Minutes, January 29, 1976). Funds raised by the successful home tour and tea which was held on March 30, 1976 generated $12,000.00 to restore the little house. (PGC Minutes, April 27, 1976). “The Garden Club is providing the direction and the funds while the city furnishes the painters, electricians and carpenters. The work is being done under the approval of the city’s Design Committee and the Cultural Heritage Commission.” (Scheliga) “When the task is completed, the building will contain new furnishings highlighting melon colored draperies and an Axminster carpet.”

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