Pasadena Architectural Jewels I, Pasadena

Pasadena Architectural Jewels I (Self Guided), Pasadena

The city of grand architectural heritage unmatched by any other Southland destination, Pasadena, California, boasts an array of beautiful buildings and construction engineering marvels. As the birthplace of the ultimate craftsman bungalows created by architects Henry and Charles Greene in the early 1900s and home to the most stunning 1920s period revival styles in the Southland, Pasadena trailblazed the historic preservation movement.

In the first part of our tour, we'll explore six iconic landmarks that make Pasadena's architectural heritage truly unique.

Millard House, also known as La Miniatura, created by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1923, is a prime example of Wright's distinctive "textile block" style. Its captivating patterns and geometric shapes make it a masterpiece of architectural innovation.

Gamble House: This exquisite piece of architecture, designed by Charles and Henry Greene in 1909, showcases meticulous American Craftsman prowess. Its dark woodwork, leaded glass windows, and harmonious integration with nature make it a timeless gem.

Colorado Street Bridge, known locally as the "Suicide Bridge" for its haunting history, is an iconic Beaux-Arts overpass constructed in 1913. It spans the Arroyo Seco River and offers panoramic views of the city below.

Once a luxurious hotel, the Spanish Colonial Revival building of the Vista del Arroyo Hotel today houses the US Court of Appeals. Its distinctive archways, red-tiled roofs, and lush gardens transport visitors to a bygone era.

Nestled atop Tournament Park, Wrigley Mansion was originally built by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. Its combined Mission and Spanish Revival-style architecture and beautifully landscaped grounds are a testament to opulence.

Batchelder House, the former home of Ernest Batchelder, a pioneer in the American Arts and Crafts movement, dates back to 1910. Its distinctive tiled hearths and artistic elements attest to Batchelder's influence in the Arts and Crafts era.

Exploring these masonry treasures offers a good opportunity to appreciate the fusion of art and history that defines Pasadena's architectural landscape.
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Pasadena Architectural Jewels I Map

Guide Name: Pasadena Architectural Jewels I
Guide Location: USA » Pasadena (See other walking tours in Pasadena)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Author: HollyB
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Millard House
  • Gamble House
  • Colorado Street Bridge
  • Vista del Arroyo Hotel (US Court of Appeals)
  • Wrigley Mansion (Tournament of Roses Association)
  • Batchelder House
Millard House

1) Millard House

Millard House dates back to 1923 and is a stunning example of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture that diverges from much of his previous work. This home's unique style is the "textile block" that became popular in Southern California during the 1920s. The house has enjoyed National Historic Register status since 1976.

The house's design uses concrete blocks with a symmetrical cross design. This house spans 2,400 square feet and three stories, with a vertical block design. A reflecting pool is outside the kitchen, in the terrace area.

The third floor has a second terrace, providing even more connections to the outdoors. A 1926 addition to the house included a studio and guest house.

This home's unique style makes it stand out, with few three-story houses using a reasonably compact space as well as this one does. Despite Wright's misgivings about the use of concrete, the overall effect on this property has helped make it a Pasadena landmark.
Gamble House

2) Gamble House (must see)

The Gamble House stands out as an example of architecture serving as a type of art. One of the roles that the house fulfills is highlighting architecture as a kind of art that requires recognition and preservation. The home's architecture and furnishing serve as examples of the importance of homes as an art form.

One of the ways the house serves to advance the cause of architecture as an art is by offering tours. This 1908 house was once the home of David and Mary Gamble, who were partly responsible for starting the Proctor & Gamble company. The National Historic landmark status of this property has made preservation efforts all the more critical.

Guided tours that include the exterior and the gardens are popular with visitors. The docents have extensive knowledge of the methods used to make the gardens and terraces into such exemplary outdoor living spaces. Visitors will learn more about how these elements make the area unique.

This house is a perfect example of the architecture that makes the American Craftsman style so remarkable. You will learn exciting information about the home's construction and its ownership until acquisition by the City of Pasadena in 1966.

Why You Should Visit

See beautiful grounds and gardens that are perfect examples of how outdoor spaces can be utilized.
Appreciate the value of art as exemplified by art objects and the house itself


When taking guided tours, be sure to arrive at least 10 minutes before the scheduled start time, especially if touring as part of a group.
Colorado Street Bridge

3) Colorado Street Bridge

In Pasadena, the Colorado Street Bridge crosses over the Arroyo Seco and is a landmark concrete arch bridge. This bridge was built in 1912 as a replacement for the original Scoville Bridge.

This bridge has the distinction of National Register of Historic Places status, as well as National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark status. The bridge features a curved design that allows for more solid ground for the footings.

Because this bridge is a local icon and a part of local history, the structure has been a famous location for TV series and movies. TV shows where the bridge has been featured have included Emergency!, Full House, Fear Factor, and The Amazing Race.

The bridge has also been featured in La La Land, a 2016 musical. Lana Del Rey used this bridge as a location for the video for the song "Summertime Sadness."

Each summer, traffic on the bridge closes for "A Celebration on the Colorado Street Bridge." The July event includes live musical performances, as well as plenty of great foods to enjoy.
Vista del Arroyo Hotel (US Court of Appeals)

4) Vista del Arroyo Hotel (US Court of Appeals)

The former Vista del Arroyo Hotel is now the site of the Richard H. Chambers United States Court of Appeals. This building was initially constructed between 1920 and 1930 and saw refurbishment when the federal government acquired it to serve as a courthouse.

The style is Spanish Colonial Revival, one of the building styles popular in the western portion of Pasadena. Some of the features that visitors will immediately notice are a fountain fully restored to the original use and a pergola covered in roses.

This building's walls are stucco, with arched openings and a roof with terracotta tiles. Exterior details include twisted balusters, circular windows, and a tower with a beautifully-embellished roof.

Visitors can tour the courthouse's first floor by appointment. These tours are only available on weekdays when the court is not in session. Visitors can see recreated plaster decorations in areas that are now a courtroom, a library, and foyers.
Wrigley Mansion (Tournament of Roses Association)

5) Wrigley Mansion (Tournament of Roses Association)

The Wrigley Mansion, also known as Tournament House and Wrigley Gardens, serves as the Tournament of Roses headquarters. There are four and a half acres on this property, including gardens filled with annuals, camellias, and roses. There are over 1,500 floral varieties here.

Roses are the main highlight of the gardens, with all the most popular varieties represented. Test gardens for the All-America Rose Selection are on the grounds, and visitors have a chance to see distinct types.

In addition to the grounds being open all year, the inside of the house is open Thursday afternoons from February to August. There are memorabilia representing 125 years of Tournament of Roses history on display in the home.

Some of the Tournament-related items visitors can see include the current Rose Queen's portrait, a Waterford crystal bowl crafted for the centennial celebration, and crowns and tiaras that the previous Queens and Princesses wore.
Batchelder House

6) Batchelder House

Bachelder House dates back to 1910, and one of its original owners, Ernest A. Batchelder, was involved with the Arts and Crafts Movement, which contributed heavily to much of the area's architecture. This home's design incorporates many of the elements common in Swiss chalets.

Ernest Batchelder had his first studio inside the home, where he created decorative tiles. Alice Coleman, Bachelder's wife, was a musician, and the couple frequently used their backyard space to host concerts.

Many of Batchelder's tiles ended up being incorporated into the front walkway. These tiles help provide a beautiful addition to the home's yard area. This property is perfect for photo opportunities, and visitors will enjoy accessing the grounds.

The home's chimney also makes use of decorative tile, helping to provide a unique look to this crucial part of the house. Regardless of how much you know about architecture or art, you are likely to find this home impressive.

Walking Tours in Pasadena, California

Create Your Own Walk in Pasadena

Create Your Own Walk in Pasadena

Creating your own self-guided walk in Pasadena is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Pasadena Introduction Walking Tour

Pasadena Introduction Walking Tour

Only ten miles away from Los Angeles but having a distinct character, Pasadena is most famous for being host to the Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl. With a location at the San Gabriel Mountains' feet, the city initially received its fame as a resort town in 1886.

The city's name comes from a word in the Chippewa language that translates to "Crown of the Valley."...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Pasadena Architectural Jewels II

Pasadena Architectural Jewels II

In the second part of our journey through Pasadena's architectural gems, we'll continue to uncover the city's rich artistic heritage through five more distinguished landmarks, some of which have made appearances in movies, TV shows, and commercials.

Saint Andrew's Church is a striking example of Romanesque & Byzantine Revival architecture, distinguished for its soaring...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles