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Pasadena Showcase – It’s a Wonderful House

Courtesy photo /Lynn Van Dam Cooper


By Susan Motander

Every year the members of the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts host a party to reveal that year’s house in its “before” condition. The celebration also introduces that year’s designers and the concepts for their designated areas. The “before” state of houses has varied greatly, from looking like construction sites to well decorated, but dated homes. This year, the house has a plethora of small rooms, but still showing a home with great structural “bones.”

The home chosen this year features an almost 7,500 square foot house in the English Tudor revival style. The red brick structure has the traditional half-timbering on the upper stories with leaded glass windows and a slate roof. Nineteen distinct design areas have been allotted to different firms.

The house is set on two acres and there are several separate sections of the garden. Six specific gardens have been planned (can you believe there is even a three and a half foot waterfall and a 70 foot long brook wandering through the garden?).

While tickets will go on sale next month, the house will not be open until April 23. That gives the designers just 90 days to work their magic and transform these spaces and complete the garden planting. Tickets range from $35-45 and go on sale Feb. 1.  The house will be open for visits Tuesdays through Sundays.

Perhaps one of the interesting side features of the home this year is its original owner. The house was built in 1916 at a cost of $25,000. It was built for Pasadena lawyer Samuel Hinds. As a local attorney, he had been one of the founders of the Pasadena Playhouse, taking some roles in its productions as a hobby. After the stock market crash in 1929, Hinds lost most of his money, but found work in acting instead. He is perhaps best known for his role as Peter Bailey in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In the movie, Peter Bailey founds Bailey Building and Loan, a company that makes home ownership possible for people. Now his home will be used to make music available to more people.

The proceeds from the Pasadena Showcase House support music programs throughout the community. Among these is the annual youth concert for 4th graders at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, and the Music Mobile the takes a hands-on introduction to classical music to third grade students in the area. In addition, they hold an instrumental music competition each year with prize money to assist the young musicians with their musical education. And finally the group has given out more than $20 million in gifts and grants supporting everything from brass for a junior high school band to free lunchtime concerts in a church in Pasadena. Every year there is something different in both the grants and the home.

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