Bungalow Heaven, a neighborhood of 800+ historic homes in Pasadena, CA, truly is a paradise. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the area was built between 1900 & 1930 & designated in 1989, as a local landmark district. Thankfully, this status has been instrumental in protecting it from the pop design of HGTV.
I discovered Bungalow Heaven when I lived in Pasadena. Though occupying only 6 blocks by 6 blocks, entering its streets, you are completely immersed in the period. Even the historic vibe of the whole, beautiful city doesn’t smoothly ease you into this perfectly preserved jewel box of a neighborhood. Holy DeLorean, it’s a time machine!
Thanks for much of this wonder can be given to The Bungalow Heaven Neighborhood Association. BHNA is a crackerjack, non-profit organization of volunteers dedicated to the preservation of the homes & enhancing the lifestyle of its district. When we shakily formed our first home tour committee in nearby Eagle Rock, the historic community where I lived to the west, it was suggested that we volunteer as docents for the BH tour so we could learn what to do. I had been on their tour several times & had admired it from my event producer’s eye, but due to being dazzled by the charming bungalows, I hadn’t really paid much attention to the workings of the tour machine.
Like the rest of the organization, it was finely-tuned & well-oiled. The tour, only one of the group’s many activities, is a massive undertaking due to the amount of volunteer coordination & the directing of the hoards of attendees. They also have to ensure the protection & comfort of the homeowners, so each task is clearly delineated & drilled in the weeks before the tour. It was great to receive this training & experience & provided us with the template that we used to form our own fledgling committee.
My wood flooring company was privileged to restore many of floors in Bungalow Heaven. Please understand that we had moved from a bungalow neighborhood in Phoenix, but we had never experienced such wonders as we saw here. I was introduced to clinker brick, to Arroyo rock & I was treated to my first inglenook in BH, in the home of a flooring customer. My husband requested that I be given a tour of the home & they graciously agreed. I was enchanted. When I learned about their yearly home tour, I was thrilled to be able to enter these homes that were so carefully restored & preserved, beautifully furnished, with most decorated in the A&C style.
WHAT MAKES BUNGALOW HEAVEN SO SPECIAL?
Bungalow Heaven is the poster child for the Arts & Crafts Movement. Though the Movement’s origins are in England, both its aesthetic & its philosophy were brought to the United States in the early 1900’s & California heartily embraced them.
The natural materials revered by the Movement are abundant in the state. In the forests grew acres of fir, oak, redwood & Ponderosa pine providing lumber for building. California’s mild climate lent itself to the idea of living with nature, allowing houses to have many windows & sleeping porches in which to spend hot summer nights.
The nearby Arroyo Seco, Spanish for “dry gulch” runs 8 miles through Pasadena & provided beautiful stone for building & adorning houses. Pasadena’s beautiful topography, rich soil & mild weather provided the perfect setting in which lush vegetation flourished.
Pasadena spawned & inspired the applied artistry of people such as The Greene Brothers, who designed the Gamble House to enhance the setting & honored the natural environment in every detail. The extraordinary work of Pasadena resident, Ernest Batchelder, tile-maker, is seen in many homes in the neighborhood.
Additionally, the modest homes of Bungalow Heaven were within the reach of the working class. People of moderate means could afford to live in a beautiful city with views of the San Gabriel Mountains, enjoy well-built homes with a variety of attractive details & friendly front porches, & had the added benefit of being near transportation, commerce & job opportunities.
This wonder, a piece of Pasadena that is Bungalow Heaven, is an amalgamation of the history, the homes & the neighborhood spirit. Read about it in this informative book, view it on a driving tour or, catch their spring home tour!
TIP: Read about other preservation groups holding wonderful events in Southern California, click, HERE!
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