Image Gear - City of Pasadena

Image Gear - City of Pasadena


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Agenda Report TO:







RECOMMENDATION It is recommended that the City Council:

1. Acknowledge that the designation of a historic resource is categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act under Class 8, Actions by Regulatory Agencies for Protection of the Environment (CEQA Guidelines, Article 19, 915308); 2. As recommended by the Historic Preservation Commission, find that the house at 745 East Rio Grande Street is significant under Criterion c for designation as a landmark (P.M.C. s17.62.40 B) because it is architecturally intact and an excellent local example of a precut ("kit house") Colonial Revival bungalow that was eventually marketed nationally as the "Pasadena" model by the Aladdin Company of Michigan. 3. Approve the designation of the property at 745 East Rio Grande Street as a landmark. 4. Recommend that as part of the designation, the original front doors be restored to strengthen the historic integrity of the house. 5. Adopt the attached resolution approving a Declaration of Landmark Designation for 745 East Rio Grande Street, Pasadena, California; 6. Authorize the Mayor to execute the attached Declaration of Landmark Designation for 745 East Rio Grande Street, Pasadena, California; and 7. Direct the City Clerk to record the declaration with the Los Angeles County Recorder. RECOMMENDATION FROM THE HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION On December 18, 2006, at a noticed public hearing, the Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the designation of 745 East Rio Grande Street as a landmark.

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BACKGROUND Property owner, Joe Libonati, submitted the application for designation of 745 East Rio Grande Street. Because of the property's integrity and its importance as an intact representation of a precut bungalow that was eventually marketed nationally as the "Pasadena" model by the Aladdin Company of Michigan, the staff and the Historic Preservation Commission have concurred that the property should be designated as a landmark. DESCRIPTION Built in 1916, the one-story house is on East Rio Grande Street between North El Molino Street and North Lake Avenue. The surrounding neighborhood consists primarily of single-family homes and a few duplexes from the early 1900's to the 1920's. Of the twenty-two houses on this block face, twenty were built between 1901 and 1924, but few retain their original character-defining features. The area is just to the east of the Normandie Heights Landmark District. The approximately 1,200 square-foot house on a 8,220 square foot lot exhibits typical Colonial Revival Cottage features including a one-story, L-shaped plan; a symmetrical three-bay f a ~ a d ewith a central, front gabled portico-like entry; horizontal wood siding; multi-light wood casement windows; wood trellises; and a clipped gable roof with side vents. In addition to the residence, the property has an original detached two-car garage and workshop in the same style as the house. This garage (along with the workshop) appears to be intact and is, therefore, contributing to the significance of the property. ANALYSIS The property at 745 East Rio Grande Street is eligible for designation under Criterion c, (917.62.040 PMC) which states: (The property) embodies the distinctive characteristics of a historic resource property type, period, architectural style or method of construction, or is an exceptional representation of the work of an architect, designer, engineer, or builder whose work is significant to the city or that possesses high artistic values that are significant to the city. Under this criterion, 745 East Rio Grande Street is significant as an intact example of precut residential architecture. The house has a high level of architectural integrity (its ability to demonstrate why it is significant) through its design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association. The house is in its original location and has undergone few significant alterations since its early history.

Precut houses, also referred to as "ready-cut," "mail-order," or "kit" houses, became popular in the 1910s. Precut houses differ from the pattern-book houses that offered inexpensive plans for bungalows but didn't include the potential purchase of building materials. The material in each kit house was precut and numbered for self-construction. Also included in the bundle were the windows, doors, trim, nails, and paint that completed the kit; precut companies encouraged customization, reversing floor plans, upgrading window styles, switching porches or combining two plans.' The source for the house at 745 E. Rio Grande, the Aladdin Company in Bay City, Michigan (1906-1981), was the first manufacturer in the United States to offer precut houses. The Aladdin catalog grew to a point of offering over 450 different models of homes and was advertised in various magazines and newspapers. The names of the houses appealed to the mass market -there was something for everyone - from the generic Colonial, to those that offered the cachet of Villa, Cadillac, and Yale. Many were named after geographic places: Charleston, Georgia, Kentucky, Erie, Devon, Plymouth, and Michigan. California contributions included: Brentwood, Burbank, Pomona, and Pasadena. Others evoked a feeling of beauty like Venus and New den.^ Although the model of the house at 745 E. Rio Grande doesn't appear in the Aladdin Company catalog until 1918, it seems likely that this design, named the "Pasadena," was in limited release in 1916, when the house was constructed. The "Pasadena" was featured in catalogs in 1918, 1919, 1922, 1923, 1933 and 1935. The Pasadena - the beautiful. A home of sunshine, flowers, trees and foliage. This remarkable home is Aladdin's most notable offering to home builders for 1918. Remarkable in design, remarkable in arrangement, and lastly, remarkable in cost of materials. The design is a wonderful result of the work of a careful architect of bungalow homes. It represents the new thought in bungalow architecture. The departure from the rough and blunt lines to the more beautiful and substantial touches is symbolical of one's desire in a home. California-its sunshine and flowers veiled in a blue sky-is evident in its every line. Setting, as it does, close to the ground, climbing rambles help express the dainty and artistic feeling of this home desigm3 Aladdin manufactured homes until 1981, and had sold more than 50,000 homes during the 77 years they were in business. Along with bigger firms like Sears, Aladdin changed the architectural landscape of twentieth-century American architecture. With their simple styles, they represented the majority of American house built in the first half of the twentieth century and the majority of those lived in throughout the c e n t ~ r y . ~ 1

House in a Box: Prefabricated Housing in the Jackson Purchase Cultural Landscape Region, 1900 - 1960, Cynthia E . Johnson, February 2006 2 Aladdin Sales Catalog, 1918. Ibid. Kit Homes, Fred J. Becker Architecture Newsletter, May 2000.

Other principal precut manufactures include: Sears, Roebuck and Company, Wardway Homes (Montgomery Ward), Gordon-Van Tine, Sterling, and Lewis~ibert~.~ Flauntleroy "Bud" Compton (1889-1980) built the house at 745 Rio Grande using "day work" at a cost of $1,500~.Records indicate he lived in the house for 63 years. Compton was a close associate of Ernest Batchelder and the house has installations of Batchelder tiles in the solarium, the kitchen and on the patio. According to the current owner, the tiled fireplace mantel was given to Compton by Batchelder as a wedding gift.

FISCAL IMPACT Designation of this property does not affect revenues to the City. In some instances, though, owners of designated properties may apply to the City for Historic Property Contract, which allows an alternative and often lower property tax assessment. The City Council reviewed the projected loss of property tax revenue from this program in 2002 when it adopted a local Historic Property Contract (Mills Act) ordinance. Respectfully submitted,

Prepared by:


Approved by:

~ i c h a r Bruckner d ~irectulanni& n ~Development

ATTACHMENT A: Application & Taxpayer Protection Form ATTACHMENT B: Photographs ATTACHMENT C: The Pasadena, from the Aladdin Sales Catalog

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Johnson. City of Pasadena building permit # 741 3.


A RESOLUTION OF THE ClTY COUNCIL OF THE ClTY OF PASADENA ADOPTING A DECLARATION OF LANDMARK DESIGNATION FOR 745 EAST RIO GRANDE STREET, PASADENA, CALIFORNIA WHEREAS, the Historic Preservation Commission has found that 745 East Rio Grande Street meets criterion c, as set forth in Section 17.62.040(A) of the Pasadena Municipal Code; and WHEREAS, the house at 745 East Rio Grande Street is significant because the property is an architecturally intact and an excellent local example ~f a precut ("kit house") bungalow that was eventually marketed nationally as the "Pasadena" model by the Aladdin Company of Michigan; WHEREAS, the application for Landmark designation is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to State CEQA Guidelines Section 15331; WHEREAS, the owner of the property, Joseph Libonati, nominated the property for Landmark designation; and WHEREAS, the City Council may approve a recommendation from the Historic Preservation Commission to designate a Landmark and evidence such approval by adopting a declaration executed by the Mayor pursuant to Subsection 17.62.050 (C) of the Pasadena Municipal Code; NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Pasadena that the attached declaration of Landmark designation for 745 East Rio Grande Street is hereby adopted. Adopted at the meeting of the City Council on the , 2007 by the following vote: AYES: NOES: ABSENT: ABSTAIN: Jane Rodriguez, City Clerk Approved as to form:

Michele Beal Bagneris, City Attorney

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