Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Baranger Studios

This is one of my favorite buildings in South Pas. Built in 1925, it was the home of Baranger Studios -- makers of delightful electric motion displays for jewelry stores. What were electric motion displays? Imagine a blend of dollhouse, small gauge train set and highly detailed music box complete with a dancing ballerina. Throw in some clever generic jewelry marketing slogans prominently featured in the design and you get the idea. These animated wonders were produced from 1925 to 1959, but they were never sold. Instead, jewelers all over the country leased them on a monthly basis. The studios designed 169 different models, often in the art deco style, and produced only 30 of each type. Each motion display had a different theme – from fairy tale to western motif, from zooming rocket ships to dancing honeymooners. Jewelers would rent one display for a month, and then rotate it out for another model.

Those were the days… instead of just looking through a sterile glass case at a few baubles on black velvet you would have been treated to something whimsical like this.

From engineering to shipping, all means of motion display creation and distribution were housed under this one small roof. The company stopped production in the late 1950s, but continued to rent existing motion displays to jewelers until 1977 when they went out of business. Today, the building is home to Stanislawski and Company, Certified Public Accountants.

(And to stay in the tradition of yesterday's post... check out the topiary!)

26 comments:

Sally said...

Bloody accountants....uo until a week ago they ruled the world. But maybe we might need to go back to the days of artisanship to survive?
Sydney Daily Photo

Sally said...

Oh, and about wattle. Funny, you're quite right...I can remember being amazed that the freeways in LA are lined with callistemons (bottle brushes) another Aussie transplant, and of course eucalypts are everywhere. In Santa Barbara I think it is I've seen an amazing Moreton Bay fig. But, nup, I can't recall seeing wattle in California.

Oh, and they have no scent.

Sally said...

My friend in West LA even has a Geraldton Wax ( avery pretty West Australian native) in her front yard.

Olivier said...

ce qui est vraiment surprenant, c'est comment l'arbre est taillé !!

Knoxville Girl said...

I'm glad they preserved the building. It's a beauty.
I hope these mecahnical wonders are preserved in a museum somewhere too. That YouTube clip was fascinating.
Oh yes, and the teeny-tiny topiary made me giggle.

AVT Coach said...

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Judy said...

How cute was that video? I've never heard of such a thing. I always like your perspective with the building looming over the viewer. :~)

Kelly said...

Excellent history of the building and the former occupant, Laurie! The building is really something to look at!

Have missed your blog the past few days! Been catching up today! I seem to be doing a lot of that lately...

Virginia said...

That was fascinating. Something this old timer had never seen! I spotted that topiary right off the bat. Maybe it IS the close proximity to Disneyland that has influenced your landscape decor in SouthPas!

Wayne said...

Did I hear someone mention model trains?

Another fine post Laurie. This is the sort of building that gives gives Pasadena so much character.

JAMJARSUPERSTAR said...

Well the whole idea of what they used to make in there is kind of magical - so is the building! A lot better than those scooters... LOL!
Ciao

http://jamjarsuperstar.blogspot.com
http://scarletsculturegarden.blogspot.com

ben wideman said...

very cool story!

Halcyon said...

Neat! Sort of like the displays you see in big department stores during the holidays. Ahhh... ye olde days.

Tanya said...

That is so cool! And really awesome building to boot!

pasadenaadjacent.com said...

Hats off to you Laurie, that was a really good post. Have you considered transferring the video directly into your post? I liked this you tube

Sharon said...

I don't think I've ever seen one of these displays, at least I don't remember it. I looked at a couple of the videos on the UTube site. What an interesting company.

Hope said...

Laurie, you visited my blog today and lifted my spirits. What kind comments you left for me.

I want you to know that I have visited your blogs lots and have truly enjoy your photos and writings.

I left a comment in response to your comment on my blog, but I wasn't sure if you would see it ....so I'm going to leave that comment here too....

"Thanks everyone for your comments and encouragement. As I stated in my "About Me" at the top of my blog, I am not a pro photographer.

I am a wife and mom who has always had a love for photography and that loves shines through especially when photographing my beloved children. Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm glad you are enjoying my photos."

I hope this post makes sense.

altadenahiker said...

I've always been curious about this building (and I'm obviously not alone in this). Thanks for the research!

Petrea said...

This is one of my favorite buildings in South Pas. I don't post about South Pas anymore because you cover the territory so well! But I posted about Baranger Studios back on February 21; I think it looks like a building you'd find in an English village. It's very charming and I like your shot of it.

Mister Earl said...

One of my favorite buildings also. Thanks for showing us what they made at Baranger. I thought it was a film studio or something like that. What a booming artistic community this area was in the years after 1900. There's the Judson Studio in Highland Park, which made stained glass. And Clyde Browne's Abbey San Encino, near Figueroa and York, which was a printing studio, still owned by Jackson Browne's family. And Norman Rockwell spent a lot of time in Alhambra from 1929 on, and painted some of his most famous works here.

ROCKY HORROR UPDATE: The marquee on the Rialto has been updated to show that Rocky Horror will screen on Saturday, November 1. I presume at mid-night.

Petrea said...

Cool info Mister Earl, thank you. I must tell pasadenaadjacent about Rocky Horror.

From de Cafe said...

I've actually been inside this bldg. It's even nicer inside, although somewhat dark with all the wood.
I helped find a job 4 a sopas cpa friend here back in the last century. They were interested in me too, but it wasn't mutual.

This bldg is on the other side of the tracks of South Pas. Somewhat lifeless on the edge of town compared to the rest of SP. But, you can walk to Heirloom & Busters in 2min.

L, you need to go inside 2 take a few shots.

Tash said...

L, on you Q to Sally - So Coast Botanic Gardens has mimosas that bloom --- in the spring. Probably have some at Huntington or Arboretum in Arcadia.

Laurie said...

Hi all,

AVT and Tanya, welcome!

Mister Earl, thank you for even more wonderful info about the area. I did not realize Rockwell spent time in Alhambra -- but many of the little houses there remind me of Rockwell paintings so I'm not surprised. The entire San Gabriel Valley is so rich with art and history.

Tash, I'll have to look for mimosa/wattle next time I visit one of the local gardens. (Sorry everyone, Sally posted a gorgeous picture from Sydney today of a plant I'd never seen.)

From de cafe, "other side of the tracks" regarding South Pas just cracks me up. :-)

Petrea, I remember your post. I was just reading your blog then, and hadn't started this one. I remember being so excited that you took a picture near where I lived!

Hope, thank you so much. And let me tell everyone to check out Hope's blog -- her photos are some of the most warm and life-affirming shots you'll ever hope to see.

PA, I liked that video too!

Thanks, everyone!

Hilda said...

It is a beautiful building, and yes, I noticed the topiary immediately! LOL

I followed the link and watched the video — it's amazing! Would you know where they are now? Sold to some collector or do some lucky jewelry shops have them to display with?

Laurie said...

Hi HIlda,

From what I can tell, these motions are hot collector's items. If you find one at an auction, it goes for thousands of dollars. I read that not all of the motions survived, so they're really rare. I would love to know where they could be found!