Thursday, September 4, 2008

South Pasadena High School

Forgive me, but my inner sci-fi geek just can’t resist: this looks for all the world like it should be part of the Superfriends Hall of Justice. No, that’s not quite right. It might be an intergalactic embassy for planet Krypton! Or maybe, when ET phoned home, this is where the call came in…

Actually, it’s one side of South Pasadena High School – an art deco treasure and undoubtedly the coolest school in Southern California. I didn’t know they had schools like this anymore. (My old alma mater in Austin, Texas looks like a minimum security prison. Seriously.) This is more like something from a Bauhaus drawing board or a 1930s film with Greta Garbo. And after dark, the glass-brick cylindrical sections look like they might just be warming up to transport the entire structure to another dimension.

At the very least, it harkens back to another, highly stylized era -- which is probably why our home of the fighting Tigers has been the location for so many movies. Halloween, Back to the Future, Mr. Deeds, Old School, American Pie and Legally Blonde are just a few of the films that have included scenes here.

In 2006, SPHS celebrated it's 100th anniversary at this spot -- though this building has only hosted about half those years. Famous alumni include William Holden (class of '36) and Bronson Pinchot (class of '77.) If you drive behind the school, past the football field, you’ll see the school’s motto inscribed on one of the buildings: Scholarship, Leadership, Strength, and Fair Play. Inspired words. Inspiring architecture.

27 comments:

Per Stromsjo said...

Just goes to show, the night time is the right time.

Life Observer said...

SP received some remodeling a couple of years ago.

Schools are getting fenced up & as u said becoming min security institutions. The purpose is to keep the prisoners inside and the criminals out.

Saretta said...

That's a school? Wow! I'll have to do a post on a high school here in Molfetta just for contrast! LOL!

JAMJARSUPERSTAR said...

Hmm, isn't it weird? Wouldn't it make more sense to celerate 100 years at a building that was around that age?

But the building looks sooo pretty - we need some architecture like this, or we'll die of boredom in the UK!

And embrace your inner geek! I had a proper Star Wars marathon this week and don't feel one bit guilty...
Ciao, love the blog!

Scarlet

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

Keith said...

The light and glass looks great! Nice to see a high school care about the nighttime visual appeal also.

Webradio said...

Hello !

"Grande Ecole" ?

Photo étrange la nuit...

Louis la Vache said...

It makes "Louis" happy to see an art deco gem like this has been preserved. As time goes on, the genius of the art deco style becomes more apparent. It certainly has a grace and beauty sadly lacking in what passes for archtecture these days.

Eki Akhwan said...

Hi Laurie,
I can't help smiling reading your commentary for this post. :)

That luminuous glass tower certainly looks sci-fi!

Btw, I also like the previous post. The black and white looks appropriate for that classic look building. And, it's a post office.

Virginia said...

The question is , would they let ET phone home from the office telephone??

Hilda said...

Whoa! That's a high school? Cool! The sci-fi geek in me loves it too. ;D

Dusty Lens said...

Inspiring architecture. The glass round tower is superb lit from within. The H.S. I graduated from was similar to an office building. It was depressing, especially since we now work in office buildings.

Jutilda said...

Oh my god that is so fantastic. The complementary blue and yellow and the modern shapes really make for a fabulous architectural shot. I love the perspective from down looking up. YAY - ok now I'll go read the comments. :~)

Sharon said...

What a fantastic building. As you probably know by now, I love art deco. It would have been fund to attend classes here. Well, as fun as it can be for a teenager in school. I just loved your commentary on this place. It was very entertaining and put a smile on my face.

Yak Pate said...

Where better to place a beacon of light than in the halls of education?

And yes, whenever I say, "Beam Me Up, Scotty," this is where I imagine that magic would happen.

Wayne said...

Another inspired shot Laurie.

Most high schools here could pass for prisons without the barbed wire.

That's not to say prisons and high schools are not interesting buildings to look at. I'd rather not enter either one.

Trish said...

this art deco structure was NOT a part of the original school. it was build...good gawd...can't remember exactly when in the last 20 years. The construction was NOT without the usual small town politic problems. SoPas has never been known for being hugely forward thinking and something this "modern" was not appreciated by many.

And, there are parts of the school, or at least were the last time I was on campus a few years ago, that will remind you of a prison. But one of the things about SoPas is the good education your children can get.

Though, as I recall, the best part of SPHS was close proximity to HiLife burgers! ;-)

pasadenaadjacent.com said...

William Holden worked for the Star News in Pasadena. He would come in and visit his old boss who happened to be my mother's boss at that time. He advised my mother to "never to date boys from Glendale".

Kelly said...

Amazing building!

I hope the instruction that takes place inside is as inspiring!

USelaine said...

The world needs more glass brick, and cylinders, and glass brick cylinders. Gorgeous shot.

Knoxville Girl said...

Laurie, I can imagine the warp drive glowing behind that glass. Most excellent photo.

Life Observer said...

Yes, for Hi-Life Burgers where you go for the Tacos!!
Glad South Pasa hasn't been too 4ward thinking. A place where time has tried to stand still & why, even from Pasadena, we accept it. No need for any Old Town Pas there.

altadenahiker said...

Oh god, what an eye you have. Of course, I too have my own vision -- did I show you the picture of my dog in a tea hat? You missed that? Well, maybe some other time.

Laurie said...

Thank you, everyone!

Virginia -- you get a gold star for that smart aleck and oh-so-clever remark. :-)

Welcome Scarlet! Did you say Star Trek Marathon???!!!

Trish, I was told that this building was actually built after the original was razed for earthquake safety reasons in the 50s -- but I certainly trust YOU over someone I talked to in the school office. Was the art deco facade a completely new addition? If so, wow they did a great job making it look authentic. I love it.

I'm looking forward to Jane Apostol's second edition of South Pasadena: a centennial history. It is coming out in November, I believe.

Yak Pate, I said "well, beam me up, Scotty" the first time I saw this high school lit up like this at night.

PasadenaAdjacent -- that is the coolest story. My mother is going to swoon that your mother actually met Bill Holden...

Mike -- would you believe I still haven't been to Hi Life Burgers? (ducks and hides now...)

Altadena -- promises, promises...

I appreciate all the input, my friends. Thank you for making this a truly collaborative blog!

Tash said...

I like the glowing tower - at least from the distance of the photo. I went to Franklin High in Highland Park(or Pasadena Adjacent :) and cruised So Pas & Pasadena lots & have no idea if I ever went on SoPasHS campus. Go figure. My favorite LA HS (at least of the ones I did visit) is Marshall in Los Felis area http://www.johnmarshallhs.org/ - "Room 222" used it for some filming. (Does anyone remember that show? Mr. Dixon...the red-headed kid with an afro...Karen Valentine. I haven't been down this memory lane in a while!)
Thanks for a great post.

Tash said...

P.S. Marshall was preserved and re-enforced after the new earthquake code in the 70's came out. My Jr. High did not get that consideration - now that was a beautiful brick building - I'm looking for color photos of it. The building that replaced it is pretty sad.

Laurie said...

Hi Tash! Thanks for dropping by.

Yes, I remember Room 2222. I loved Karen Valentine! Thanks for the link. I love finding out about other Southern California treasures.

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