Monday, May 7, 2012

The Castle Next Door

South Pasadena's historical Raymond Hotel is only a memory, but Pasadena's Castle Green reminds us of our region's whimsical and opulent past. Built in 1898 as annex to the world famous Hotel Green, the Castle Green is a 7-story Moorish delight.
At the turn of the last century, San Gabriel Valley residents and tourists could ride bikes on the Great California Cycleway -- Horace Dobbins' elevated wooden bike path leading from Hotel Green to just past South Pasadena's Raymond Hotel. Original plans called for the bike path to meander along the Arroyo, tunneling through the hills of Elysian Park all the way to Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles. There were even plans for a Swiss dairy in Highland Park, and a grand casino called Merlemount to be built in South Pasadena's Lower Arroyo Park. (Learn more about the cycleway here and here with history of the freeway that eclipsed bike paths in my previous post here.) Although the cycleway was never completed (and South Pas never became a gambling mecca) the elevated bike path from Pasadena to South Pas was the place to see and be seen.
Only a a few remains of the cycleway can be found in South Pas -- a dirt path near the railroad tracks under the Oaklawn bridge and a canopied stretch adjacent to the freeway near Arroyo. The only traces left of the Raymond Hotel are remnants of the original river rock garden walls, the caretaker cottage (now the Raymond Restaurant) and a few of Walter Raymond's palm trees.
But the Castle Green still stands. It's a beautiful reminder of our region's history.


Stefan Jansson said...

Those were the days.

Judy Williams said...

Do people live there? Is it a commercial building? I love it's Moorish charm!!

Anonymous said...

I never knew about the cycle way. Thank you for another great glimpse into South Pasadena's past history.

Sally said...

Judy, yes there are apartments there. They do a home tour. The lobby is used for filming and weddings. It's beautiful.

I never knew about the bike way either!

Wayne said...

It made quite an impact on me the first time I stumbled upon it.

TheChieftess said...

I love the Castle Green!!! We went there with my step daughter to check it out for her first wedding but she opted for a different venue...I wanted to go back in time and have our wedding there!!! I envisioned a fabulous wedding there!!! But then, our backyard was pretty awesome for our wedding and the step daughter's second turned out to be the perfect venue for both!!!

Wish the bike path was still there...sounds like an idea that should be revisited!!!

Arguing Guy said...

If anyone is thinking of getting married there..

Don't, don't, DON'T forget to take pictures in the elevator..

Make a NOTE.. And tell your wedding photographer. Make SURE you get a photographer who has shot a castle green reception. He or she will surely remember!


You'll regret it the rest of your life if you forget.

beckynot said...

I was married there and I live there. It's very pretty for both, but please don't take too long taking your picture in the elevator. There are residents waiting on it! : )

I love the bicycle part of your history and that Pasadena was a proposed gambling mecca. Both are excellent new facts to me.

I've started a series of short stories about Castle Green. If anyone knows any true or long rumored details of life or events there, I'd love to interview you and include them.


TheChieftess said...

@ fun!!! Wish I knew some stories to tell! Good luck on your project!

beckynot said...


Thanks! You have the rest of your life to have an odd encounter with the castle. And I expect to hear about it when you do. :)

Laurie Allee said...

Rebecca, welcome!!!

I am really looking forward to reading your completed project, and exploring your blog!