Castle Green tour

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Castle Green tour

Castle Green is a large multi-residence building in Pasadena; we’ve been past it often and admire it’s Moorish architectural influences. Today, we got to attend the tour – they open the building two times a year for people to walk through, arranging to have some of the condos and apartments open to view, and people dress up in period costumes.  I took many pictures, the gallery is at the end. Entrance costs $20 a person.

And best of all, we met and talked for a while with, Suzi Gardner from L7; I have at least three of their CDs, what a blast! She rents a place in the building with her boyfriend.

Here is the brochure provided:

Hotel Green and Castle Green Apartments
Originally the Hotel Green was a small hotel built by Edward C. Webster in 1887 on the southeast corner of Raymond and Green (then Kansas) Street. Webster also donated the land and built a passenger terminal just south of his hotel for the Santa Fe Railroad, which provided transcontinental rail service from Chicago to Los Angeles through Pasadena with the mainline located immediately east of the hotel. Webster overextended himself financially and G. G. Green acquired the hotel when he foreclosed on a sizable loan made to Webster.

Under the ownership of Colonel Green; the hotel enjoyed phenomenal success. After expansion to the extent possible on the property at the east side of Raymond, a major annex was begun on the west side of Raymond. This building, now the Castle Green, was completed in November of 1898 and formally opened on January 16, 1899. The last annex was erected in 1903 along the south side of Green Street between Raymond and Fair Oaks Avenues.

Both annexes were designed by Frederick L. Roehrig. The 1898 building was an eclectic combination of Moorish and Mission Revival architecture, seven stories high, built of steel, brick and concrete, and was then the only fireproof hotel in California, a very substantial claim for that era. This was especially important because of the fire that had destroyed the local Royal Raymond Hotel in 1895. The annex was the first steel frame building in Pasadena, and only the second in the southwestern United States.

The Castle Green is a six-story, flat-roofed building with various architectural features that rise to a seventh story and create a varied picturesque roofline.The structure is finished on the exterior with a rough dashcoat finish of a dull ochre color. Above the sixth story perimeter of the building is a mansard roof of red, Mission style semi-cylindrical pressed tin “tile.” The eaves appear to be supported by decorative sheet metal “rafters,” and the underside of the eaves is plastered.

The large scale of the building is relieved by a great variety of architectural treatments in its massing, fenestration and exterior ornamentation. The central section of the main facade rises to a seventh story penthouse that originally served as a sun parlor with a ceiling largely occupied by glass skylights. To the north and south were outdoor roof gardens with planters and furniture for sitting. The loggia of this top story is flanked by two square towers with flat roofs, from which domes rise. These domes on plain drums are roofed with metal sheets in the manner of Islamic domes. The eaves of the flat roofs appear to be supported by decorative sheet metal “rafters,” surmounted by a sheet-metal fascia, ornamented by simple, square openings. The open gallery of the loggia is carried slightly forward by a cantilevered, concrete balcony of simple design, which is repeated in the two flanking towers. Access to the main tower balconies is provided by means of three arched windows divided by slender columns, which echo the design of the loggia. Above the towers’ windows is an elaborate plaster ornamentation executed in a diaper pattern. Within the diamond shapes created by the diagonals is a fleur-de-lis type design. The fifth and sixth stories of the central section of the main facade are also tripartite in design. Below the loggia, the sixth floor’s elevation is composed of three bays, each divided into three windows with plaster ornamentation between.

The fifth floor exhibits three loggias, each tripartite, with slender columns that exhibit capitals in floral patterns. These arches, like those of the seventh story towers, are Moorish in design, in that the spring line of the horseshoe arch occurs considerably above the capital. Much of the Islamic character that the architect intended for his design is derived from this simple, stylistic device. Further linking the design of the fifth and sixth stories are the richly ornamented spandrels between the two story windows.

Between the fourth and fifth stories, a cornice-like belt course occurs and extends around the entire building. Deep, stepped corbels are surmounted by delicate iron fences. This belt course demarcates two zones of the exterior: below this line, fenestration consists of simple. rectangular openings and no ornamentation occurs. There are several window openings with decorative iron balconies, the style varied at different floors.
A veranda, which was considered a necessary feature of a nineteenth century century hotel, was built at the first floor level along the main facade, Its shed roof was covered in Mission-style red tile. Contrasting strongly with the described slender columns that divide the window arches, the Doric columns of the veranda are of heavy proportion with pronounced entasis.

With the addition of the annex the Hotel Green had IIO rooms in the annex and 250 rooms in the original hotel. With the last annex the hotel boasted 550 sleeping rooms and 375 baths.

The Bridge
An enclosed pedestrian bridge once spanned Raymond Avenue connecting the two wings of Hotel Green. Originally it was almost 200 feet in length and 14 feet wide. It served as both an important social promenade and a lounge for the patrons. Only two spans still remain, and the truncated bridge now terminates with what formerly served as the central observation pavilion. The elevated bridge allowed guests to cross between the two buildings at the second story level. The structure now serves as a pleasant arcade sheltering pedestrians from the public sidewalk to the veranda of the Castle Green.

The South Facade
Two seven story towers, circular in plan, are attached to the two corners at the south end of the building. The close placement of these towers, which are separated by a single bay, recalls to mind the towers of numerous medieval castles and fortifications of Europe. This factor is probably responsible for the popular name “Castle Green” by which the building is now known. Above the main six-story block of the building, the towers are capped with gently sloping conical red metal roofs. The roofs are carried on a series of columns with “Moorish” capitals that exhibit leaf-pattern ornament. The open galleries disguise the presence of the original seventh story water storage tanks. Below the galleries are wide friezes and staff ornament as described above. At ground level, a glass enclosed sunroom projects from the south facade, originally, this room was an open veranda. The flat roof deck is surrounded by a low balustrade pierced by openings of an Islamic pattern. This was an ideal place for hotel guests to view the beginning of the early Tournament of Roses Parades.

The Main Entrance Hall
The floor is of mosaic tile and the grand staircase has wide flights of carrara marble steps with an intricately detailed cast-iron balustrade and newel posts. The wainscotting is simulated onyx. Throughout the building slate has been marbleized to achieve the wax-like luster of the stone onyx. The transoms over the wide entranceway to the south parlor and to the side alcove are delicate wrought-iron screens that echo important decorative elements of the lobby, such as the elevator.

Elevator
Just north of the entrance is the original open cage elevator. This ornate metal lift, with its distinctive grilles and screens, communicates with all seven stories and terminates at the penthouse, which was formerly the roof sun parlor.

The Main Parlor
The most distinctive feature is its coffered ceiling, with beams that have been decorated with a colorful poly-chromed low-relief ornament. The Main Parlor extends into the space of the southeast tower, and the unusual plan of the room is reflected in the semi-circular line of the coffered ceiling. An immense fireplace in the character of a baronial hall occupies the west wall of the room. The mantle shelf has been placed at an exaggerated height. Above it a mirror has been set within an overmantel of wood panels. Double doors to the south of the fireplace lead to the now enclosed sun room.

Sun Room
The ceiling lights are the only original surviving fixture of this type in the building and were the models for the accurate reproductions on the front veranda. The low bulkhead wrapping the walls has been stripped of paint, returning it to the natural finish seen on the front veranda of the building.

The Ladies Rooms, later renamed the Moorish Room and the Card Room
The focal point of the Moorish Room is the fireplace wall, set at a diagonal between the entranceways to the Main Parlor and to the Card Room. A colorful, mosaic tile fireplace surround is composed of chevron patterns, bordered by a contrasting guilloche pattern. Gilded elements highlight the design. A metal mantle shelf is high on the wall, in simulated suspension from chains above. The window treatments are unusual and evocative of Islamic architecture. The Card Room repeats many of the themes presented in the Moorish room. Of special note are the fire place and arch forms of the window screens.

Individual Apartments
The original concrete floors are often exposed now and covered with rugs as seen in apartment 401. Originally there was wall to wall carpet on the floors of the guest rooms, with runners used in the hallways. The first floor was exposed concrete with area rugs, typically orientals, in various locations. The fireplace hearths and surrounds are glazed I by 6 inch tiles with the color and mantle style differing from apartment to apartment.

Here are the pictures:

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