A Guide to Museums of the Arroyo Day

In the early 1900s, as the Arroyo Seco flowed from Pasadena to the L.A. River, people who lived along its banks took inspiration from the sparkling natural stream that had literally given life to its residents. From renaissance man Charles Lummis in Highland Park to Judson Studios in Garvanza, an abundance of creativity flowed in the area, making it one of the first bohemian neighborhoods in L.A.

This Sunday, May 20 from noon to 5pm, is Museums of the Arroyo Day. Five museums located along the Arroyo Seco will open their doors to the public for free for this 23rd annual tradition, showcasing the arts and culture in this historically rich area.

Before heading out, take the time to learn a bit about its history of the area, and check out the video interviews in the links below:

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The Gamble House
Near the north end of the stream, pioneering Arts & Crafts architects Greene & Greene built what is considered the "ultimate bungalow." Built for the prominent Gamble family (of Procter & Gamble fame) in 1908, this massive craftsman home displays the artistry abundant in the area at the turn of the century, featuring fixtures from Judson Studios and Batchelder tiles.

Lummis Home and Garden
A few miles south in Highland Park, another uniquely iconic house stands along the Arroyo Seco. Built mostly by hand by Charles Lummis, "El Alisal" stands as a testament to the singular vision of the renaissance man of the Arroyo.

Heritage Square Museum
The historic structures here were saved from demolition and painstakingly restored through the efforts of historians and preservationists like Charles Fisher. As you tour the ornate homes and watch woodcarving and blacksmith demonstrations, you'll get a sense of what it was like to live in Los Angeles around the turn of the century.

You can get 'locked up' at Los Angeles Police Museum | Photo by KCET

Los Angeles Police Museum:
The area around the Arroyo Seco was an artistic haven, but that doesn't mean it was idyllic Eden as depicted in paintings. Sycamore Grove Park in particular attracted many derelicts, and it was a problem spot for years due to the abundance of crime. From getting "locked up" in a vintage jail cell or learning the grisly tale of the "Black Dahlia," visiting the police doesn't always have to be serious business.

Pasadena Museum of History
Founded in 1924 at the Feynes Mansion on "Millionaire's Row," this museum preserves the rich history of L.A.'s sophisticated neighbor to the north. Currently on exhibit is "Artistic Eden III" -- a look at the contemporary Plein Air scene, which takes inspiration from Arroyo artists as Franz Bischoff and Hanson Puthuff.

It's a great opportunity to learn how the Arroyo Seco enriched the areas around it, from the development of L.A.'s first suburb, to its rich artistic history. Many of the locations are accessible via public transportation, and there will be limited shuttle service between Pasadena and Highland Park. See their web site for details. For more ideas on activities in the area, be sure to use our Highland Park Field Guides.

The Gamble House
4 Westmoreland Place
Pasadena, CA 91103

Lummis Home and Garden
200 E Avenue 43
Los Angeles, CA 90031

Heritage Square Museum
3800 Homer Street
Los Angeles, CA 90031

Los Angeles Police Museum
6045 York Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90042

Pasadena Museum of History
470 W Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91103

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Top: Gamble House by D1v1d, used under a Creative Commons license.

About the Author

Yosuke Kitazawa is the Site Editor of KCET Departures.


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