Not that the construction of Pasadena Central Library at 285 E. Walnut Street is a mistake. On the contrary: built by regional architect Myron Hunt (1868-1952) in 1927, the main library of Pasadena is an example of the City of Pasadena’s rich architectural heritage.
Myron Hunt was not only a member of the Steinway Hall group of Chicago which later on became known as the Prairie School and so much worshiped by Frank Lloyd Wright, Hunt spent over two years in Europe (1893-1896) with his wife Harriette studying the Architecture of the Renaissance. He also participated in the formation of the Arts and Crafts Society which had so much influence on the architecture of the time. The detailed wooden carvings of the interior shelves and panels in the Pasadena Library are a beautiful example of this love of craftsmanship.
The exterior language of the facade – equally detailed moldings of classicist motives – speak of the many buildings Hunt must have seen during his visit in Italy.
Let’s resume: building Pasadena Central Library was most definitely not a mistake. But it contains one: the decoration plate above the third Corinthian Pilaster (or above the first single Pilaster) on the front facade, is upside down. In the photo, the left most plate is upside down, and when you visit the library you will see the other three right side up.
And this is a great mystery to everyone who knows, for it is unclear whether the mistake was made on purpose or not – and it is even less clear, by whom. It is barely imaginable that someone as well trained as Myron Hunt – Hunt obtained his formal education as an architect at MIT in Boston from 1890 – 1893 and he later on worked for the architectural firm Sheply, Rutman and Coolidge in Chicago from 1896 -1903 – would design just one plate upside down, while getting the other three right. Was Hunt trying to test the observer and see, if anyone would ever notice? Was it some kind of silly joke?
Or was it an intern who had worked too many hours and had seen the blueprint from too many angles and drew one plate while standing at one end of the table, while drawing the other three from the other side and Hunt was too busy to notice?
Or was it a naughty construction worker who was tired of carving the molding and decided that it was more entertaining to carve one upside down?
We will never know. Myron Hunt was not a man of many words. While he left behind an impressive body of historically relevant works in the City of Pasadena and the surrounding areas (for more public works by Myron Hunt see old pictures of the Rose Bowl, Occidental College, Huntington Memorial Hospital to name just a few), Myron Hunt unfortunately left behind no written materials.
So if we want to know who was the culprit of the mistake on the front facade of the Pasadena Central Library, we can only guess. Myron Hunt has long passed into history.
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We agree with some but not all of this top ten list. Perhaps we will do our own Top Ten in another post. These restaurants are another reason why Pasadena is a great place to be.
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