I’m gonna take a little time here to write a little about something I know a little bit about: the historic home which houses the world headquarters of Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses. Otherwise know as the Wrigley House/Mansion aka Tournament House, or just 391 S. Orange Grove Boulevard.
While it’s been my intention to talk about this kind of thing for the last couple of years, life, and my laziness, get in the way. Nevertheless, its turned into the near-perfect time for celebrating the 100th anniversary of the completion of the house from 1914! Although it may be unwise on my part, there are a couple of additional reasons I’m taking the time for this – which I will reveal later in this series – so stay tuned!
For good reasons I’m limiting this to an overview, although I will be continuously fighting the temptation to fall into detail, i.e., long-windedness. Luckily, I know a few people who should know more than a little about the topic! So, lemme take this one small step for a start into a giant leap of a subject.
Following Pasadena’s birth (founding 1874/incorporation 1886), wealthy individuals were increasingly among its vacationing tourists in its early decades. They fell in love with southern California’s warm humane weather (particularly during winter) and related so-called “health benefits”, wide open undeveloped lands of opportunities, and natural beauty. This new migration from east to west was helped along chiefly due to advances in transportation: the opening of new/transcontinental railroad lines from the east into Pasadena/Los Angeles in the late 1880s followed by the automobile.
To accommodate this first wave of mid-western and far-eastern Americans, resort hotels were built including the Raymond, Painter, Whittier, Green & Maryland. As the migration grew and matured, more of these wealthy winter hibernators traded in their hotel rooms for building mansions – vacation homes – in Pasadena. Some made the city their retirement or primary home. “Millionaires Row” along south Orange Grove boulevard in the early 1900s was a major outcome.
Wrigley House is one of the very few houses which still stand from the “Millionaires Row’ of mansions. In fact, another house from this era was demolished just last week, on Green street near Orange Grove, on the old Ambassador College campus.
Today we call the mansion Tournament House, Wrigley Mansion, and/or Wrigley House. But I would add, “Stimson House”, as its first name to its heritage. (I’ll refer to the mansion simply as it’s now used – Tournament House – from here forward) It was originally designed by & for the Stimson family. George W. Stimson and G. Lawrence Stimson were father & son, builder & architect.
What was on this site before the Tournament House I don’t have the time to know exactly. History usually gets cloudier as we go back in time, but I do know it sits within the Banbury tract. Colonel Jabez Banbury lived his first 10 years in his England birthplace.
Once in the USA he would spend most of the next part of his life in the midwest, but due to failing health he came seeking (you guessed it) the “healthful” climate of southern California! Banbury joined the Indiana Colonists (founders of Pasadena) when he happened upon them here in 1873. In January 1874 the colonists chose & purchased their land tracts. The Banbury’s chose 60 acres: a section of south Orange Grove extending west to the Arroyo and east to Fair Oaks, and containing 391 S. Orange Grove Blvd.
In a few years Banbury would sell part of his tract to a “I.M. Hill”, who sold it to someone whose name I’ve forgotten! But, this “unknown owner” next flipped it to the Stimson’s. The Stimson’s began planning for Tournament House in 1906 but didn’t complete it until 1914. Eight years?? Yes. During this period the devastating San Francisco earthquake punished that city. The result was a shortage of building materials and construction workers beyond the SF area.
When completion finally arrived, the Stimson’s found their children had mostly grown up and left. Empty nesters now and no longer needing a 21 room, 3 story, 18,500 square foot mansion.
One of the Stimson’s, I’m unclear which, had heard Mr. Chewing Gum – William Wrigley Jr., of Chicago – had bought Catalina Island and was planning to make Pasadena his residence for part of the year. Well, in no time Stimson had met & struck a deal with Wrigley: selling their new mansion to him for $170,000 in 1914.
Tournament House would become one of Wrigley’s many houses. And the Stimson’s would move to a similar, but smaller, home in San Marino.
The Wrigley’s lived in the house typically part of the year, during winter, and for watching the Tournament of Roses. After Mr. Wrigley died in 1932 his wife, Ada, spent more time living at Tournament House. In 1947, Ada suffered a stroke and became comatose. Her care and remaining years were spent here – upstairs in her beloved Pasadena home – with her nurse/caregivers living nearby in the next room.
Upon the death of Mrs. Wrigley in 1958, because of her love of the Rose Parade, her home was donated to the city of Pasadena with the provision it be used for the permanent headquarters of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses (PTR). Pasadena acquired legal ownership the following year and its been leased to the PTR ever since.
That was my brief welcome to the home. Next, we’ll take a small light for a closer look…
Gotta Get Some Light Bulbs. Stay Thirsty My Friends