Thursday, July 26, 2012


I'm not a photographer.  I usually try to take a bit of time to set shots and on occasion the resulting shot makes me smile.  Not so with this set. 

Seeing Ann Erdman's post  on fb reminded me that there was a chance to go inside the YWCA.  If we arrived in the next 25 minutes.  Being  fans of architect Julia Morgan, Kind James and I lept in the car, we zoomed to the site, and then he dropped me off.

After signing a release, promising not to sue if there were loss or injury to self, in I zipped to join others on a similar mission.  There was good deal of quick chatter going on.  Some of the talk was about what folks had experienced there.  Swimming lessons, lunches, games. There was also a good deal of talk of what it might become now that the city is going to become actively involved with the care and future of the building.

There was a good deal of oohs and ahs about the architecture - Ms. Morgan was comfortable and immensely capable of embracing an expansive vision of the melding of elegant line and tons of concrete expressing that vision.

Over the years it seems this gorgeous work became visually compressed and confused, the message muddled by age and lack of care.  Throughout the building there were hints of those who had walked and lived here.  Home for some, respite for others.  Beautiful throughout.  

 The light from outside demanding to be present; despite the marks left  the elements and humans.

Like an overly painted woman the color distracts but her great bones demanded to be seen.

 The irony of Pink Poster Chick at the the top of the second floor stairs.  

Doors in the gym that used to open up to have indoors and outdoors but a step away.  
The gap of light - speaking of sagging doors and solid building?

Another set of doors with a brilliantly blue clawfoot tub.  Am I the only one who wonders, why?

 Looking another direction in the gym and generations of physical education styles are mirrored much as you might in any other gym.

 Turning the other way and there are carved beams of beauty.

A last room  - a pool now empty, with only a watery scaly footprint left behind.

But what might it have been like to be buoyant in a body of water that reflected the glitter of the finish and glints of sunlight or that gave you as sense of the calm waters of Avalon?


  1. Wonderful, Roberta. While we were there we talked to a woman who had worked there in the rape crisis center thirty years ago. She's now a docent for Pasadena Heritage. She was hosting visitors on the second floor, just down the hall from where her office used to be.

  2. Thanks, Petrea. I think there are a lot of stories that are waiting to be shared. Untold stories by the women who have lived in this area.

  3. If you're not a lady shutterbug, then one thing you and the other blogger YWCA photos are is a much better photographer than me!

  4. Kind words, but I think my photographic skills are a lot like my piano playing skills. "Musical, but technically challenged". I havne't the patience others have. Love your Pasadena Heritage World Headquarters image.

  5. Seems to me that the 70's stepped in and did a little destruction but I am happy to see that the woodwork in the gym has remained unpainted - sagging some maybe. And yes about the claw tooth bath tub. Looks like the one I restored when Vic and I lived in East LA

  6. I wish i could have put the claw-foot in my pocket and walked out with it. The tub we had when I was growing up was a claw-foot. The fact the tub was brilliant blue would have been reason enough.

  7. The Light Bringer Project had its early office on the third floor. I remember hanging out there a few times.

    What do you mean you're not a photographer? These photos prove otherwise.

  8. I bet you had a great time hanging out there. It would be really great to have an oral history of the building. The images I've seen of the Y sure vary. Thanks for the compliment. It's about trying to tell the story, isn't it?