Best of Pasadena: Annaly Bennett

Pasadena art and architecture are in Annaly Bennett’s blood.

Pasadena art and architecture are in Annaly Bennett’s blood. Her grandfather, Cyril Bennett, designed a number of buildings around town, including the Pasadena Playhouse, Raymond Theatre, and Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Her father became an architect as well, and Bennett herself is a residential interior designer. Outside her design practice, Bennett serves on the board of Pasadena Heritage, which preserves historic properties, and as acting president of Pasadena Art Alliance, which raises money to support visual contemporary arts organizations in Pasadena and greater Southern California.

Old Pasadena is a favorite place to spend time. Pasadena Heritage was instrumental in preserving the buildings along Colorado Blvd, which were threatened to be demolished in the ’80s. We’re so lucky that we have this vibrant, historic commercial center.

The Pasadena Civic Auditorium is my grandfather’s most prominent building. His architectural firm, Bennett and Haskell, won a design competition for that building in 1929, which was the final component of the city’s beaux arts urban plan, along with the spectacular Main Library building and City Hall.

I love the old Bullock’s building on Lake, which is now Macy’s. It still has a lot of its original character. There are some beautiful old tapestries, woodwork, and cabinetry in the building that give it a very grand feel. It’s nice to see these interior details and spaces be preserved for the future.

Pasadena is also incredibly fortunate to have a parkland, the Arroyo Seco, on its western edge—a physical link to downtown Los Angeles and the place where the Tongva people settled in this area.

A hidden gem at The Huntington Library is the cactus garden. Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved coming here and looking at all the different shapes and forms. It’s thrilling. Every time of year, there’s always something different to see. The specimens are huge and dwarf the human form. It’s like walking under the sea; you feel like you’re in an exotic landscape.

My favorite Pasadena design source is Maude Woods on Holly Street. The store has an eclectic array of furnishings, from very traditional to very contemporary. The owner has an incredible eye. Maude Woods is elegant, fun, and interesting, and a great place to find something special, whatever your taste is.