The Langham Huntington, Pasadena has just unveiled its newly restored and rehabilitated iconic Picture Bridge, a historic landmark feature on the grounds for nearly 90 years!
The centerpiece of the restoration project is the installation of replicas of the Bridge’s original oil paintings by Frank M. Moore, which give name to the landmark. Paintings were added to the Bridge in 1933 that serve as a living storybook for the state of California by illustrating its many jewels. In 2013, after more than 80 years of exposure to the outdoor elements, all of the oil-paintings were carefully removed from the Bridge to halt their deterioration and then stored in a climate controlled art-storage facility where they continue to reside. Facsimiles of the original paintings which date back to 1933, have been developed, installed and once again grace the Picture Bridge. Picture Bridge underwent a multi-million-dollar structural upgrade amid the property’s temporary suspension of operations during the pandemic.
“Restoring the Picture Bridge has been a capital project of utmost importance to us,” said Paul Leclerc, Managing Director of The Langham Huntington, Pasadena. “As the heart of the community, it is our responsibility and our privilege to preserve this historical treasure for generations to come. We are thrilled the restoration of the Picture Bridge is complete and it will create yet another reason for our guests and local patrons to return to The Langham.”
The centerpiece of the restoration project is the installation of replicas of the Bridge’s original oil paintings by Frank M. Moore, which give name to the landmark. In 2013, after more than 80 years of exposure to the outdoor elements, all of the oil-paintings were carefully removed from the Bridge to halt their deterioration and then stored in a climate controlled art-storage facility where they continue to reside. Facsimiles of the original paintings which date back to 1933, have been developed, installed and once again grace the Picture Bridge.
The paintings were originally commissioned by Steven Royce, owner and manager of what was then The Huntington Hotel. Each of the 41 paintings were done by resident landscape artist Frank M. Moore who was paid $10 per painting and all the food he and his wife could consume at the hotel, a handsome compensation during the Great Depression.
The paintings depict 20 California landscapes and treasures such as Cathedral Spires in Yosemite and Midway Point on Carmel’s Seventeen Mile Drive; and man-made icons such as Mt. Wilson’s Observatory and Catalina Island’s Avalon Bay; as well as local Pasadena scenes.
In addition to the mounting of the replicas, a newly installed steel reinforcement system was installed, designed to meet contemporary seismic code, while also retaining the look of the Bridge’s original historic materials and elements. The rehabilitated bridge is a combination of original Douglas fir, new redwood and pressure treated wood, and steel. Much of the Bridge’s original lumber was salvaged and reused, with the maximum amount of historic materials repurposed for use in the rehabilitation effort. “Rehabilitation of the Picture Bridge is an engineering marvel in that the structural intervention is entirely hidden and historic materials were retained in place or salvaged and reused,” said Robert Chattel, AIA, who helped guide the project.
Sue Mossman, Executive Director of Pasadena Heritage, the local historic preservation non-profit, expressed the organization’s appreciation for the collaborative spirit and patience required to find the right solution for the beloved Picture Bridge. “This project was under discussion and debate for some years, and as we all exchanged ideas and concerns, the best solution emerged to save as much original fabric as possible, and construct the needed support system in a sympathetic and unobtrusive way.” The group’s recommendations actually resulted in the Bridge being able to stay open during most of the construction, so circulation around the hotel and grounds was much less disrupted.
The Picture Bridge overlooks the hotel’s swimming pool and The Hideaway pool bar and grill to the north and the Japanese Garden to the south. It connects the hotel’s main building with the tennis courts, Royce Manor and four hotel cottages. At night, the softly lit bridge is a favorite romantic spot for couples, with a view of the sparkling San Gabriel Valley. Today, only an expert would notice the massive rehabilitation effort put forth to refurbish the historical Bridge to its original splendor.
The Langham Huntington Hotel is a 379-room hotel situated on 23 acres of gardens and lawns in the foothills of the of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. For more information or reservations, dial (626) 568-3900 or visit LanghamHotels.com/Pasadena. The hotel is located at 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena, CA 91106.