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McCornack General Hospital
(Pasadena Area Station Hospital)

The old Vista del Arroyo Hotel/U.S. Court of Appeals has long been a visually prominent landmark in Pasadena and, together with its site and complex of adjacent buildings, represents in its history a major episode in Pasadena's development as a resort community.

Positioned at the edge of a residential neighborhood and at the crest of a steeply sloped site overlooking the Arroyo Seco, the six-story main building with its older, two-story wing, towers over its setting and dominates the view from across the arroyo. Especially impressive is the view of the building's angled wings, central tower and overall Spanish colonial stylistic details from the Colorado Street Bridge.

Pasadena's cultural and social history is interlocked with the railroad lines running through town, and the ensuing boosterism of Pasadena as a beautiful and healthful resort. Winter weary Easterners came to enjoy the sun, fresh fruits and bungalow lifestyle offered by the hotels. Generally, these guests were wealthy, and many decided to remain and reside permanently in Pasadena.

Before the turn of the century, during what was the great age of Pasadena resort hotels, a high class boarding house called La Vista del Arroyo, or the "Arroyo Vista", was located at this site. Operated by Emma C. Bangs, this early hotel consisted of a two-story wood-frame building and several small cottages. The last of this hotel complex was demolished in 1920, when the earliest portion of the present structure was constructed. The hotel Vista del Arroyo's most important growth periods coincided with ownership and management changes at the hotel in 1919, 1926 and 1936, and in fact came only after the great resort age in Pasadena was on the wane. The Vista, the Huntington and the Green hotels appear to have been the only successful attempts at prolonging the hotel lifestyles of 19th century Pasadena through both a world war and a depression. The Vista del Arroyo played a particularly prominent role in the 1930's social life of Pasadena, as it was the newest and grandest of Pasadena's resorts.

In 1919, Daniel M. Linnard bought the original Vista and, in 1920, commissioned the architects Marston & Van Pelt to expand the 19th century hotel with the addition of a larger, Spanish colonial revival style hotel building. In 1926, Linnard sold the property to H.O. Comstock, who again added to the hotel in 1930. Comstock's architect, George H. Wiemeyer, designed a six-story, reinforced concrete hotel building that required the demolition of what remained of the original turn-of-the-century building, along with a portion of the 1920 building south of the main entrance, including the central campanile. Towards the end of its era as a resort hotel, Linnard repurchased the Vista, and undertook additional improvements to the facility.

In 1943, the War Department acquired the hotel complex, converting its use to a hospital and offices for the U.S. Army. Originally known as the Pasadena Area Station Hospital, it was later renamed as McCornack General Hospital. In 1949, the hospital was deactivated and, from 1951-74, the old Hotel served as office space for a variety of federal agencies including, from 1964-1973, the General Services Administration. From 1974-1982 the building was vacant, a period of deterioration capped by a fire that extensively damaged the 1920's portion of the building, though subsequently reconstructed during adaptation of the entire building into a U. S. Court of Appeals and Federal Building. The building reopened as a court facility in 1985, and is presently undergoing additional interior alterations of the upper stories into judges' chambers and other court activities.
 
Brigadier General Condon C. McCornack, Medical Corps.
By Justin M. Ruhge
Goleta Valley Historical Society
 
Born May 7, 1880 at Saint Helena, California, Condon C. McCornack graduated from the University of Oregon in 1901 with a B.S. Degree and in 1904 received his Doctor of Medicine Degree from Jefferson Medical College in Pennsylvania. He was commissioned a First Lieutenant in the Regular Army Medical Corps April 23, 1910. He served on the American western frontier, in China, the Philippines and Hawaii. He was awarded the Legion of Merit in October 1943. At the time of his retirement he was Deputy Chief of Staff of the Western Defense Command. He was promoted to Brigadier General on May 31, 1944 and died on November 5, 1944 in Letterman General Hospital, San Francisco Presidio.
 
Updated 3 November 2008
 

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