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.
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