News of the Arroyo
Historic La Casita del Arroyo reopens to public
|<b>August 1, 2014</b> - La Casita, that delightful meeting spot on the banks of the Arroyo, has been refurbished and is now open again.<b></b> -
|Daniel Serrano, Staff Writer
|Los Angeles Register|
|The rear of La Casita del Arroyo, which was recently reopened after a four-month renovation, overlooks a canyon in Pasadena. BILL ALKOFER , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER|
The historic La Casita del Arroyo in Pasadena celebrated its grand reopening Tuesday with a full-capacity audience attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included the mayor, city officials and dozens of community members who donated money to help fund its renovation.
Originally constructed in 1933 as a public works project during the great depression, the La Casita del Arroyo, which is now a rentable gathering spot for public and private organizations, sits on the Arroyo Seco, the 22-mile-long river that runs from the San Gabriel Mountains down through Pasadena and into northeast Los Angeles.
A private-public partnership between the city of Pasadena and the La Casita Foundation, which helps to oversee the gardens surrounding La Casita del Arroyo, funded the $525,000, four-month renovation of the facility that began in March.
“At a time when we’re so constrained fiscally, our city members, our entire community, provided the private contributions to make this happen,” said Pasadena Councilman Steve Madison. “I can’t stress to you how proud we are.”
Tom Seifert, president of La Casita Foundation, said the cost was evenly divided between the city and donors.
The renovation, which called for sections of wood that had been taken from the velodrome track built in the nearby Rose Bowl for the 1932 Olympic games to be extracted and reused, didn’t come easy.
“You can’t imagine what we ran into; we had every kind of damage you could possibly imagine,” Seifert said.
The damage accumulated from a fire in the 1980s, exposure to water and termite infestations, said Bob Oundjian, owner of B-One Construction, which was contracted to carry out the work.
Oundjian and his employees took the wood, which Seifert said he thought to be unusable, separated it into sheets and cut it into thin, individual strips that then were laid into place, sanded and given a clean finish.
“It was more work than anyone thought it would be,” Oundjian said.
Repurposing of existing material like that, though, makes the building unique, said Daniel Sanchez, the project manager for Onyx Architects, which worked on it.
“If this was built today, it would be a LEED platinum building because it’s all made from recycled and found material,” he said. “It was ahead of its time.”
Martyn Belmont, 72, is a Pasadena resident who donated to the La Casita renovation project. In addition to having been the president of the La Casita Foundation in the past, she said she used the building as a child and took her own children there for Boy Scouts meetings and other activities.
“It’s a wonderful building and it’s unique to Pasadena,” she said. “It’s a very special place to me.”
Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard addressed those in attendance, calling the building a “gem” and thanking everyone for his efforts.
“I hope this continues to be a community resource for many, many years,” he said.
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