The Arcadia Historical Society was honored to have architect Bob Ritner present his experience of restoring the Hotel Constance of Pasadena to society members and guests Jan. 28 at Prince Erik Hall.
Ritner, left, said the project has been the greatest challenge in his career, based on its structural, architectural and historical aspects. He believes his childhood created his interest in restoration. In the summers when his friends were traveling to distance places with their families, his father took him to riverbeds and ravines to retrieve items for restoration, particularly junk cars.
Prominent local businesswoman Constance V. Lewis Perry built the Hotel Constance in 1926, showcasing Mediterranean Revival-style architecture. The seven-story hotel was known as the most modern of hotels in the L.A. area in the 1930s, sitting in the suburbs of Pasadena on Colorado Boulevard.
Over the years, the hotel did not experience any major renovations. Only the paint and wallpaper changed, and carpet and linoleum flooring covered the original structure. Remarkably, the original floors, ceilings, columns and windows were intact. The outside structure of the hotel remained virtually untouched, and so, for this reason, Bob Ritner along with Kin Hui, Arcadia resident and CEO of Singpoli Group, partnered to restore the Hotel Constance.
The six retail stores attached to the hotel had prior face-lifts and were scheduled for demolition. When the surfaces were removed, however, statuettes on columns were uncovered on the original facade. These statuettes were extensively damaged when someone literally took a hammer and knocked off pieces so that they could be boarded up, with a new storefront. These statuettes are undergoing restoration; the one in the photo below has been completed.
Ritner shared that Hotel Constance is a boutique hotel; a new term used in the past 20 years, identifying a hotel with generally 100 to 150 rooms having its own unique style — a one-of-a-kind hotel. The hotel is now in its second phase with construction of more rooms, parking garage, swimming pool and other amenities, which are designed to compliment the original structure.
In addition, Ritner related, the intent of the restoration is for an individual to see clearly the old from the new: The structure is historic, but all the furnishings and amenities are modern, contemporary and technologically forward. In its 90 years, the Hotel Constance has once again returned to being the most modern of hotels in the L.A. area, reawakening as the dusitD2 Hotel Constance.
— Karen Hou
Uncovering some facts about Hotel Constance
- Hotel Constance was named for businesswoman Constance Perry in 1926. Today’s dining area is named Perry’s.
- The metalwork over the outside doors and windows were replicated as closely as possible to the original by referring to historic photos. Photos were available from the Pasadena Museum of History and the Pasadena Public Library.
- Prior to restoration, the original blueprints of the structural plans were found behind the old boiler in the basement.
- The past can be found in the present by viewing a gallery of historic photos and news articles of the Hotel Constance in a hallway off the main lobby.