Why We Like This Place
It’s hard to believe that the beautiful and historic Maxwell House, once the epitome of gracious living, actually stood empty for half a century. Fortunately, after years of careful restoration, this 1929 “jewel in the crown” of the landmark-designated Western Justice Center, is not only alive with activity again but offers a completely enchanting wedding location in the leafy enclave once known as “Millionaire’s Row.”
In the early 1900s, Pasadena was a magnet for wealthy Easterners in search of a winter respite. By the 1920s, however, the flow had diminished—that is, until the newly enlarged “destination resort” Vista del Arroyo re-energized the area, drawing guests to its sprawling Spanish Revival main building as well as its private cottages. In 1929, George Maxwell, a wealthy litigator, commissioned architects Marston and Maybury to build a 13,000-square-foot “bungalow” on the hotel grounds. This Mediterranean Revival vacation home, designed to accommodate the Maxwells’ love of entertaining, was abuzz each winter with elegant parties until the Depression and then WW II took its toll, leading to the eventual abandonment of the property in the 1940s. Remarkably untouched by developers, this glorious building with the elite pedigree has been reborn as a valuable center for community artists and activities.
As soon as you drive onto Grand Avenue, you can see what makes Maxwell House so special. A meticulously tended rose garden, enhanced by blooming magnolia and crepe myrtle trees, creates the perfect introduction to the pink-hued mansion. Graceful columns and an intricate leaded-glass door beckon you inside to the Foyer, a grand space with 20-foot ceilings and dramatic cathedral windows at the far end. To one side, a sweeping staircase with a wrought-iron fleur-de-lis railing leads to an interior balcony and the second floor. As your eye travels upward, you’re instantly drawn to the spectacular hand-painted ceilings. (Throughout the entire house, the original artistry and craftsmanship have been carefully preserved.) Many couples choose this lovely space for their ceremony, allowing for a showstopper entrance down the staircase, but the Foyer could just as easily work as an elegant spot for cocktails—or even a dance floor with a DJ set up on the balcony above.
Off the Foyer is the Dining Room, centered by a massive wooden table and an antique sideboard for buffets. Two tall French doors overlook the side lawn, and the ceilings here, once again, are striking, with a carved, three-dimensional, pink deco design. Two archways lead into the coved-ceiling Conference Room, richly appointed with floral-patterned rugs, decoratively painted walls, and picture windows frame a view of the front garden. Speaking of gardens, you also have use of the private enclosed back patios, built around a 300-year-old oak tree and scented with jasmine. It’s easy to imagine the Maxwells hosting their society friends under this same tree… no doubt, they’d be happy to see their home lit up with love and laughter once again.