The Historic Blinn House
The cherished home of Pasadena Heritage, meeting space for local community groups, and a unique piece of Pasadena's rich architectural history
The Edmund Blinn House, photos by Tavo Olmos and Dennis Hill
Located at 160 N. Oakland, the Blinn House serves as our current offices and was designed in 1905 by renowned Chicago architect George Washington Maher. It stands unique in Pasadena and California as the only known Maher residential structure built west of the Mississippi River. Featuring finely detailed woodwork and paneling, beautiful fireplaces, and hardwood floors, the Blinn House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, both individually and as part of the Ford Place Historic District. The Blinn House is also a Pasadena Cultural Landmark and is listed on the California Register of Historical Resources.
In 2021, after more than 75 years of service to its members and the Pasadena community, the Women’s City Club of Pasadena decided to dissolve and transfer ownership of the Edmund Blinn House to Pasadena Heritage and serves as our offices and remains a meeting space for local community groups.
Make boring events a thing of the past
The Blinn House is available for private tours, special events, and as a meeting space for your next group. Contact us to book at
[email protected] or by phone at 626-441-6333
Community Meeting Space
The History of the Blinn House
The Blinn Family
The original occupants of the house, the Blinn family consisted of husband and wife Edmund and Kate Blinn and their four children. Edmund Blinn, an Oak Park, Illinois native, made a fortune in the lumber business and enjoyed visiting Pasadena as a place of respite from the harsh Chicago winters.
Like many of the early Pasadena residents of this era, Pasadena was a popular destination for Midwesterners and the Blinns decided to jump on the western moving bandwagon and build a home here. Planning started in 1905 and completed in 1906. The house was designed by noted Chicago architect George W. Maher, and in similar fashion to the Bilnns' Oak Park residence and as such, contains many features suited to withstand Midwestern winters. The Blinns occupied the house from its construction in 1906 until it was purchased by the Women's City Club of Pasadena in 1944.
The Architect and Design
Architect George W. Maher (1864-1926) was recognized as one of the finest architects in Chicago, along with Burnham & Root, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Louis Sullivan. Maher is credited with a design philosophy which he called the "Motif-Rhythm Theory," whereby geometric and/or floral motifs were repeated as decorative elements throughout a structure. He is also cited, along with Wright, as a leading architect of the Prairie School, a popular Midwestern style of architecture originating in Chicago.
Starting in 1890, the Prairie School movement reached its height between 1901-1915, and was created to serve as a uniquely North American style architecture meant to evoke the feeling of wide open spaces on the prairie. In opposition to Classical and Revival styles, the Prairie School built upon and shared many elements of the Art and Crafts Movement such as a heavy focus on craftsmanship and aversion to mass production.
The Blinn House sits unique Pasadena's many historic sites as the only known Maher residential structure built west of the Mississippi River.
The Women's City Club of Pasadena
Founded in 1945 as a social club for women and a center for women's organizations and other civic groups, the Women's City Club was headquartered in the Blinn House from 1945-2021. The home was acquired by the Club, with support from philanthropist Gloria Crane Gartz (pictured left) to provide a comfortable, elegant place for women to meet, socialize and work together on various community projects. Over its many years, the Women's City Club welcomed thousands of members, guests, and visitors and hosted scores of memorable events.
In 2021, after more than 75 years of service to its members and the Pasadena community, the Women's City Club of Pasadena decided to dissolve and transfer ownership of the Edmund Blinn House to Pasadena Heritage.
One of the most significant contributions made by the Women's City Club was to provide meeting space for other non-profit organizations. Beginning with women's groups in particular, the Club opened it's doors to more and more varied organizations over the years. More than twenty community groups were meeting there regularly in recent times. Pasadena Heritage continues that tradition as we have recently welcomed many of those same groups back to meet.
Pasadena Heritage's New Ownership
In May of 2020, members of the Women's city Club voted to dissolve the Club. In accordance with its founding mission and bylaws, members chose to transfer ownership of the Blinn House to Pasadena Heritage.
We completed several major rehabilitation projects, including electrical and plumbing repairs and upgrades, replacement of aging HVAC systems, adding insulation, and installation of a new roof and moved our offices to the Blinn house in May of 2022, once construction was complete.
Working for many months to navigate the details of this arrangement, Board Chair Brian Baker and Executive Director Sue Mossman devoted extraordinary time and effort to the project, assisted by Board and staff members, advisors and experts. We are especially grateful to William W. Ellinger III, historic architect, for his countless hours of work and his expertise throughout this process. Preferred Bank and Senior Vice President Nancy Pepper for working with us to arrange financing, and to the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and attorney Mehdi Eddebbarh for providing legal services for this complicated transaction. Len Schautal, Jr. and Zemrus Escrow is also due our thanks for their professional services and assistance.
The acquisition of the Blinn House is an honor and a privilege for Pasadena Heritage, and we are very grateful to the Women's City Club for entrusting us with their historic home.
Unique Features of the Blinn House
With its detailed woodwork and paneling, beautiful fireplaces, hardwood floors, and intricately designed windows, the Blinn House features several aspects unusual in Southern California.
One of the most unique features of the house is its use of a broken-arch motif. The broken-arch is seen repeatedly throughout the house from the exterior front-door entrance, to the bedrooms windows.
A trailing wisteria pattern is also another prominent feature found throughout the house. Artfully used in windows, doors and in an extraordinary glass tile fireplace, the wisteria pattern lends itself to the grassland feel of prairie life.
One the house’s most striking and rare features is the fireplace crafted by the Chicago firm Giannini and Hilgart. Providing a dramatic centerpiece in the living room, the glass tile fireplace features both wisteria and the broken-arch and brings the theme of nature to the forefront of the space .
Photos of The Edmund Blinn House are by Tavo Olmos and Dennis Hill
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