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Spring Time at the Huntington Library

  • Mar 24, 2013 · 10:15 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

Please Note: I am hosting this event for both Gay Foodies and Pleasure Palate. When you arrive at the venue, call/text me at:[masked]

Admission is $23 per person.

The visit to the Huntington Library will last anywhere between 4 to 6 hours. I have to attend a BDay party afterward, so I can't host a dining event after our visit like I normally would.

Its been almost 2 years since I have visited the Huntington Library, so I'm due for another visit to this place. My primary reason to visit is to see the restored Japanese Tea House, but while there I will cram in as much art and flower viewing as much as possible.

From their website:

Return of an Icon

After a year-long closure and a $6.8 million renovation, the historic Japanese Garden reopened in April, marking its centennial as one of the most beloved and iconic landscapes at The Huntington. Completed in 1912, the nine-acre site, with its picture-postcard views of koi-filled ponds, distinctive moon bridge, and historic Japanese House, has attracted more than 20 million visitors since the institution opened to the public in 1928.

“The Japanese Garden is arguably the most popular spot at The Huntington,” says James Folsom, the Telleen/Jorgensen Director of the Botanical Gardens. “It is a garden that functions on multiple levels at once. It’s a magical place, intimate and inspiring, yet at the same time it teaches us about Japan’s unique landscape traditions, craftsmanship, horticulture, and rituals.”

Several new elements enhance this “magical place.” Among the new features visitors will see is an authentic ceremonial teahouse, situated on a ridge above the existing Japanese House and set within a traditionally landscaped tea garden. A newly created waterfall cascades down the slope, visually connecting the tea garden to the ponds below.

The teahouse, called Seifu-an (the Arbor of Pure Breeze), was donated to The Huntington by the Pasadena Buddhist Temple. Built in Kyoto in the 1960s, it made a return trip to Japan for restoration in 2010. Kyoto-based architect and craftsman Yoshiaki Nakamura (whose father built the original structure) oversaw the restoration. The restored teahouse was then shipped back to San Marino and painstakingly reassembled here under the tutelage of Nakamura and other expert craftsmen who had traveled from Kyoto for the project. Its location on a picturesque ridge provides visitors with a stunning new vantage point from which to admire the vista below. The teahouse will be used, on occasion, for demonstrations of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. (Unlike the tea shop in the Chinese Garden or the Rose Garden Tea Room, it will not serve refreshments.)

Meanwhile, in the historic core of the garden, extensive restoration work has been done (as anyone who has peered beyond the construction fence in the past year can attest). Age had taken its inevitable toll in the garden: Rotted wood, termite damage, splitting plaster, and shifting soil all demanded thorough attention. A team of architects with backgrounds in historic renovation plus horticulturists, landscape architects, engineers, and Japanese craftsmen undertook the year-long project led by Folsom and horticultural curator David MacLaren.

Restoration of the Japanese House, a structure built in Japan around 1904, was led by preservation architect Kelly Sutherlin McLeod. Her research revealed a number of original architectural features that had been covered over or removed during the course of the past century. Elements such as the distinctive curves of the roof line, an elaborately carved ornament atop one of the gables, and original plaster and wood finishes have been restored, giving the house a dramatically different appearance, but one more authentic to the building’s past.

Repairs to the central pond system and water infrastructure were another key aspect of the project, along with renovation of the original faux bois (false wood) ornamental trellises that are covered with blooming wisteria in spring. The project also included improvements to pathways, making them more accessible. Landscape architects Takeo Uesugi and his son Keiji Uesugi, both affiliated with California Polytechnic University, Pomona, oversaw design plans for the landscape.

A Storied Past

The Japanese Garden is among the oldest and most elaborate of its kind in America. Begun in 1911, it was inspired by widespread Western fascination with Asian culture. As was fashionable at the time, many wealthy Americans and Europeans added exotic gardens to their estates. The Japanese gardens exhibited at world’s fairs and expositions in St. Louis, Chicago, and San Francisco helped to fuel the trend. Henry E. Huntington shared this interest, and at the urging of his superintendent, William Hertrich, he decided to build his own Japanese garden on his San Marino estate.

Many of the garden’s plants and ornamental fixtures came from a property in nearby Pasadena that had failed as a commercial venture. Purchased in its entirety by Huntington, the materials also included the Japanese House, an example of a type of upper-class Japanese dwelling typical of the 19th century. The moon bridge, commissioned by Huntington, was built by Japanese craftsman Toichiro Kawai.

After the institution opened to the public in 1928, the Japanese Garden became a major draw for visitors. But by the advent of World War II, staffing shortages and the political climate caused the Japanese Garden to be neglected, with parts of it inaccessible to the public, and the Japanese House fell into disrepair. In the 1950s, members of the San Marino League helped support the refurbishment of the buildings and surrounding landscape. In 1968, The Huntington added the Zen Garden and a bonsai display that was expanded in 2010.

Cultivating California: Founding Families of the San Marino Ranch
Cultivating California: Founding Families of the San Marino Ranch

Feb. 16–May 13, 2013
Library, West Hall

One hundred years ago, Henry Huntington and several of his neighboring landowners founded the city of San Marino—a rural community covering four square miles of fertile agricultural land. The city took its name from Huntington’s property, known as the San Marino Ranch. But three families who farmed the land before Huntington’s arrival played key roles in the history of the region. “Cultivating California: The Founding Families of the San Marino Ranch,” tells the story of the Wilson, Shorb, and Patton families, who helped transform a region of one-time Spanish land grants into an agricultural paradise. Rare family photographs, letters, legal documents, and artifacts will be among the objects displayed.

Maurice Merlin and the American Scene, 1930–1947
Maurice Merlin and the American Scene, 1930–1947

Jan. 19–April 15, 2013
Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing

The work of Depression-era artist Maurice Merlin (1909–1947) is the subject of a new exhibition opening Jan. 19 at The Huntington—the first museum exhibition to focus on the under-recognized artist. “Maurice Merlin and the American Scene, 1930–1947” brings together approximately 30 paintings, watercolors, and prints by Merlin, as well as nine works by others in his circle, to shed light on the vibrant Detroit art scene in which Merlin worked while employed by the federal government’s Works Progress Administration (WPA).

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  • koti

    it is wonderful as usual, it's hard to leave the place, even though I was tired and had a mild headache after almost 3 hours walking, I still hanged out in Art Gallery for 45 minutes more.

    March 24, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I just got word that out of town family is arriving tongiht for the weekend and so it will conflict with Sun meetup. I cant' go but hope you all have a great time.

    March 22, 2013

  • Chrissy

    OK I'm upset, I was going to come but now my son is coming and I doubt I can afford this expensive joint this particular weekend(Amtrak ain't cheap on Moms). BUT ANYWAY, it's my favorite event they have there--the bonsai festival weekend. Enjoy and take pictures for me!

    March 20, 2013

  • Andi

    Are you adding a separate event for the lunch? I don't think I can come to the Huntington, but I can most likely come to the lunch.

    February 27, 2013

    • Robert

      Andi: I can't add the lunch as a separate event because I'm not exactly sure when the group will finish touring the Huntington. My estimate is that it will take us between 4 to 6 hours to cover the entire grounds before heading out for lunch. If you want I can call you when we are leaving for lunch so that you can join us then, but we'll have to play it by ear.

      February 27, 2013

    • Andi

      Hey Robert, I'd still like to join you guys for lunch so just give me a call/text when you're heading out for lunch. I live about a mile from the Huntington so we'll be pretty close.

      March 20, 2013

  • Tina


    February 27, 2013

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