First Pasadena State Bank

1001 E. Southmore Avenue
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    Mod No More

Upon seeing this building looming over the horizon for the first time, you might mistake it lost work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Designed just 3 years after Wright’s death by his most commercially-successful followers, the Houston firm of Mackie and Kamrath, the 15-story First Pasadena State Bank building quickly became a towering symbol of a growing city.

For decades it was the centerpiece of the Pasadena community, with its outline appearing in the Chamber of Commerce logo and on children’s report cards. Its spacious community room hosted school board meetings and its tower bustled with professional offices.

The original tower received multiple additions by the firm of Doughtie and Porterfield, who were associate architects in the original construction, as the bank grew.

After a series of mergers after the 1980s “savings and loan crisis”, the successor bank moved on to a non-descript structure less than a block away in 2002 and the building was sold for redevelopment. The city issued a demolition permit in 2005, but the building was given a temporary reprieve by a new owner.  Hurricane Ike caused damage to the roof and flooded the basement areas. During vacancy, vandals have repeatedly infiltrated the building, breaking windows, painting graffiti and destroying interior spaces. The owners received or were eligible for disaster funding and preservation funding but did not use it toward the building.

Mayor Jeff Wagner of Pasadena, and the Pasadena Economic Development agency advocated for the building’s demolition. All that remains today is an empty lot.