Driving through the city's Garfield Heights neighborhood, Susan Mossman, executive director of Pasadena Heritage, the second-largest preservation organization in California, points out a restored Greene and Greene bungalow. It's unpretentious, warm, and inviting ― Pasadena through and through. Not long ago, however, it was a crack house, ready to be sold for its land value and set to be replaced by apartments.
The house was refurbished through the organization's Heritage Housing Partners. The program provides city-backed financial assistance to first-time homebuyers with modest incomes who agree to protect the house's architectural character.
"We begged them to sell us this property," says Mossman. "We put $25,000 into its restoration and sold it to a neighborhood family. The house has helped change this end of the street."
Since 1977 Pasadena Heritage has fought to make sure the city doesn't forget its luminous past. Its victories include saving the Colorado Street Bridge and protecting historic buildings in Old Pasadena; the district has evolved into Southern California's most appealing retail center. But the organization is also using preservation as a tool to enhance neighborhood life. Says Mossman, "Saving houses and protecting the community are part of the same effort."