Myron Hunt and the reversed plate on the front collonnade of Pasadena Central Library

Not that the construction of Pasadena Central Library on 285 E. Walnut Street would be a mistake. On the contrary: built by regional Architect Myron Hunt (1868-1952) in 1927, the main library of Pasadena is an example of the City’s rich architectural heritage.

 

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Myron Hunt was not only a member of the Steinway Hall group of Chicago which later on became known as the Prairie School and worshipped by Frank Lloyd Wright, Hunt spent over two years in Europe (1893-1896) with his wife Harriette studying the Architecture of the Renaissance. He also participated in the formation of the Arts and Crafts Society which influenced the Architecture of the time. The detailed wooden carvings of the interior shelves and panels in the Pasadena Library are a beautiful example of this love of craftsmanship.

The exterior language of the facade – pilasters and moldings with classicistic motives – speak of the many buildings Hunt must have seen during his visits in Italy.

But strangely, the plate over the second pilaster is reversed.

It is unclear how this mistake came to be. It is barely imaginable that someone like Hunt – he obtained his formal education as an architect at MIT from 1890 – 1893 and he, later on, worked for the architectural firm Shepley, Rudman and Coolidge in Chicago from 1896 -1903 – would draw one plate upside down. Was Hunt a man of the awkward temper who enjoyed observing people, wondering, if anyone would ever notice?

Was it an intern who drew one plate while standing at one end of the table, then turned around and drew the other three on the other end of the table and Hunt was too busy to notice?

Or was it an angry construction worker who sought revenge by sabotaging his bosses work?

No one will ever know. Myron Hunt was not a man of many words. While he left behind an impressive body of works in the City of Pasadena and the surrounding areas (for more works by Myron Hunt see Pasadena City Hall, The Rose Bowl, Occidental College, Huntington Memorial Hospital to name just a few), Hunt, unfortunately, left behind no written materials.

And for all the history buffs and architectural aficionados, the mystery of the reversed plate on the Pasadena Central Library shall remain – until further – forever unsolved.