AKA: Huntington Sheraton Hotel, Pasadena, CA; The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel and Spa, Pasadena, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings -public accommodations - hotels

Designers: De Bretteville and Polyzoides, Architects (firm); Hertrich, William, Landscape Gardener (firm); Hunt, Myron, Architect (firm); Mayberry and Parker, Architect and Engineer (firm); McClellan, Cruz, Gaylord and Associates, Architects (firm); Peridian Group, Landscape Architects (firm); Whittlesey, Charles F., Architect (firm); Cruz ; Peter De Bretteville (architect); Gaylord (architect); William Hertrich (landscape designer); Myron Hubbard Hunt (architect); Edward Leodore Mayberry Jr. (architect/structural engineer); McClellan (architect); Frank M. Moore (muralist/painter); Llewellyn Adelbert Parker (architect); Courtland P. Paul (landscape architect); Stefanos Polyzoides (architect); Charles Frederick Whittlesey (architect)

Dates: constructed 1905-1907

1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue
Oak Knoll, Pasadena, CA 91106-4508

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Wentworth Hotel, later the Huntington Hotel

Building History

This well-known luxury hotel opened as the "Wentworth Hotel" in 02/1907. Illinois-born Charles F. Whittlesey (1867-1941). an architect experienced building grand hotels for railroads, designed it. He worked for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, c. 1900, designing stations and hotels at stops all along the line's expanding routes. Unfortunately, the Wentworth Hotel Corporation ran out of money before its completion. Its opening became urgent by early 1907 for the stockholders to recoup some of their investments, but rains that winter spoiled the tourist season, depressing occupancy. An article in the Los Angeles Times of 02/23/1909 recalled: "The building was originally planned as a nine-story structure, but was stopped at the fifth story, and a temporary roof placed on the building. It was completed at that height ready for occupation as a hotel during the winter 1906-7. The hotel building was occupied on February 1907, but the work was continued after the date of occupancy until April 5, 1907, upon which date the directors, by resolution, directed that further work should cease on the building, that it should be accepted as it then stood, and directed a notice of such cessation of labor abandonment and acceptance be filed in the office of the County Recorder. Such notice was filed April 8, 1907, and it was from this date that the time limit was decided to run." (See "Five claims Not Allowed," Los Angeles Times, 02/23/1909, pt. II, p. 2.) Contractors on the hotel made 97 liens on the hotel for unpaid bills, five of which were judged to be too late to have been submitted. Unfortunately for the architect Whittlesey, one of his invoices fell into this "too-late" category.

The hotel lay dormant until 1911, when it was sold at a sheriff's auction. (See "Wentworth To Be Auctioned," Los Angeles Times, 12/08/1911. p. 14.) Ownership transferred to Henry E. Huntington (1850-1927), the transportation and real estate magnate; Huntington engaged the Pasadena architect, Myron H.M. Hunt (1868-1952) to remodel and refresh the building, which opened as the Hotel Huntington on January 8, 1914; Hunt had already designed Huntington's residence in San Marino, CA, (1907). The periodical Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer reported in its issue of 09/28/1912: ""Mayberry & Parker, engineers, 689 Pacific Electric Bldg., will have charge of the engineering and construction work on the uncompleted Wentworth Hotel, at Oak Knoll, which pass into the possession of H.E. Huntington within a few weeks. Myron Hunt, Hibernian Bldg., is the architect. Two stories will be added to the main section of the present 4-story reinforced concrete structure and one story to each of the wings." (See "Construction News Department," Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer, 09/28/1912, p. 14.)

A 1913 article in the Los Angeles Times indicated that Huntington demanded that the original investors needed to be removed before he would invest in reviving the hotel: "Plans and specifications for the contemplated additions and improvements to the Hotel Wentworth at Oak Knoll have been completed by the architect, Myron Hunt, of Los Angeles, and some of the construction bids are now being received. The completion of the Wentworth, which has stood for years a barren pile of unadorned masonry on the crest of the sightliest hill in this vicinity, will mark one of the most important and most generally welcomed developments of recent years in Pasadena. Fully $200,000 will be expended by H.E. Huntington in the improvements of the great tourist caravansary, which will be made one of the handsomest hostelries of its type in the world, even as it will be one of the largest. Approximately $1,000,000 had been sunk in the enormous structure before the now historical collapse of the whole enterprise. The Street railway magnate took the property over about a year ago, following extended and complicated litigation, attendant upon the abandonment of the project by its original promoters, and largely, it is declared, on account of his objection to the view of the bleak and windowless walls of the unfinished building presented from his palatial Shorb estate." (See "Cities and Towns of Los Angeles County: Thousands for the Wentworth," Los Angeles Times, 02/01/1913, pt. II, p. 12.)

The Wentworth's heyday was during the 1920s, when the wealthy from across the U.S. ventured to the hotel and spa for relaxation; Stephen W. Royce (1892-1977), who managed the hotel for a long period, became the owner in the 1920s; he relinquished control in 1954;

Building Notes

Historian Kevin Starr, in his book, Material Dreams: Southern California Through the 1920s, said of this hotel and Myron Hunt's involvement with it: "In an era of hotel building, Hunt designed more than his share, among them the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena (1913), designed initially in 1906 by Charles F. Whittlesey, another Chicagoan, but left half-built for a number of years before Henry Huntington acquired the property. Locating the entrance off a latge, landscaped parking lot, Hunt completed the Huntington as the first major hotel in Southern California to orient itself primarily to guests arriving and departing by automobile." (See Kevin Starr, Material Dreams: Southern California Through the 1920s, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994], p. 198.)

The hotel was also known for much of the twentieth century as the "Huntington Sheraton Hotel, Pasadena."


When Henry Huntington purchased the Wentworth, he commissioned Myron Hunt to oversee a renovation in 1913. The Los Angeles Times described how Huntington planned to upgrade the hotel in its 02/01/1913 report: "Huntington recently added ten acres to the original site of the hotel and is having this ground attractively landscaped under the direction of William Hertrich, his personal gardener. A bridge will connect the new grounds with the present property, and next year fifteen bungalows of picturesque design will be built in the new tract as an annex to the hotel. The whole property will be planted with rare plants and shrubs. The hotel, when completed, will contain 300 rooms, or thirty-eight more than originally contemplated. On the second, third and fourth floors the partitions will be rearranged to allow for larger suites, and among the new features will be a greatly enlarged ballroom, an auditorium with a stage, and a hospital for the help. A garage for fifty machines will be built at the rear of the grounds. The building, which is in the form of a capital 'C,' is 700 feet long, and will, when completed, be six stories high in the center and four stories on the wings. The construction will be of reinforced concrete throughout and the building will be absolutely fireproof." (See "Cities and Towns of Los Angeles County: Thousands for the Wentworth," Los Angeles Times, 02/01/1913, pt. II, p. 12.)

Owner Stephen Royce sold the Hotel Huntington to the Sheraton Hotel chain in 1954, and this company undertook several remodeling efforts, the last around 1980. Unable to raise capital to meet new seismic codes, the Huntington Sheraton Hotel closed in 1985; the Sheraton Hotel chain owned the Huntington until 1987.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel chain purchased the property in 1987, and engaged architects McClellan, Cruz, Gaylord and Associates, De Bretteville and Polyzoides, historic preservation consultants, and the Peridian Group Landscape Architects, to perform a two-and-one-half year renovation; the new Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel & Spa opened in 1991; another overhaul, advertised to have cost $19 million, occurred in 2005-2006; at this time, all 392 guest rooms, the Viennese and Georgian Ballrooms, the Terrace Restaurant, and the Lobby Lounge all received new interior treatments;

PCAD id: 123