Drama in Unexpected Places – Route 66 (Part 2)
Three scenes from the play Bee-luther-hatchee by Thomas Gibbons at Three Stops in Monrovia – Saturday, Jan 28
This event is co-sponsored by the Monrovia Historical Society
Free- Self – drive event at three stops on or near Route 66 in Monrovia
In the spring of 2016 the Sierra Madre Playhouse produced an event that brought a “classic” American play, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, to the “classic” American highway – Route 66. Unique resonances were found between the characters, era, and themes of the play and the fascinating motor-centered architecture and history of the three stops in Monrovia and Arcadia. We stopped at Tired Iron Works, The Aztec Hotel/Mayan Grill Restaurant, and the “Windmill” Denny’s Restaurant in Arcadia. The event was a unique hybrid of live theater preview, architectural preservation look-in, and car culture celebration as enthusiastic participants drove from stop to stop to see three separate scenes enacted by Sierra Madre Playhouse actors.
We are excited to pull into play these components again as we head back to Monrovia’s Route 66 on and near Shamrock Avenue. The date is Saturday, January 28th and is an apt prelude to African-American history Month as these stops shine a light on both Route 66 and Monrovia’s long and storied African-American History. Just as the play Bee-luther-hatchee deals with African-American lives, themes, and history – so does our January event.
We begin at the Monrovia History Museum which used to be the changing/locker rooms for the Monrovia Plunge, the municipal swimming pool. Like other public pools in the San Gabriel valley, historically, the Monrovia Plunge was only open to “colored” bathers on specific days. This element of the long African-American history of Monrovia is outlined in a monograph by Susie Ling of Pasadena City College which is for sale at the Museum. Participants at the Drama in Unexpected Places event on January 28th will learn about the history of the building, see a scene from Bee-luther-hatchee, and learn about a local Tuskegee Airman who is featured in the exhibition hall of the Museum.
The second stop is a brief drive away at the corner of Shamrock and Walnut. Prior to 1933 Route 66 went north on Shamrock to Foothill Boulevard. We will visit the first commercial building designated a historical landmark of Monrovia. Built in the 1920s as a fruit stand and residence, by 1929 it had been converted to a garage to serve motorists on the new Route 66. The current preservation-minded owner, Architect Norberto Nardi, has repurposed the building as his firm’s headquarters. Inside you will see the vaulted, arched roof structure with an interior, exposed, lamella wood roof system. The crisscrossing pattern of parallel arches create a diamond pattern. It is a unique feature of the building and one of the earliest examples of this type of roof in the United States.
Participants will get to see the roof, hear about the building and its preservation and landmark status, and see a scene from Bee-luther-hatchee on the shaded patio.
The final stop will be at the historic Second Baptist Church of Monrovia, just a block or so south of the Nardi headquarters on Shamrock. The façade and bell tower of the historically African-American Church, founded in 1902, fronts the street. The original church was located in a house on Royal oaks Avenue, and this church has modern architectural components. Lt. Colonel Allen Allensworth, former slave, Buffalo Soldier, and founder of the African-American community of Allensworth, California is associated with this church. He led/founded many Baptist churches in California. Participants at this stop will see the church and hear about its long history, see a scene from Bee-luther-hatchee and listen to a “Route 66 themed song from the Champagne Performance Vocal Group led by Lani S. Ridley of Theatres of Vision Prdouctions.
- 10:00 am Monrovia History Museum 742 E Lemon Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016
- 10:40 am Nardi Associates LLP Architects 805 Shamrock Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016
- 11:30 am Second Baptist Church of Monrovia 925 Shamrock Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016
- Event concludes at 12:00 noon