Monday, June 25, 2012


On Mother's Day this year, the Monrovia Historic Preservation Group hosted their 30th annual fundraising home tour to showcase about a half dozen homes and public buildings in Monrovia, CA.  The tour was an opportunity to view some beautiful vintage homes and to get a feel for Monrovia, a sleepy little town (population around 40,000) located in the foothills of San Gabriel Valley.

The tour started at the Monrovia Historical Museum where a friend and I purchased tickets and waited to be picked up by the free trolley service set up for the tour that was to take us to and from each tour stop.  We'd arrived early so I was able to spend 20 minutes (that's all you need) exploring the museum which offers local history as well as a quaint exhibition of random memorabilia and artifacts donated by Monrovia residents throughout the years.
Monrovia Historical Museum interior
Monrovia Historical Museum interior
Monrovia Historical Museum courtyard
Outside the museum, some vendors set up booths to for charity causes.  My friend and I poked around the wares while waiting for the trolley, and I was also able to hang out with Ace, a super friendly and sweet pooch that belonged to a vendor.
Finally, we boarded the trolley to head to our first house.  It was nice that the trolley service was included in the cost of the tour since it was convenient for us to park our car in one location and not have to worry about tracking down the next stop.

The tour covered five locations--four residences and a church.  All of the locations were impressive, but it was a disparate collection of buildings which lacked the overarching architectural uniformity of L.A. Conservancy's Echo Park tour.  Moreover, unlike Echo Park's preservation efforts, Monrovia's city ordinances seem laxer where renovation is concerned such that there was a dichotomy of vintage and modern juxtaposed within the interior design of some of the buildings, a dichotomy I found somewhat aesthetically jarring.
cool plant growing on fence!
Still, it was a very good tour.  The weather was perfect, and we appreciated the house to house transport.  It seemed that Monrovia made the home tour a city event because vintage auto enthusiasts roamed the streets in their roadsters and parked in front of the featured houses to add to the festive atmosphere.  Various vendors were stationed at each house.  There was a goodly turnout of visitors, and everyone--visitors as well as tour volunteers--were super friendly.
Around 1:00pm, my friend and I took a break to grab lunch.  Some quick Yelping directed us to Sunday's Old Town Bistro in downtown Monrovia.  It's a homey, popular joint, and the staff are friendly (the owner's daughter was our waitress).  However, they were clearly overburdened due to the Mother's Day rush so we ended up waiting close to an hour for our order to be prepared.  Since I'd missed breakfast, I was starving by the time I got my "Dirty Fries" order, and I inhaled that sucker in record time.  Despite the wait (or maybe because of it), it was a tasty, filling meal, and it was pleasant lunching outside.
waiting...and waiting...and waiting for our order
"Dirty Fries" with pulled pork!
After lunch, we headed over to the final stop on our tour, the First Baptist Church of Monrovia-Arcadia whose participation in the tour was part of its centennial celebration.  The First Baptist Church of Monrovia-Arcadia is the oldest Protestant church in Monrovia.  It's a very pretty church and features some very beautiful stained glass windows.  We lingered in the church a bit, taking some time to talk to the pastor's wife who told us a few facts about the church's architecture.
First Baptist Church of Monrovia-Arcadia
Finally, we ended our tour day and walked back to our car.  Along the way, we encountered a familiar figure so we stopped to say hello.
impromptu book club meeting
All in all, we spent a superb day in Monrovia, a laid-back little city that I'll no doubt visit again.

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