Who’s not “Keen”  on TV shows like Antiques Roadshow, History Detectives or Ken Burn’s documentaries? The other day we had a taste of what makes them so “Hotsy-totsy” to watch, right in our backyard… well, almost!

While helping our neighbor (the one who is transforming her 1890 home into a modern homestead) do some repairs to the old garage, the guy folks stumbled on 25 metal signs that were nailed to undersides of planks of wood.

A few are in decent shape, and many need a bit of TLC–no matter, how “Ducky!”

Peeking into the Past

The homeowner did a bit of Internet searching and, thanks to a local blogger, who “Know His Onions” found out that:

“The Marcell Inn opened in 1922 on Lincoln Avenue and was very popular with the Hollywood crowd, bootleg alcohol being served along with fine French food, and all that was necessary to find the out-of-the-way location was to look for the searchlight beacon mounted on a tower on the roof of the Inn. Altadena Drive back then was called North Foothill Boulevard, and was used as a major east-west thoroughfare, so most folks could see the beacon coming from either direction without too much trouble.

The story was, during Prohibition, that if you needed to find the Altadena Sheriff, just look for his car in the parking lot of the Marcell Inn first, as usually he hung out there as his unofficial office. Apparently, he was good pals with the owner, Joe Marcell Annechini. However, the local cops weren’t able to help Joe on November 12, 1923, when the Feds busted him and nine others, after showing up unexpectedly and a full house of 300 headed for the hills. The L.A. Times story doesn’t say if the Altadena Sheriff got hauled in, too, but back in those days law enforcement usually gave other law enforcement a free pass. Joe posted $2000 bond and could go home.

The Marcell Inn was written up at the time in the 1930’s as a great place to go and get excellent cuisine. It was also popular with the Santa Anita horse racing set when California allowed horse racing again in 1933 at the same time Prohibition was ended.

However, the Marcell Inn was just too out of the way as the Depression dragged on and it was out of business and sold in 1937. For a number of years the Mt. Lowe Military Academy used the buildings and grounds for their school, and now the grounds, the buildings being long since demolished, are the location of a community garden, with only the front gate stone columns and ornamental ironwork still surviving to be seen on West Palm Street just east of Lincoln Avenue”

Courtesy of Avenue to the Sky

The speakeasy is long gone and now home to the Altadena (a foothill city north of Pasadena) Community Gardens.   Isn’t that just the “Bee’s Knees” or “Cat’s Meow.”   The signs already created a”Buzz” in the community.  A few local bloggers and “Newshawks” want to do a little story about finding these signs.  My guess these are the only things left of the “Juice Joint.”

Now my question is, how did 25 signs end up on the garage… “Slay me!”

So what’s our neighbor going to do with all those signs?  Of course, she’ll keep one, one should go to the local historical society–and the others? It was suggested that she maybe auction them off to get some “Clams” to pay for her “Spiffy”homestead renovations.

What “Dingus” has your homestead “Coughed Up?”

You Dig?


  1. Cafe Pasadena says:

    I’m just glad these historic signs were found by someone who appreciates such finds! Others might have just trashed them as “junk.”

  2. Tom Davis says:

    Any plans to sell the Marcell Inn signs yet?

  3. Altadena Historical Society says:

    We are the local historical society. The Marcell Inn is piece of our past. You can read about it in Michele Zack’s book, Altadena: Between Wilderness and City. Is there any way we can get one of the signs? We would so much appreciate it.

    Altadena Historical Society
    Jane Brackman

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