I stumped everybody this week.
The Nash Bros. Grocery Store was founded by Iowa-born A.K. and J.D. Nash in 1889 on the south side of Colorado Street. It became a social gathering spot where customers would stop by to visit with each other over a cup of coffee or tea, then shop for their groceries.
The Nashes were pillars of the community. J.D. Nash sat on the first charter commission in 1886 to establish the equivalent of a constitution for the City of Pasadena; Lydia Nash (Mrs. A.K. Nash) was a founder of Pasadena's Shakespeare Club and led the committee that raised money for the bronze statue of the Civil War soldier in Memorial Park.
On Dec. 1, 1895, the Nash brothers ran this ad in the Los Angeles Times:
Another ad, which I don't have a copy of but do have the text from a newspaper article about it, reads:
Are Your Chickens Sick? They ought not to be. They should be laying 2½ cent eggs. We have chicken medicine that will cure roup, swell head, cholera or most any disease."Another ad told of a customer whose rooster -- slated to be Christmas dinner -- headed for the hills, after which the customer settled on two quarts of fresh oysters from Nash Bros.
Here's the exterior of the store in about 1900:
In 1921 the business morphed into general merchandise, becoming so successful that the Nash family built a two-story building at the northeast corner of Colorado Street and Broadway (later named Arroyo Parkway), where the AT&T building stands today. By then the name of the store had changed to F.C. Nash & Co. to reflect the next generation. In the photo below, the store is on the right under the American flag during the 1926 Rose Parade (click on the photo to enlarge it):
And here's a 1930 photo:
Frederick C. Nash had two claims to fame: (1) he was a civic leader and successful entrepreneur who took the family business into the future; and (2) in 1920 he founded Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena.
A few years later F.C. Nash's son, Hammond G. Nash, became president of the company and in 1950 expanded the business even futher, creating a Nash's chain with department stores in Pasadena, Alhambra, Arcadia, Whittier, Fullerton and Pomona. Here's a photo of the Pasadena store circa 1960, which by now was in a three-story building about a block east:
Carrying on the family tradition of volunteerism, Hammond Nash was active in the Community Chest, Pasadena Boys Club, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce.
Unfortunately the Nash reign began to unravel when the Pasadena store was destroyed in a fire. Forgive the quality of the photo below – I snapped the picture from a photocopy of a May 11, 1976, L.A. Times article about the fire.
Here’s an excerpt of that article:
A $1.5 million fire roared through Nash’s Department Store, a Pasadena landmark on Colorado Blvd., Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of more than 100 employes and shoppers and jamming the business district with onlookers.
The blaze apparently started in a trash can in a storage area in the hosiery department at the rear of the main floor about half an hour after the store opened at 10 a.m., firemen said.
One store employe was injured when she fell as she and a dozen other female workers clambered down a fire escape at the front of the structure. . .
. . .Three firemen were admitted [to Huntington Memorial Hospital] suffering from smoke inhalation. A fourth was treated for cuts on the forearm and released.
Clouds of smoke blanketed the downtown Pasadena area and could be seen for miles. . .
. . .The blaze was battled by a total of 75 fire fighters from Pasadena, Alhambra, San Gabriel, Monterey Park, South Pasadena and Glendale.
At least 20 off-duty firemen who heard about the blaze were also on the line in civilian clothes.
Despite speculation that someone might be trapped inside the building, fire fighters who cautiously surveyed the weakened structure after the fire found no bodies. . .
. . .Traffic near the scene, just a block from Pasadena’s Civic Center, was tied up for hours. Police cordoned off Colorado Blvd. near the store, which is between Euclid and Marengo Ave.
Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library and Pasadena Museum of History.