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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mystery History -- Solved!

Roberta wins with her 8:24 a.m. Tuesday guess "Kidspace and the old ant trail?"

In the 1986 photo above, children climb the Ant Wall at the original location of Kidspace Children's Museum inside the McKinley School gymnasium where they were located for 20 years.

In a move that was somewhat controversial at the time, Kidspace relocated in 2004 to the former
Fannie E. Morrison Horticultural Center, which they spent five years renovating and expanding inside and out in Brookside Park.

The horticultural center, designed by Fitch Harrison Haskell and funded by wealthy widow Fannie Demmon Morrison, became the first site in the western U.S. of major flower shows. These took place for many years. There were four buildings, three of which remain (a fourth was lost to fire in 1984)

When it became vacant, it was used for storage by the City of Pasadena.

Fannie Morrison was born in Wisconson in 1871 and raised in suburban Boston. Her father was the treasurer of a copper mining company and her husband, Barnabus T. Morrison, whom she married in 1899, was the treasurer of a rubber mill. She lived at 425 S. San Rafael Ave. in Pasadena.

Prior to moving to Pasadena, she was actively involved in suburban Boston civic affairs and was instrumental in improving the Demmon-Morrison mansion and coach house, which is now the home of Regis College.

The new Kidspace complex, which opened in 2004, has five times more square footage than the McKinley gym. The 3.5-acre site also includes gardens and outdoor exhibits designed to expose children to the Arroyo Seco environment.

Many thanks to Pasadena Museum of History, Kidspace Children's Museum and Regis College.


  1. Fascinating as always, Ann. I used to walk past the horticultural center before Kidspace took over. It was overgrown and decaying, a sleeping beauty. I love what's there now. When was the original horticultural center built?

  2. Bellis, it was 1928. I intended to include that so I'm glad you asked!

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  4. No sour grapes here. I love learning the history and especially seeing the old photos.

  5. How embarrassing is it to go without a child? Should I borrow a Marrin grandchild?

  6. The present day play ground is very attractive. I'm glad they kept it. Like Bellis, I walked the edges especially when the wysteria was in bloom

  7. Does the 1986 photo exist in color? The kid in the bottom left looks familiar.

  8. This ant wall photo is the only image of the original Kidspace museum I can find anywhere. Are there other photos from the McKinley School location? I remember going to Kidspace as a kid in the early 80's. It was the most amazing place. I remember all the exhibits. There was a glow in the dark room, a news reporter room with a camera, the ant wall of course, and an exhibit showing the heart rates of various animals. It's stuck with me all these years. :)