PROFESSOR THADDEUS LOWE
Gas and grand opera in Pasadena's past
Pasadena Star-News (CA) - Sunday, October 9, 2011
Author: Sid Gally, Correspondent
PASADENA - This flyer of the Pasadena Grand Opera House Block for Oct.
7 and 8, 1892, is from the collection of the Pasadena Museum of
"Professor" Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt (T.S.C.) Lowe had bought the
run-down opera house and was trying to bring it back to glory and to be
a home for his other ventures. (The title "professor" came from his
days of doing chemical demonstrations for medicine shows.)
Lowe became nationally famous when he tried to build a giant free balloon to go across the Atlantic.
After his days heading up the Union Army Balloon Corps in the Civil
War, he turned to illuminating gas manufacturing from coal and made a
bundle selling his patents in Pennsylvania.
He got into the gas business again in California; his mountain railway
that made him locally famous was under construction. Lowe had a towered
mansion on Orange Grove Boulevard.
Thaddeus Lowe Jr. managed the opera house and was about to stage a
Grand Juvenile Production of Iolanthe. Among the cast were Sarah and
Charlie Coleman of Pasadena’s prominent Coleman family.
The building was on the southwest corner of Raymond Avenue and Bellevue Drive, where the Royal Laundry building now stands.
The main auditorium was available for "first-class entertainments on
reasonable terms." Also the North Hall, 100-by-30 feet, "elegantly
decorated, and heated with open gas fires." In
the brochure he advertised The Pasadena Gas and Electric Light Co., of
which he was president, and son Thaddeus Jr. was general manager.
"At our show rooms in the Opera House Block may be seen a large
assortment of gas cooking and heating stoves, bath boiler heaters, gas
fixtures, waffle cookers, etc."
He also touted The Pacific- Lowe Gas and Electric Company. Again, Lowe
was president and son Leon general manager. This company said it would
"Sell rights, with or without generating apparatus, under the New Lowe
Gas System, which we guarantee to be an important advance over all
previous methods in the production of gas both as to cost and quality."
In the financial field advertised was the Citizens Bank of Los Angeles
with Lowe as vice president and board member. Also the Columbia Savings
Bank where he was a director and The Los Angeles Safe Deposit &
Trust Co., Lowe again as president.
The Parker Brothers, Dentists, advertised in the flyer, "Gas for
painless extraction." We trust the gas used wasn't the type Lowe