PROFESSOR THADDEUS LOWE
Remembering Pasadena's Echo Mountain House
Pasadena Star-News (CA) - Monday, November 14, 2011
Author: Sid Gally, Correspondent
There is something foreboding about this picture of Thaddeus Lowe 's elegant hotel, the Echo Mountain House on Echo Mountain at the top of his inclined railway.
The Pasadena Daily Evening Star on February 5, 1900, headlined: "BURNED - Echo Mountain House Razed to Ground by Flames - The Famous Landmark Caught Fire From a Defective Flue."
The paper said it had been the custom for servants to light the fires about 4 a.m. to prepare breakfast. About that time flames could first be seen from Pasadena and by 7 a.m. there was only smoke as the roof had fallen in and telephone lines were cut off.
The hotel had been opened in the fall of 1894. It was considered to have first-class fire protection with stand pipes throughout the building with water in a reservoir about six hundred feet higher than the hotel.
Lowe had lost control of his mountain enterprise in 1896 when it had been put in the hands of receivers, the most recent being Pasadenan Jared S. Torrance. The enterprise had been sold recently to Valentine Peyton and the heirs of H. M. Singer who would bear the loss.
The fire had spread slowly enough that no guests or employees were injured and much of the furniture could be moved out. The power house was saved by carpets put on the roof so the inclined railway remained in service.
Professor Lowe was in San Francisco at the time and was notified by wire. They told him that the great telescope and the giant searchlight were safe.
The Star said it was one of the best known hotels in the country. "Situated as it was on a small plateau of the mountain it was visible for miles around, and tourists coming from the east got their first glimpse of Pasadena from the car windows upon seeing the beautiful white structure, seemingly perched among the clouds. At night it was like a huge stellar body with all its electric lights and was visible for miles, even at sea."
The paper reported that the hotel was insured for $7,000 and the contents for $2,000. It was estimated that only about one-fifth the value was covered. The Echo Mountain House was never rebuilt.