Painter Street

Pasadena and Whittier both have streets named after John H. Painter (1819-1891) as he was active in each city’s early development – but he also played a part in a famous historical moment. A Quaker farmer, John Painter was born and raised in Salem, OH. There he would become an abolitionist and print the town’s Anti-Slavery Bugle; it’s rumored that he was also a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. He married Edith Dean (1821-1899) in 1842 and a few years later they relocated to Iowa, where they had the last of their seven kids. Abolitionist firebrand John Brown was a close friend of Painter’s, and in fact it was Painter who secretly shipped the guns Brown needed for his ill-fated 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry, WV. In 1881, Painter, now wealthy, moved his family to Pasadena and bought 1,880 acres north of town with his old friend Benjamin Franklin Ball. (Interestingly, records show that Painter had purchased 10 acres there four years earlier.) Enriched even further by real estate, Painter started building the Painter Hotel at Fair Oaks and Washington in 1887. (It was rechristened “La Pintoresca” ten years later under new management and burned down in 1912; it’s now the site of La Pintoresca Park.) Simultaneously, he was vice president of the Pickering Land & Water Co., the Quaker consortium behind the brand new town of Whittier. Pasadena’s Painter Street and Whittier’s Painter Avenue were both named in 1887.