Moritz Rosenbaum came to the settlement that later became Pasadena in 1874. He bought fifteen acres on the southwest corner of Orange Grove and Colorado, built the fifth home in the area, and started an orange grove.
He also started the first store in Pasadena, a rough board shack on Orange Grove south of Colorado. After he added liquor to his initial stock of books and stationery, early residents protested, and he decided to close the store. He later rented the building to Yuen Kee, who then operated a laundry there, the first Chinese-owned business in Pasadena.
On July 4, 1876, Mr. Rosenbaum planted a eucalyptus tree on his property in honor of the centennial of the Declaration of Independence. It was said to be the first eucalyptus in Pasadena.
Early resident Ralph Arnold described a stay in the Rosenbaum home in the fall of 1880 – “…the howling of coyotes and wild cats in the jungles of the Arroyo Seco, just below our windows, did a good job of banishing sleep …”
But the next morning brought a different perspective. “The Rosenbaum home was covered from ground to roof with an enormous ‘Gold of Ophir’ climbing rose bush in full bloom. There was also a fish pond with water lilies; also various water plants right in the front yard. Mr. Rosenbaum was one of Pasadena’s first fanciers of exotic plants and his garden had many rare plants which he had imported from his native Germany. He and his wife were a kindly old couple and enjoyed showing their gardens to strangers – a habit everyone had in those days.”
The Rosenbaums later built a more substantial home on their property, with a street address of 29 South Grand. Some of their acreage was purchased by Mrs. Emma Bangs in 1882, and is now the site of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
This article was originally published in the Fall 2013 issue of West Pasadena Residents' Association's The News.