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Explainer: What's Up With the Swastika Pond of Pasadena?

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A tipster forwarded us the photo above of an empty pond in a Pasadena front yard (on Vosburg Street near Sierra Madre Villa)--you may notice it's shaped like a swastika. The original sender wrote that he "first discovered swastika pond in 1964. But it had water in it then, and water lilies and fish." While we're sure Pasadena was lousy with Nazi sympathizers back in the day (totally kidding, Pasadenans), none of them appear to have lived here; according to a tiny item in a 1972 edition of the Pasadena Star-News, this was built in 1906 as part of the Swastika Ranch:

"Glad you asked," says Mrs. Francis H. Webb, 3454 Vosburg St. The Webbs have been bugged by the curious--"especially from San Marino"--since buying the much-emblazoned house of the former "Swastika Ranch" in 1941, when that sign meant "Nazi" to everyone. Actually, former owners told them, the symbols, including swastika-shaped fish pond, were part of the design when the house was built in 1906 -- 14 years before Hitler helped found the NSDAP (Nazi Party). By adopting what the Germans call the hakenkreuz ("hooked cross") as emblem, Der Fuehrer did not enhance its ancient image as a lucky charm--among Amerindians, East Indians ("Swastika," from the Sanskrit for "he is well") and others.

The Orcutt Ranch in West Hills, finished in the 1920s, was also covered in swastikas and the LA Parks website elaborates: "During the first part of the 20th Century, the swastika with its positive associations was a common symbol in American culture and could be found in advertisements and product packaging ... During this same period, the swastika was a common symbol used in hand-crafted blankets, jewelry and baskets sold by American Indian artisans at railroad stations or in Fred Harvey Houses along the route of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad."

But we still don't know where the Swastika Ranch came from or who built or designed it. The original house appears to have been replaced in the late '90s. If you know anything more, let us know.
· 3454 Vosburg St [Redfin]