I couldn’t believe my eyes this afternoon!
I had just entered Balboa Park’s Alcazar Garden when I noticed something unusually colorful up in the sky. It was the bell tower of the House of Charm–appearing brand new!
Look at these photos! The restoration of the bell tower’s exterior has been so remarkable, my photos almost look like perfect, flawless paintings!
The Mingei International Museum, which occupies most of the House of Charm, is currently undergoing their big expansion and renovation, which, among other improvements, will provide visitors access to the bell tower.
The original building and its tower, created for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, were designed by architect Carleton Winslow. During the exposition the building was called the Indian Arts Building. The colorful bell tower was modeled after the tower on the Church of Santa Catarina in Puebla, Mexico. It was meant to complement Balboa Park’s iconic California Tower that rises across from what was then called the Montezuma Gardens.
Once the Mingei International Museum’s renovation is complete, the bell tower will feature a new inside staircase and skylight. It will also contain a hanging glass sculpture by acclaimed artist Dale Chihuly.
I’ve included an old black-and-white photograph from 1915 so you can see the original tower and building. The photo below was taken from the Plaza de Panama. Although the building was completely reconstructed in 1996, you’ll notice the bell tower today appears much as it did back during the Panama-California Exposition, over a century ago.
Here are some pics that I took a couple days later…
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