Day 57- Visit a Historic Home

# 149, Visit five historic homes, 4/5


Yesterday I visited the Gamble House in Pasadena. The Gamble House was the home of David and Mary Gamble of The Procter and Gamble Company. It was built by two brothers who were architects, Charles and Henry Greene in 1908, and it is an “internationally recognized masterpiece of the turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts movement in America”.

January 14, 2016, marked the 50th Anniversary of the gift of the Gamble House from the Gamble family to the City of Pasadena and the University of Southern California. The house, designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1978, is owned by the City of Pasadena and operated by the University of Southern California School of Architecture. The Gamble House is open for public, docent-led tours and for specialty tours and programs. (Gamble House website).

I took an hour long tour through the house led by docent, Michael Oddou (below right).


The one hour tour is $15 for non-members. See the website for all tours.

I previously attended a lecture on Tuesday night of this week at the Gamble House, knowing that I would be attending this tour. I thought perhaps it would give me more information about the architects which would be helpful when I toured the house.

The lecture was put on by The Friends of the Gamble House. The title was “Prophets Without Honor, the rediscovery of Greene & Greene at Mid Century”. This is a picture of the Greene Brothers in 1950.


Ann Scheid, a member of the Gamble House staff, heads the Greene & Greene Archives at the Huntington Library. She is an author and historian and has published several books on Pasadena history. She gave the lecture.

She told the story of how Charles and Henry Greene were nearing 80, living quietly in Carmel and Altadena respectively, when strangers began to come calling at their door. Their architecture had been nearly forgotten, most of their clients, the Gambles, Elisabeth Prentiss, the Pratts, the Blackers, had long since died. Yet, slowly a new appreciation of their work was taking hold among young architects, journalists, academics and photographers. This enthusiasm eventually led to the remarkable appreciation for the Greenes’ work and for the Arts and Crafts movement, in general.

The “dishonor” referred to in the lecture title, therefore, was simply describing a prior lack of recognition for the Greene’s work and not a discussion of poor character.

Here is a short trailer for the Gamble House documentary which gives you some background. Photography is not allowed in the house, but images of the interiors are shown in the video. Many more photos of the House are available in the Greene & Greene Online Archives — over 4,000 drawings, sketches, photographs, and other documents related to their work.


There is another video here, which is a bit better. You can learn more about the 50th anniversary celebrations too, including a public celebration on Sunday, September 25, with self-paced tours and family-friendly activities and entertainment.

Though it is currently closed due to the renovation of the Scott Gallery, a Greene & Greene exhibition will be re-opening at the Huntington Library in the next couple of months. It is a permanent exhibition of furniture and decorative arts designed by Charles and Henry Greene.

After visiting the Maloof house earlier this month, it was wonderful to continue a study of woodworking as a pure art form and to gain a larger understanding of the Arts & Craft movement. Our docent told us that the architects intended for the house to look as though it was growing out of the ground. They felt the house should look as if it was part of nature. He also said that before the Arts & Craft movement, homes were designed from the outside in and were intent on portraying a certain symmetry. The Greene Brothers instead designed the home from the inside out and took cues from an Asian esthetic which did not favor symmetry. Their homes also were designed more horizontally, rather than vertically, giving the rooms a feeling of spaciousness.

I plan to return to Pasadena to view other Greene & Greene homes, as well as visit the exhibition at the Huntington when it opens. I was a bit rushed yesterday, but not so rushed that I didn’t have time to stop at the iconic Russell’s Burgers, for a burger and a piece of pie.


Progressing through The List is hungry work.

308 days to go!


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