Back in 1908, when Procter & Gamble heir David Gamble and his wife, Mary, built a winter home in Pasadena, Calif., they had no idea it would become an icon of American residential design and a National Historic Landmark. Created in the arts and crafts style by the architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene, the Gamble House melded exotic influences—Swiss chalet, Japanese temple—with a respect for its own climate and terrain. Sophisticated yet casual, it captured the California spirit.
The 8,100-square-foot house has been described as a symphony in wood. Inside, it hums with hand-rubbed maple, mahogany, cedar, oak, and Burmese teak. Outside, broad eaves cap cascades of hand-split redwood shakes. On these outer walls, decades of weathering introduced discordant notes: rot, dirt, discolored paint. In 1997 the managers of the house, which the Gamble family had donated to the city and the University of Southern California in 1966, decided to gently restore its exterior. Now a modern roof replicates the original; siding has been conserved literally shake by shake; windows, screens, railings, and the ends of 262 rafters and beams have been repaired. The Gamble House is ready for another 96 years.
GETTING THERE Go to 4 Westmoreland Place, on a road parallel to N. Orange Grove Blvd. near Hwy. 134 and I-210. One-hour tours Thurs.–Sun. noon–3 p.m., $8 (adults), $5 (seniors and students). (626) 793-3334, Gamble House.
Photography by Terrence McCarthy
This article was first published in September 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.