Arroyo Architectural Tour

Arroyo Architectural Tour, Pasadena, California (A)

Craftsman architectural walking tour explores the Prospect Historic District in Pasadena, CA. This 90 minute, 2 mile round trip walk covers seven notable homes including two museum homes open to the public built by famous architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and the Greene Brothers.
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Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: Arroyo Architectural Tour
Guide Location: USA » Pasadena
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: Jennifer Marlo Gober
Author Bio: Jennifer Marlo is writer keen on bygone eras. Having recently discovered a profound love for her native Los Angeles, Jennifer is eager to partake in the sharing of L.A. history and folklore.
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • The Gamble House
  • The Millard House and Studio
  • The Bentz House
  • The Hindry House
  • The Charles Greene House
  • The Duncan-Irwin House
  • The Pasadena Museum of History (Fenyes House and Studio)
The Gamble House

1) The Gamble House

The David B. Gamble house is a piece de resistance of the Arts and Crafts architectural movement in America. Blending hearty woods with ethereal stained-glass images, the Gamble house is a harmonious and sweeping estate that typifies the indoor-outdoor lifestyle of Southern California.

Built by architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene in 1908, the Gamble house was commissioned by David and Mary Gamble of the Proctor and Gamble Company as a retirement home for the aging millionaires. Inspired by the Asian exhibition at the Chicago Pavilion of 1876, The Greene Brothers designed the house with a clean, utilitarian use of woods blending Japanese and Swiss fashion. Extraordinary detailing makes this home a masterpiece of art and function; exquisitely carved wood panels adorn the upper perimeters of the main rooms, the jutting main staircase is carved from one solid piece of wood, double layers of stained glass depict the family crest through glowing, iridescent windows.

The Gamble house is open to public tours Thursday through Sunday from 12:00 noon until 3pm. Tickets may be purchased in the adjacent bookstore that once served as the Gamble House garage.
The Millard House and Studio

2) The Millard House and Studio

The Millard House and Studio was built by superstar architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1923 for widow Alice Millard, a rare book and antiques dealer who had commissioned Wright to build her a house in Illinois decades prior.

This period of Frank Lloyd Wright’s career is marked with the completion of the Hollyhock House in Hollywood and the Imperial Hotel in Japan in which he experimented in incorporating concrete blocks. The seasoned architect later wrote in his biography that concrete blocks were “the cheapest and ugliest thing in the building world” and challenged himself in exploring “what could be done with that gutter rat.”

Considering the fire protection concrete blocks would provide for her antique books, Mrs. Millard agreed to Wright’s design adding a few personal elements such as an ornate fire screen, 18th century Delft tile and enormous rustic wooden doors.

The competed structure received critical response; beaux-arts architects were revolted by the use of materials and harsh review was given by those accustomed to wide wooden structures, rather than the tall and concrete Millard House.

However, by 1969, the Milard house was ranked as one of the 12 most significant landmarks in Los Angeles. Architecture experts lauded the simplicity of the house, which rises from a dip in the arroyo like a mysterious rock. Cut-out peep holes in the blocks and multitudes of open doors prove Wrights’ genius in re-inventing the indoor-outdoor lifestyle.
The Bentz House

3) The Bentz House

The Bentz brothers were the proprietors of an Asian curiosity store strategically located across from the Hotel Green and her affluent visitors. Exotic trinkets from Japan were in fashion at the turn of the century, making the Bentz brothers successful shop owners.

Hoping to cash in on the swelling real estate market, John Bentz decided to invest his assents in land development. He purchased 32 acres and commissioned the Greene brothers to build this house in 1906.

Originally intended as a “model” home, Bentz built this house on the least desirable lot in his parcel, intending to later build his dream home on the best lot once all the land had been developed and sold.

John Bentz’s plan was never realized and the Bentz family remained in the model home until John’s death in 1928. Over the decades, John Bentz grew to love the simple elegance of the home, with its beautiful porches and floor to ceiling windows. John’s wife Louise, however, grew resentful that she never had an influence over the architecture of the family home.

Almost immediately after John’s death Louise Bentz hired painters to coat the interior of the house in white paint, covering the brick fireplace and beautifully crafted wooden walls and ceilings.

The home was not restored to its original, naked beauty until the mid 1970’s when the home’s new owners set to restore the Bentz house to its original state.
The Hindry House

4) The Hindry House

The Hindry house was built in 1910 by architect brothers Alfred and Arthur S. Heineman for William and Mary Hindry. William Hindry was a mining engineer who helped to spearhead the “cyanide process, ” a revolutionary new way to extract gold from mines. Hindry’s successes with the cyanide process eventually led him to becoming manager and part owner of the Esperanza Mining Company in El Oro, Mexico, which, at the time, was one of the largest gold mines in the world.

The Esperanza Mining Company was eventually sold to the Guggenheims and Hindry moved to Pasadena, where he worked remotely as a mining consultant -- this move was precipitated by Hindry’s deteriorating health; at the time Pasadena’s mild climate was considered a cure-all. In 1909, The Pasadena Daily News reported that Hindry spent over $60,000 on his mission style home and gardens, making it one of the most expensive and “elaborate” properties in Prospect Park.

Interestingly, architects Alfred and Arthur S. Heineman had formed their architectural firm in 1909, just months before they were commissioned to build Hindry’s elaborate 6,000 square foot mansion. What’s even more surprising is that neither architect had endeavored any formal training in architecture. Despite their lack of training, the Heineman Brothers went on to become well-respected California architects, designing over 250 bungalows and 10 mansions in the Los Angeles area.
The Charles Greene House

5) The Charles Greene House

Charles Greene, architect of the Gamble house, began work on his own home in 1901 after returning from his European honeymoon with wife Alice. The home was originally intended as a small one-story, two-bedroom abode that was to blend harmoniously with the enormous oak tree on the property. Due to his growing family, Greene decided to extend the structure bit by bit, which eventually resulted in this seven bedroom, two and a half story home.

In 1914, Greene added his last bit of flair to the property by carving a garage out of the hillside and adorning it with a gorgeous brick facade. The Greenes only lived in the home for 15 years; in 1916 they moved to Carmel, CA.
The Duncan-Irwin House

6) The Duncan-Irwin House

As with many historical homes in Pasadena, the name of the Duncan-Irwin house reflects its original owners. Theodore Irwin purchased the home from Katherine Duncan at the turn of the century. The home was built in the Japanese style, with simple and clean lines intended to harmonize the structure and grounds. In 1906 Irwin hired the Greens to redesign the home, where they added their famous protruding beam-ends, balcony railings, and casement windows. The dining room features the Greene’s first use of Grueby tiles, which later became a design stable of the Greene Brothers.

The final alteration to the residence took place almost 20 years later, in 1926, when Henry Greene added a second-level garage for Thomas P. Smith Jr., who was the properties’ owner during that time.

One of the most striking aspects of the structure is the inner courtyard, which can be reached from the interior of the home via one of several French doors. Serving both aesthetic form and function, this breezy design typifies the California indoor/outdoor lifestyle.
The Pasadena Museum of History (Fenyes House and Studio)

7) The Pasadena Museum of History (Fenyes House and Studio)

The Fenyes Mansion crowns Pasadena’s famous Millionaires Row and offers a vastly different architectural style from neighboring homes. Now designated as a Pasadena Cultural Heritage Landmark, this Beaux Arts style home was designed by respected architect Robert Farquhar in 1906.

In 1911, architect Sylvanus Marston added a study, laboratory space, and solarium, completing the 10,162 square foot home.

The Fenyes Mansion has served many different functions throughout its hundred-year history. A onetime social hub of Pasadena’s elite, the home also served as the first Finnish Consulate in the Western United States, a location for many films, including those of D.W. Griffith, and is now part of the Pasadena Museum of History.

In 1970 Leonora Muse Curtin, daughter of original owners Adalbert and Eva enyes, donated the mansion complete with furniture, artwork, and gardens to the Pasadena Museum of History.
Image Courtesy of Pasadena Museum of History.

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