( Above Photo: Gamble House )
Gamble House is one of the most famous houses in America, built in the Arts and Crafts style. It was commissioned for construction in Pasadena Los Angeles by David and Mary Gamble, founders of the Procter & Gamble Company.
The Gamble House Arts and Crafts project was actualized by Greene & Greene architects, and company operated by brothers Henry Mather Greene (1870-1954) and Charles Summer Greene (1868-1957).
Instead of the neoclassical style prevailing in early 20th century, the Greene Brothers used the unique Japanese style. In 1978, the Gamble House became a National Historic Landmark. Today, the University of Southern California operates it under the ownership of the City of Pasadena.
It has since been used as a movie set for various productions, including Back to the Future (1985), Back to the Future Pt. II (1990), Back to the 2015 Future (2015), The Gamble House (2017), The American Ambassador (2019), and Jay Leno’s Garage (2015).
Gamble House is one of the few architectural pieces of the early 20th century featuring the Arts and Crafts style. The Greene brothers designed and created the structure and all the furniture in it, giving attention to detail.
The idea of the house would never have arisen if Mary and David Gamble would never have left Ohio for the sun-drenched California in 1893. Like many other families looking for a warmer, cleaner, and healthier lifestyle, Mr. and Mrs. Gamble settled in Pasadena in Southern California.
Greene & Greene had set camp in this location and were building houses similar to Gamble House and calling them the ‘ultimate bungalows.’ Their house designs sought to align with the natural environment with a clear connection to the outdoors to take advantage of the warm climatic conditions.
Upon hiring Greene & Greene, Mr. and Mrs. Gamble insisted on plenty of sunshine and air circulation to promote healthy living. Greene & Greene worked with master woodworking brothers John and Peter Hall from Stockholm. They also roped in glass artisan Emil Lang to implement stained glass elements throughout the house.
The underlying philosophy of the design details was based on Japanese architecture, which Greene & Greene first encountered through the Ho-o-den Japanese Pavilion in Chicago, during a cross-country tour. Therefore, house is full of details borrowed from Japanese architecture.
You’ll notice elements such as precise joinery, overhanging eaves, scarf joints, and darkened mortars. The Greene brothers repeatedly use the Suba motif, which in Japanese refers to the protective plate situated between the handle and the blade on a samurai sword.
For an overtly traditional house, the Gamble House Arts and Crafts project was forward-looking and became one of the first properties to have a connection to the electric grid. It also had an intricate intercom system for the occupants to communicate with one another.
Besides being an iconic location for several film productions, Gamble House is a popular place to tour on your next visit in Southern California. You’ll behold impressive details in the Suba and cloud carvings, leather straps, semi-precious stones, ebony details, and shell inlays.
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