An Inside Look at the Gamble House As It Celebrates 50 Years As a Museum

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By BRANDON VILLALOVOS | Photography by ALEX VERTIKOFF

5:37 pm | September 20, 2016


It’s synonymous with the character of Pasadena. The Gamble House, a living, untouched example of the Arts and Crafts Style, is celebrating 50-years since its owners donated the landmark estate for preservation.

Tonight, guests will celebrate at a party on the grounds and preview a new documentary about the House produced by longtime Disney producer Donald Hahn (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, more).

Then on September 25, The Gamble House will host a public party with $1 tours, food and entertainment for all. The turn-of-the-century estate represented one of the finest examples the Arts and Crafts Movement when completed and lives as a historic landmark to this day.

“There’s no way that this house could be truly reproduced today. It’s not for lack of the craftsmen. It’s the materials that existed 120 years ago are simply not available today. That’s what really makes this a special place and so important to conserve exactly as it is,” says Gamble House Director, Ted Bosley.

Architects Charles and Henry Greene created the Gamble House in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble of Ohio as a winter residence for the heirs to the Proctor and Gamble household products fortune. The 8,000 square foot house took ten months to build for approximately $50,000 at the time.

“It was really on the high end at that time,” said Bosley. “What Charles and Henry Greene brought to this place was a very personal expression of their ideal in building and design.”

The house would remain under ownership of the Gambles until the surviving members of the family deeded the house to the city of Pasadena in a joint agreement with the University of Southern California School of Architecture in 1966 after realizing the artistic importance of the house as a surviving example of Greene and Greene, according to the Gamble House website.

“There is so much detail and so much care focused on every corner of this house that it’s the kind of place that rewards repeat visits. It’s a very personal expression of architecture. It was a total work of art,” said Gamble House Director Ted Bosley.

The Gamble family donated the home and all the furnishings along with it, as they were originally crafted for the project.

“It’s the only Greene and Green house that remains today with all of its furnishings,” explained Bosley. ‘What’s really remarkable is that more than one hundred years later we have just about exactly what the Gambles walked into in 1909.”

The unique details that are appreciated not only for the complexity of its time, but also for the originality it presents, are seen in every square inch of the property.

“The way the wood is chosen for function and the decorative woods that are used—all of those are expressed very distinctly. It really does end up being a total work of art, a symphony of wood,” said Bosley.

Greene and Greene implemented their personal style that was both functional and modern and almost entirely comprised of wood.

“The architects felt that it was important to let natural materials speak in their own language—to show their natural characteristics,” said Bosley who explained that the wood was only treated with light finishes and never painted.

The house features many kinds of wood including Douglas fir for the structure; Burmese teak in the entry hall and the living room, the kitchen boasts maple wood and sugar pine countertops, Honduran mahogany in the dining room and California redwood panels in the living room.

“Thoughtful details like that were always in the minds of the architects as they were designing these rooms and choosing the woods that were most appropriate for the various functions,” said Bosley.

The Gamble House was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1978 and has since become a premier historic site in the nation. It is open to the public and also offers specialty tours and programs.

The 50th Anniversary public celebration kicks off Sunday, September 25th from noon to 4 p.m. at the Gamble House at Number-4 Westmoreland Place. Tickets are available first come; first serve on site the day of the event.

For more information and a complete schedule of additional Gamble House 50th Anniversary events throughout the week, visit http://gamblehouse.org/50th.