Art, Architecture and History Collide During Pasadena's Craftsman Weekend

Five days of tours and event begin today

Published : Thursday, November 8, 2018 | 6:11 AM

Pasadena Heritage is about to kick off its annual celebration of the architecture and spirit of the American Craftsman movement, which heavily influenced the Pasadena we know today.

The increasingly robust Craftsman Weekend, with events taking place Thursday through Monday, is now in its 27th year, said Pasadena Heritage Education Director Patty Judy. By many accounts, the revival of the architectural period has lasted longer than the period itself, which dawned in the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century and waned less than two decades later.

The unique architectural style focuses on handcrafted elements which display tradesmanship. Homes built in the style can be seen throughout the city.

Pasadena Heritage’s tribute includes bus tours, walking tours and demonstrations, coupled with an arts and crafts fair at the Pasadena Convention Center Saturday and Sunday.  (There is also a separate Arts & Crafts Show, not hosted by Pasadena Heritage, which is at the Pasadena Hilton on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.)

“I would say that the popularity of it has to do with the simplicity of it, really. Craftsman architecture was for the common man, so to speak,” Judy said.

“Of course, we have these grand homes for the very wealthy people like the Gambles and the Blackers, who had marvelous huge bungalows, but then you have places like Bungalow Heaven, where there are a thousand small two-, three-, four- bedroom homes that were for the working class people made with natural materials that are come from the earth.”

The movement was about “a celebration of the craftsmanship,” she said. “The craftsmanship that they put into the home, with the visible joinery and the straight lines and the use of wood and stone and brick. It really appeals to people and also reminds people who are of our generation of their grandmothers’ homes.”

Two homes designed by the famed Pasadena architects Greene and Greene will be a part of the tour during the Craftsman Weekend, Judy said. “I don’t know that we’ve ever had two Greene and Greenes on a tour before.”

But the weekend will feature additional topics as well, such as the Asian influence on Pasadena architecture, she said.

The Craftsman Movement, also known as the American Arts and Crafts Movement, originated in England in the mid- to late-19th century before making its way to the U.S., Pasadena Heritage Historic Architect Bill Ellinger said.

In many ways, it was a reaction to the industrial revolution, he said. “An effort to go back to things that were handmade.”

“The mass production by machines (was what) the sort of folks that were recognized as pioneers in what came to be called the Arts and Crafts Movement were rebelling against,” Ellinger said.

And while the influence is especially noticeable in Pasadena, the movement spread much farther, he added.

“There is a great concentration of evidence from that period of the Craftsman style here in California, but there’s hardly any city, no matter how small, across the entire American West, and also further East, that does not have evidence of the stylistic influences that derive from the Arts and Crafts movement.”

More information on Craftsman Weekend, as well as tickets, are available online at pasadenaheritage.org/craftsmanweekend.

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