Greene & Greene Virtual Archives
Miss Cordelia A. Culbertson House
Pasadena, California, 1911-13
AboutSearchResourcesMy G&GHelpCopyrightReproductionSite IndexContact Us
Basic Search View Project List

Miss Cordelia A. Culbertson House
Pasadena, California

Commissioned by the three unmarried sisters of James Culbertson in 1911, the Cordelia Culbertson house in Pasadena's fashionable Oak Knoll district was the largest commission received by the firm at that time, at just over $150,000. Situated across the street from the Robert R. Blacker house, the Culbertson house, with its light-colored Gunite finish, green-tiled roof, and single-story silhouette, it stands in stark contrast to its visually more massive, dark-shingled neighbor. The clients, Cordelia, (the eldest sister and the official client on record) Kate and Margaret, wanted all the rooms on one level, and the bedrooms on an upper level. The problem was solved by locating the bedroom wing on the brink of a small canyon overlooking the water gardens on the wooded slope below.

The Greenes returned to the courtyard plan, wrapping the principal rooms around a central garden courtyard. The formal entry hall, luxurious wall finishes of sculptured plaster, velour fabric, and exotic marble, all set off by dark angular wood furniture designed by Charles Greene, lent an urbane elegance to the interior. Inside and out, Chinese and Classical motifs appear, while the water gardens evoke Italian precedents. By 1917, the Culbertson sisters could no longer afford the upkeep and sold the property. The new owner, Mrs. Dudley P. Allen of Cleveland, Ohio, (soon remarried as Mrs. Francis Fleury Prentiss) continued to commission work from the Greenes, most notably Charles Greene, who painted five scenic panels in the entrance hall, and designed additional furnishings. Elisabeth Prentiss also commissioned from Henry Greene a lath house and other garden-related work, including a planting plan for a new lot that she had annexed to her property. These commissions, most of them for minor alterations and repairs, continued into the late 1930s.