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William Thum House
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William Thum House
Pasadena, California

Henry Greene's only significant new commission of 1925 was the design and construction of the William Thum house. Thum was a chemist, who with his brothers had made a small fortune with the invention of a popular adhesive fly-paper called "Tanglefoot." He was also a former mayor of Pasadena and a close friend of Henry Greene and his family. As mayor, Thum had appointed Henry Greene--along with Fredrick Roehrig, Myron Hunt, and Elmer Grey--to develop Pasadena's first "code of building procedure." Mayor Thum was especially concerned with directing public works projects and assuring the smooth operation of the municipal utilities. As a result, he may have been more interested in the engineering aspects of his residence than in aesthetics. He wanted a house that performed exceptionally well as a fireproof shelter, both for his family and for his extensive library. According, the design of the house suggests a vault within a fireproof fortress. Nonetheless, Henry, in his subtly creative way, added decorative devices to add surface texture and visual interest. The materials and methods used on the portico of the Nathan Williams house of 1915 were repeated here in constructing a side porch of steel poles, wire screen, and Gunite, sprayed on in a pattern of perforations that resemble the tsuba shape and other decorative forms from the earlier, more classic Greene and Greene vocabulary.