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William B. Tomkins House
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William B. Tomkins House
Pasadena, California

The Tompkins house was the first executed building designed by the Greenes to show a budding interest in the Arts and Crafts movement. The Tompkins house had a horizontal, site-hugging aspect unlike their earlier work. This was emphasized at each end of the long, open piazza by robust, load-bearing pillars edged with stone quoins and filled with a coat of pebble-dash. A naturalistic treatment of materials distinguished the house, in contrast to the painted surfaces of the Greenes' earlier, more traditionally detailed houses. The familiar device of the octagonal tower and roof was used, though more subtly employed to relieve the mass of the long, hipped roof of the central block. The interior was a Moorish fantasy of pointed arches and columns with broad, shallow capitals reminiscent of some of the Greenes’ academic sketches of exotic architectural orders. The eaves were deeper than any of those previously designed by the Greenes and the rafters protruded slightly beyond the eaves, prefiguring a highly recognizable design feature of their later work. Consciously or not, a shift towards craftsman design ideals began to emerge in the horizontal nature of the piazza, the expressed structure of the posts and brackets supporting the shingled upper level, and in the decision to leave the materials unpainted.