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Makinson on Greene & Greene

The Gamble House

THE STRIPPING OF THE ROBERT R. Blacker House was a bleak moment for the Pasadena Heritage Foundation, whose founder Claire Bogaard still bristles with outrage when she recalls that nothing could be done to halt the highly-publicized dismantling in 1985.
“The house’s former owner gutted the house of its fixtures and fittings, built-ins, light fixtures and so on, even after it had been designated a historic monument,” she says. “Many of those items were sold off and are now in private homes.”
Current owners Harvey and Ellen Knell have completed a massive restoration of the 1907 Greene and Greene landmark, which they purchased nearly four years ago. With an eye to recreating as authentically as possible the original appearance of the house, the Knells have worked in consultation with Greene and Greene authority and former Gamble House director Randell Makinson.
In addition to the missing light fixtures, the Knells were faced with the deterioration of the entire structure due to deferred maintenance, says current Gamble House director Ted Bosley. “Some minor alterations have been made to accommodate life in the 1990s versus 1907, but these few changes have been made with great sympathy for the architects’ original intent,” he says.
The Blacker House will be open for self-guided public tours during three three-day weekends in October: Oct. 2-4, Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 16-18. The tours, which are organized by the Gamble House to benefit its programs, will showcase the careful restoration of this 12,000-square-foot masterwork of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. General admission is $25 per person; for information, call Bobbi Mapstone at the Gamble House, (626) 793-3334.

photographs © A. Vertikoff, 1997, Courtesy of the Gamble House

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