With the Gamble House being only two stories, this doesn’t feel like a traditional upstairs/downstairs situation. The servants weren’t tucked away, never to be thought of or considered. Yes, most often Mary Gamble only used first names in her diary, so historians aren’t able to place all those in their service, but some were regarded fondly, like Ljuba Sirrolla of Croatia was the Gamble’s cook for over a decade—they signed her naturalization papers in 1924.
For the first time ever, Gamble House is opening the servants’ areas to the public, for two weeks only. The tour begins at the servants’ entrance at the side of the house where the doorbell rings once—to distinguish it from the primary front doorbell that rings twice, so the servant would know which door to open.
Gamble House was built in 1908-1909, during a new awareness of germs and concerns about sanitation. As such, tiles were used on the walls and linoleum on the floors in the kitchen, and ventilation and a myriad of windows can be seen throughout the home.
The Gamble’s employed only two full-time servants, a cook and a maid, though they had a weekly laundress, a day gardener, an occasional seamstress, and extra wait staff for their numerous dinners and parties.
The service space of the home is distinguished from the family space by materials. The services areas had maple and hardy sugar and Oregon pine…
while the family rooms were made with cedar, mahogany, and teak.
As already stated though, Gamble House is not on a scale like The Breakers or Marble House, built for the Vanderbilts in Newport, Rhode Island. This was originally David and Mary Gamble’s winter residence after he retired from Proctor & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio. The work of architects Charles and Henry Greene is painstakingly detailed even in the service areas, yet it’s also simple, gentle and unostentatious—the differences noticeable, but not flagrant. A working woman could do a lot worse than be employed by the Gamble family.
Upstairs Downstairs Tour of the Gamble House
August 1st-18th only
Tuesday, 12:15 p.m. & 12:45 p.m.
Thursdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (tour starts every half hour)
4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena 91103
Tickets: general, $20; children 12 and under, free
Purchase tickets here
For complete info, visit GambleHouse.org or call 626.793.3334