Heaven, Bungalow Style

Apr 11, 2016

bungalow heaven 007Sixteen blocks of quiet, tree-lined streets, gardens, and quaint, adorable, and lovely Arts and Crafts homes make up Bungalow Heaven, which are all waiting to be viewed and enjoyed during the 26th Annual Bungalow Heaven Tour on April 24.

Though Gamble House is the most famous example of Arts and Craft architecture in the area, Bungalow Heaven A&C homes, “illustrate the way ordinary families of the period lived.”

Bungalow Heaven Historic District has been listed by the U. S. Department of the Interior in the National Register of Historic Places and now is in the California Register of Historical Resources.

In 2009, Paul Farmer, who was Chief Executive Officer of the American Planning Association at the time, said, “Bungalow Heaven is truly remarkable in that there are more than a thousand historic homes in the neighborhood. Residents and the city are rightfully proud of this architectural legacy.”


Bungalow Heaven kit house built in 1924; photo by Petrea Burchard

Bungalow Heaven kit house built in 1924; photo by Petrea Burchard


At the beginning of the 20th century, “winter-weary mid-westerners” came to Pasadena for its weather and restorative resorts. Over time, news spread about the “hospitable climate” and people began to stay rather than visit.

The growing middle class fueled Pasadena’s expansion beyond its original extent (downtown or today’s Old Pasadena and south along the arroyo) into the orchards and ranch lands to the north and east. (

Also at this time, the Arts and Crafts Movement had arrived from the East Coast, though it was begun originally in England in late 1888, according to Bruce Goodman and Leisa Collins at

In October of 1888, a small group of English philosophers, artists and architects established the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, and thus named a maturing movement that would spread throughout England, Europe and America over the next few decades and effectively unite social reform, architecture, art and craftsmanship.

The Society exhibited at New Gallery in London during October and November of 1888, displaying tapestries, wallpapers, tiles, stained glass and other decorative arts. The crux of the Society’s mission was, as Walter Crane wrote in the Exhibition catalog, to “turn our artists into craftsmen and craftsmen into artists.”

The craftsman style ethics of the movement were based on the mid-1800s writings of social thinker John Ruskin, an artist and prominent English art critic.


John Ruskin, 1879

John Ruskin, 1879


Ruskins writings also predicted social issues concerning environmentalism, sustainability and craftsmanship. Concerned that people were being numbed by thoughtless consumption of mass produced objects and lost to the beauty and spirituality of handcrafting from natural materials, Ruskin appealed for a revival of traditional craftsmanship.

William Morris, often called the father of the English Arts and Crafts Movement, was a Ruskin admirer, a socialist and an artist skilled at a variety of crafts. He took Arts and Crafts style ideals to a more general level, calling for social and economic reform through an integration of labor and art in society that would bring beauty as well as affordability to everyday objects and advance virtues such as simplicity, utility, honesty and nature.

Morris’ belief that architecture and decorative arts should be simple, functional, constructed of local materials, and, above all, beautiful is summed up best in his own words: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

If William Morris was the father of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain, Gustav Stickley (1858-1942), a furniture manufacturer in New York, was the disciple who raised the banner in the United States. Stickley advocated Morris’ ideas in his magazine, The Craftsman, which he launched in 1901.


Gustav Stickley; photo from

Gustav Stickley; photo from


Stickley urged readers to build homes and craft furniture with their own hands using local materials, and he sold house plans, furniture and household objects by catalog.

The English antagonism toward industrialization was not as evident in America, where the machine was not an enemy but a tool with which to improve life, to reduce drudgery and produce simple, aesthetic, affordable homes and objects that were both decorative and useful. (




As we all know, Charles Sumner Greene and his brother Henry Mather Greene took the Arts and Craft style and bungalow architecture to “a whole nother” level and we celebrate that every day as we drive our streets and inhale the marvelous details of A&C architecture that we admire and desire—wide, wrapping porches, French windows, river rock and clinker brick.

According to, BH was…

part of a boom that saw Pasadena’s population more than quadruple between 1900 and 1920 (from 10,000 to 45,000). Trolley lines soon ran up Lake Avenue into the foothills and eastward along Washington and Villa.  A neighborhood was born.

And just so we pay homage to those who “created” Bungalow Heaven, saving this swath of distinctive, historical homes:

It took approximately four years and thousands of phone calls, hundreds of meetings, discussions and hearings, petition drives, canvassing and, according to bungalow homeowner Bob Kneisel, knocking on “the doors of the 962 lots in the proposed Bungalow Heaven Landmark District several times” for Bungalow Heaven in October 1989 to be granted Landmark District status.





2016 Bungalow Heaven Tour
Sunday, April 24th, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Mountain Ave., in between Lake and Hill Avenues
Tickets: $20, advance purchase; $25, day of event
Purchase tickets at Brown Paper Tickets
The BH trolley with 45-minute narrated tour: $10, 3 departure times
For complete details, visit


A fuzzy map of the area…






Source information from:

Photo, Bungalow Heaven sign, by Kafziel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


Photo by David,

Photo by David,





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