Every December, more than a million people will find their way to Pasadena: for the Rose Parade, the Rose Bowl, Christmas shopping and Paula Deen head-scratching. Whether you’re a visitor looking to get off the beaten float-viewing path or a local who wants to escape the hoopla, consider taking one or more of these strolls through some of Pasadena’s most architecturally significant residential neighborhoods.
Southwest Pasadena & South Pasadena
Filled with glorious homes both modest and grand, Southwest Pasadena and South Pasadena make for superb strolling territory. The stately trees, street-facing gardens and shaded porches evoke a timeless sense of the American neighborhood. Of particular note are the Oaklawn Portals, designed by Greene & Greene in 1905. Walk through the portals and follow broad Oaklawn Avenue to the Oaklawn Bridge and Waiting Station, another Greene & Greene project—and their only bridge—designed to link the Oaklawn housing development to bustling Fair Oaks Avenue. If you begin this walk on Orange Grove, near the genesis of the Rose Parade, be sure to wander the side streets, such as Markham and Wigmore.
Oaklawn Portals (1905), Oaklawn Bridge (1906), Oaklawn Waiting Station
Oaklawn Avenue south of Columbia, South Pasadena
Designed by Charles and Henry Greene, this bridge was one of America’s first to be made of reinforced concrete. The Greenes also laid out the street and designed its wall and portal gates.
Longley House (late 1897)
1005 Buena Vista St., South Pasadena
Displaying a mixture of architectural styles, this house is believed to be the earliest standing structure by Greene & Greene.
Garfield House (1904)
1001 Buena Vista St., South Pasadena
Charles and Henry Greene built this house for Lucretia Garfield, the widow of President James Garfield, who served for only four months before being assassinated.
324 Madeline Dr., Pasadena
You can view this campus from the gates of this private girls’ school on Madeline Drive, and you can also see several of its contemporary and Arts & Crafts-era buildings along Orange Grove or State Street. Sylvanus Marston, Whit Smith and the Greene brothers are all represented on the campus.
Blankenhorn Lamphear House (1893)
346 Markham Pl., Pasadena
This house is one of Pasadena’s finest examples of the Queen Anne style, the most romantic and fanciful of the Victorian era’s architectural idioms.
N – Markham/Bradford
S – Buena Vista St.
E – Fair Oaks Ave.
W – Orange Grove Blvd.
Pasadena’s Oak Knoll began life before the turn of the 20th century as an estate region. Today, many of the original homes remain, though some, such as the Greene & Greene masterpiece the Blacker House, no longer have the extensive grounds they once claimed. Because homes were built in succeeding decades in various revival styles, the neighborhood boasts a wonderful architectural diversity. The world-famous Huntington Hotel, now known as the Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa, makes Oak Knoll a destination for many visitors. The brothers Greene, Arthur and Alfred Heineman, Sylvanus Marston and Wallace Neff are all represented in this glorious area, which was designed to showcase its lovely native oaks. If you make your way south and east to Los Robles Avenue, you’ll see the experimental, post-war Wallace Neff Dome House, quite unusual for Pasadena.
Langham Huntington Hotel (1906, rebuilt in 1991)
1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave.
Opened as the Hotel Wentworth in 1907, the hotel failed and was purchased by tycoon Henry Huntington, who had it redesigned by Myron Hunt; it reopened as a resort destination in 1914 and came to represent the good life in Pasadena. Don’t miss the painted covered bridge and the gardens, and have lunch by the pool if you can.
Blacker House (1907)
1177 Hillcrest Ave.
Considered, along with the Gamble House, to be Greene & Greene’s crowning achievement, Blacker House has withstood the ravages of time and inconsistent maintenance and is now in the hands of private owners who have restored it with pristine attention. A treasure.
1330 Hillcrest Ave.
Arthur S. Heineman designed this whimsical Craftsman. The designer of the first motor hotel, he is said to have coined the term “motel” for motor hotel.
1097 S. Los Robles Ave.
Wallace Neff began experimenting with concrete structures in 1941. This 1946 example of his “bubble” construction was a part of his ongoing interest in building affordable housing. Another Neff house, done in a much more traditional Spanish Revival style, is found at 1290 Hillcrest Avenue.
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N – Oak Knoll Circle
S – Old Mill Road
E – Hillcrest Ave.
W – Los Robles Ave.
This area, designed as a housing development in 1906, boasts Sylvanus Marston clinker-brick portals on Orange Grove at Prospect Boulevard. Mature camphor trees create a shady arch over the wide, lovely boulevard as you enter from Orange Grove. You will find Frank Lloyd Wright’s La Miniatura in this neighborhood, as well as the extraordinary Gamble House and, on Arroyo Terrace, a spectacular collection of Greene & Greene houses.
Charles Sumner Greene House (1901)
368 Arroyo Terrace
Amid a cluster of Greene & Greene homes is Charles Greene’s own Craftsman dwelling, to which he made several additions over the years. Just next door, at 370 Arroyo Terrace, is the home built for Martha, Violet and Jane White, sisters-in-law to the brothers Greene.
Neighborhood Church (1972)
1 Westmoreland Pl.
Designed by Whitney Smith, this active, community-minded Unitarian church blends seamlessly into the neighborhood; it is a particularly discreet presence near its distinguished neighbor, the Gamble House.
Gamble House (1908)
4 Westmoreland Pl.
Built for David and Mary Gamble of Proctor & Gamble fame, this home by Charles and Henry Greene is as much famed for its perfectly executed functional interiors as its quietly gracious exterior, which is so beautifully sited on the property. The Greene brothers also designed its furnishings. Make sure to take the tour.
Cole House (1906)
2 Westmoreland Pl.
This Greene & Greene home was under construction when the Gambles were considering their property purchase, and is thought to have influenced them to buy the neighboring property and hire Charles and Henry Greene to design their home.
Alice Millard House (La Miniatura) (1923)
645 Prospect Crescent
Concrete-block construction (perfected in later Wright projects, such as the Ennis House) distinguishes this home, which was built for Alice Millard after the death of her husband, rare-book dealer George Millard. Alice was a rare repeat customer of the irascible Wright, and though the house was plagued by difficulties during construction and remains plagued by problems (like a leaky roof) today, its Mayan-influenced design is acclaimed by many as one of the architect’s most interesting residential works.
Hindry House (1909)
781 Prospect Blvd.
The Heineman brothers, Arthur and Alfred, designed this elaborate home without benefit of formal architectural training. A sketch for the entry hall’s dramatic stone fireplace is known to appear in a notebook belonging to Charles Greene, but it was not built to his specifications. The house is now on the market.
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N –Westgate St.
S – Holly St.
E – Orange Grove Blvd.
W – Arroyo Blvd.
Lower Arroyo Seco & San Rafael
This pastoral residential area has retained many of its lovely homes, though the elaborate and fanciful Busch Gardens closed in 1937, its 30 acres subdivided and developed with California ranch houses. The famed “Millionaire’s Row” on Orange Grove has given way to meticulously maintained condominium complexes, but just to the west, the many stately homes on Grand Avenue are well worth a walking tour. Start on the north end of Grand, at Green Street, walk south to Arbor Street, head west down Arbor and then left (south) on Arroyo Boulevard. Arbor is a steep slope, so some may prefer to drive down the hill before getting back on foot to see the many Arts & Crafts homes along the Arroyo. To get to the San Rafael area, drive across the pretty La Loma Bridge at Arroyo and La Loma. Because the grandest of San Rafael’s homes are, for the most part, hidden behind gates and long driveways, it’s best to drive through the area with only occasional stops. The brilliant landscaping visible from the street inspires all home gardeners. On your way out of San Rafael, detour south on Avenue 64 to see the Church of the Angels.
Colorado Street Bridge (1912-1913)
Pasadenans love this graceful, curving bridge made of reinforced concrete, and they supported its restoration in the 1990s. The almost-1,500-foot span connects Old Pasadena to the San Rafael hills and Eagle Rock.
Vista del Arroyo Hotel (1920)
125 S. Grand Ave.
This Sylvanus Marston-designed resort hotel was taken over by the federal government in the 1940s for use as a military hospital and is now the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
La Casita del Arroyo (1933)
177 S. Arroyo Blvd.
This modest structure, designed by Myron Hunt at no charge, was built using Arroyo stone and lumber from bicycle tracks built at the Rose Bowl for the 1932 Olympics. Today it is owned by the city and is rented out for parties and weddings.
Batchelder House (1909)
626 S. Arroyo Blvd.
Ernest Batchelder was a famed artisan, producing decorative tiles that became emblematic of the Arts & Crafts movement. Batchelder’s kiln remains in the backyard of this lovely home, and the discerning viewer can see examples of his tile work from the street.
Pergola House (1910)
1025 S. Arroyo Blvd.
Remnants of Busch Gardens are incorporated into a home built considerably later.
Wrigley Mansion (1911)
391 S. Orange Grove Ave.
Now known officially as Tournament House, this ornate mansion built for chewing-gum mogul William Wrigley is now home to Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses.
Perkins House (1955)
1540 Poppy Peak Dr.
Sited above street level, this small Richard Neutra home is modest, but it’s all about the expansive view from inside the house.
Church of the Angels (1889)
1100 Ave. 64
British architect Arthur Edmund Street designed this beautiful church as a memorial to Alexander Campbell-Johnston, the developer of Rancho San Rafael.
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N – Green St.
S – Congress St.
E – Orange Grove Blvd.
W – Poppy Peak Dr.