Now that spring is rolling in, it’s time to pull out your walking shoes and hit the streets for a weekend walk. This is the first in a series of walks and hikes around the Pasadena area adapted from Hometown Pasadena — we’ll be posting one a weekend for the next couple of months. So the next nice day (which will be tomorrow) why not grab a dog, friend or spouse and take a walk? This one focuses on the architecture and grand homes of Oak Knoll.
Pasadena’s Oak Knoll neighborhood 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 Langham 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.
We’d suggest parking your car on Hillcrest near Oak Knoll and setting off on foot to explore Hillcrest, Wentworth and Pinehurst. 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. Then walk back to Oak Knoll Avenue and end your outing with a stroll around the Huntington — preferably concluding with lunch out by the pool.
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.
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.