Monday, February 18, 2013

The Gamble House

Pasadena's Arts and Crafts Masterpiece

The Gamble House

Between 1900 and 1910 Southern California suddenly became a very desirable destination for wealthy midwesterners to spend the winter. With first class pullman rail service from Chicago to make the trip safe, swift and comfortable, they could come and enjoy California's sunshine, citrus and beaches. Arriving in November and staying until April they could simply pretend that the winters back home did not exist.

With few residents LA County enjoyed lots of open space, lush foliage and crystalline air.

For many the migration became an annual ritual. When they departed at the end of "the season" they left a standing reservation for the next. They stayed at such exclusive resorts as Frank Miller's stunning Mission Inn nestled among Riverside's fragrant orange groves or at Pasadena's elegant Huntington. 

After a few seasons, many concluded it was time to build a second home, or perhaps simply retire and live year round in Southern California.

As a result by 1910 the permanent population of Los Angeles County had swelled to 500,000. LA's image and cachet (as the first motion picture studios began filming in Hollywood) now positioned it to begin a meteoric explosion in population.

It was a magic place to be at a truly magic time.

The Southern California land rush was on.

Pasadena became the epicenter of the "City Beautiful" movement and the birthplace of a new California style of architecture that would become known as "California Arts and Crafts". The pioneers of this style were the Brothers Greene.

Charles and Henry Greene were born near Cincinnati and grew up in St. Louis. Their father was a homeopathic physician who stressed the curative values of natural light and fresh air. The brothers completed 2 year architectural training courses at MIT and worked in a variety of architectural offices in Boston.

In 1893, at the request of their parents, they moved to Pasadena California. On the way they stopped in Chicago to see the 1893 Worlds Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. It is believed that the Japanese exposition at the fair had a profound impact on them.

Once in California in 1894 they established their architectural practice and began developing a holistic style they referred to as "Ultimate Bungalow".

In 1895 David Berry Gamble, heir to the Proctor and Gamble Company in Cincinnati, retired.

In 1907, the Gambles after wintering in Pasadena for many years decided to build a home and selected a site. At some point they hired Greene and Greene to design the new residence. Perhaps they met the Greene's while they were overseeing construction of the nearby Cole House.

Together a perfect client, the right architects, and a superb set of builders and craftsman produced one of California's most splendid homes.

An Example of the "Cloud" Motif Used Throughout the Home

The Entry Lobby
(Took This Through a Window, Alas No Photography is Allowed Inside)

Gutters and Downspouts

A View From the Back of the Home

Slip Joint Fasteners
(Although Built to Include Telephones, Electric Lights and Power, it was Built Without Power Tools) 

One of its Much Copied Light Fixtures

We arrived about 40 minutes before the bookstore opened (where tour tickets are sold.) That gave us time to walk around the house and photograph it. Once the bookstore (in the detached garage) opened tickets for the first five tours sold out almost immediately.

The Bookstore (gift shop) is actually quite good with high quality items at fair prices. Great place to secure a holiday gift for anyone with an interest in architecture.

The home is owned by the City of Pasadena with tours operated by USC (two lucky USC architecture students are allowed to live in the home). Consult the website for special events.

A glimpse into a Southern California we can only now imagine.

Roadboy's Travels © 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Angels in an Airport

Mecklenburg County's MEDIC 

I witnessed a miracle this afternoon at gate C11 in Charlotte's Douglas airport.

Awaiting a connecting flight to Baltimore my travel stupor was broken by a shout for help. A look over my shoulder revealed a young man on the floor convulsing wildly. His Sbarro lunch on the floor where it fell when he slid off his chair.

I felt helpless. Although CPR certified this was clearly something else. It looked like the diabetic seizures my father used to suffer.

The young man's color was all wrong and getting worse, his eyes were rolled up in his head.

I found myself doing the only thing I could. I prayed. 

I prayed as intensely as I've ever prayed before. And, as I looked around it was clear many fervent prayers were being offered at gate C11.

As if in answer to our prayers, a calm well dressed women (perhaps a physician or an RN) stepped in and began clearing a space around the victim. She placed something soft placed between his rocking head and nearby steel chair legs. Almost as quickly she was joined by another traveler complete with a tiny baby on her back. Together they attended the young man who (I could not help thinking) was about the same age as my son.

Within 2 minutes the first paramedic arrived and I noticed his arm patch. He was a member of Mecklenburg County's elite MEDIC team. I knew the convulsing young man was in very good hands.

Coincidentally I have worked with MEDIC and in the past have told friends "if one is ever to get sick, pray it is in Charlotte". But until I saw the patch I had not made the connection that it would be MEDIC staff responding at the airport.

They attended to him and administered oxygen. The convulsing soon stopped. His color returning. Now there were two additional MEDIC staffers assisting. They smiled gently and comforted the young man, asking if there was anyone traveling with him and if he had suffered seizures before. Clearly he was uncomfortable realizing that everyone at Gate C11 was concerned.

I wanted to take a photograph of MEDIC staff in action, but I decided not to. It just seemed like it was important to protect the self esteem of the victim. I also worried that use of the photo might be perverted by some opportunistic lawyer. To my lawyer friends (you know who you are) whom I know to be filled with incredible integrity, my apologies.

My flight was called.

The well dressed woman collected her laptop and joined us on the Baltimore flight. I was quite glad knowing she was on our flight.

Medical emergencies happen everywhere every day. But, in Charlotte, paramedics arrive much faster than almost anywhere else in the country. This is due to MEDIC's reliance on a computer model to anticipate demand and deploy staff accordingly. And when MEDIC paramedics arrive they will be superbly skilled as they use advanced simulators and cadavers in their training.

I work with first-responders everyday. It is not often I get to see the people I design buildings for in action. Today, as if answering my prayer, I did.

Roadboy's Travel © 2013