Visiting the Gamble House in Pasadena

Aside from visiting museums and cultural sites, one of my favorite things to do is to visit historic homes. Whether home in Los Angeles or traveling, I find preserved, historic homes to be true glimpses into the past, allowing you to immerse yourself in the time period.

On a sunny Thursday afternoon, I visited the amazing Gamble House in Pasadena, one of the best preserved and most beautiful examples of craftsman architecture in the country. The home represents the pinnacle of the American Arts & Crafts movement as interpreted by the movement’s leading architects, Greene and Greene, who were given almost limitless creative freedom and an equally unrestrained budget. The result is a masterpiece.

The Gamble House
The house, built in 1908, is preserved intact, along with most of the original furnishings and accessories, all custom designed and built especially for the home. The home was designed by legendary architects Greene and Greene and built for David and Mary Gamble, family members and heirs to the Proctor and Gamble soap fortune.

The home was hand-built mainly from wood by old-school craftsmen. There are large exposed beams and intricate wood carvings and joints. There are also strong Japanese themes and influences in the design and construction. The home was designed as a large, winter bungalow, to be used by the family to escape the cold Cincinnati winters.

The tour was great, led by a flashlight wielding docent, who walks the small groups of visitors through the house. You go room to room, and in each room the docent uses a flashlight to point out highlights. You walk through the living quarters, the family’s bedrooms, dining room, den and living room, also the servants areas, like the kitchen and pantry. You really get the feeling of what it must have been to live there.

The Gamble House is in Pasadena, only minutes from the 134 and 110 freeways and minutes from Old Town Pasadena, a renovated shopping and entertainment district. It makes a great day-trip for people like me who live in Los Angeles, but it’s also an interesting destination for visitors to Los Angeles. Visitors with rental cars can easily drive the 20 minutes from Hollywood, or can take the Gold Line train from Union Station for only $1.50.

Adult tickets are $10, seniors are $7 and kids under 12 are free. The hour-long tours are given every 20 minutes, Thursday-Sunday only. Visitors can also take a “Behind the velvet ropes” tour, a 2.5 hour extended tour for $40, and specialized “Details and Joinery” tour about the house’s woodworking and carpentry for $75, which can all be reserved on the home’s website. The museum also sponsors a lecture series.

Freddy Sherman is a world traveler and editor of the travel blog You can follow him on twitter, @thefredsherman

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