The Gamble House is one of many homes in Pasadena designed by the architectural brothers Greene and Greene. The home was built in 1908 for the Gamble family, who inherited their last name from the Gamble in “Procter and Gamble”. The home is one of the best examples of the architectural style characterized by the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 1800’s. I had not been previously exposed to the Arts and Crafts movement, but my impression is that it involves a lot of woodwork, craftsmanship, and attention to detail.
Individuals are free to walk around the home to examine its exterior, including the brick fountain, and the impressive brick driveway. You also have the opportunity to pay for a guided tour through the interior. My wife and I were excited to tour the interior, as we have developed a fondness for exploring old homes. My wife was also excited to see the house since it was Doc’s house from Back to the Future. That movie was pretty popular in her household growing up.
The tour begins at the front of the house in front of a large door with an impressive array of stained glass windows. Our tour guide rang the doorbell and another guide let us in. We were instructed not to touch anything inside the house. We would only be allowed to touch the hand rail on our way up the stairs to the second floor. Individuals are also not allowed to take pictures within the home (hence the predominance of exterior shots here). The tour guide also requested that we don’t stand over the edges of the rugs, since it will facilitate their eventual unraveling. I was so diligent about not stepping on the edge of the rugs that I felt uncomfortable when I saw other people do it.
The home is lit entirely with 16 watt light bulbs, which is the same intensity as 100 years ago. Our tour guide pointed out that they were uncertain about the potential health risks of artificial light in the same way that we are uncertain today about the potential health risks of cell phones. The tour guide used a flashlight to illuminate interesting and intricate wood patterns throughout the home. The tour guide also provided my first introduction to wood joints (e.g. the tongue and groove joint, and the dovetail joint) since high school shop class.
When you finish exploring the interior of the Gamble House you can take a twenty minute walk along the loop of impressive homes along Arroyo Terrace, N Grand Ave., and Live Oaks Ave.. You can find those streets on the map in the gift shop (if you are willing to part with some change). You can also find those nearby streets by looking at a map on a fancy new (potentially hazardous) cell phone.
You can follow up your trip to the Gamble House by visiting the nearby Norton Simon Museum (featured here).