Sunday, May 1, 2011

Los Angeles, the final chapter

The last few days of my trip in LA were a little more understated.  What's amazing, in the end, is that I did get to do/see all of the things in my geeky Future-Architect wishlist.
The Gamble House
Thursday morning Mary and I went to the Gamble House out in Pasadena, designed by Charles and Henry Greene in 1908.  The website suggested you get there when the bookstore opens (10AM) to be sure to get a ticket for the first tour of the day (noon).  It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people do this, because if they write for you to get there that early, a certain kind of person (me) will get there then and the thing will sell out.  If they had told me to come at 11 I could have been just as happy being only 1 hour early for the tour as I was with 2.  But anyway, our 2 hours of free time in the neighborhood gave us a chance to explore.  Like my nearby Oak Park, IL, which is full of Frank Lloyd Wright houses, this neighborhood was stocked with Greene & Greene houses, so we bought a walking map at the bookstore and set off to waste some time.
Clinker bricks on a garden wall
            Mary and I quickly became obsessed with clinker bricks, which is the name for misshapen bricks that are set too close to the heat source in the kiln.  Most people throw these out, but the Greenes used them to make more interesting designs (if you can call it that) and textures in their brick walls/walks.
from berkeley archives
            The tour of the Gamble house was a great treat because it still has most of its original furniture, having never been sold out of the family.  That's especially interesting for an arts and crafts house of this kind because most of the furniture was built specifically for this house.  Even the upright piano's case (the wood part that we all see of the piano) was designed by the Greenes, built by the Hall Brothers (who did most of the woodworking for the Gamble house), then sent to the Baldwin piano company in Ohio to be filled with all the pertinent piano parts.
            After our tour, Mary and I headed into downtown Pasadena to have a lovely lunch at the Scarlet Tea Room, then in the afternoon we went into Hollywood to take pictures (with all the other tourists) of celebrity handprints in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.
The Hollyhock House
            On Friday morning, Mary and I made the short walk (hike, really) from her place to the Hollyhock House, on the top of the hill in Barnsdall Park.  I've seen a number of Frank Lloyd Wright houses now, but this one was definitely different from all the others I've seen, even Taliesin West.  He did a few homes in Hollywood in the 1920's.  Unlike the Gamble House, which we had been spoiled with, it has very little of its original furnishings and has gone through a series of remodels, because it's been used for a number of different (mostly public) uses in its 90 year history.
            I'm proud to say that I exposed Mary to a number of things that she, as a 4 year Los Angeles resident, hadn't gotten to see before.  But I do wish I had had some more time to spend out there because it's such a huge city; I know I only got a small taste of it. Hopefully I'll get out there again soon, because I already have a new list forming of other things I'd like to check out!

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