Lessons Learned: Living at the Gamble House

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As All Hallows Eve approaches, I vividly remember a home where I once lived. A home some might say is haunted. In the 1940’s Aunt Julia passed away in Pasadena’s Gamble House and it is rumored Aunt Julia watches over it. After living there for a year, I would not disagree.

I recall the time my friend Luisa slept in the master bedroom of the house. She lasted less than an hour before running to my bedroom. She slept there for the next 12 days and I moved into a sleeping bag on the floor. 17 years later, we still talk about Aunt Julia’s presence.

Scholar's Private Hall

Scholar's Private Hall

I was more scared one evening when a heavy rain storm set off the fire alarm and in less than five minutes two engine trucks showed up on the front driveway. At 3am I welcomed about thirty firemen into the house. Most evenings I worked on my school projects in the basement. Sometimes the faucet in the powder room would turn on by itself. You could blame the aged plumbing, but I’m not sure the explanation is that simple.

Many celebrated lecturers for USC occasionally stayed at the House. This meant we got to enjoy great conversations over breakfast in pajamas. However, setting up all the leaves for the dining table and having Thanksgiving dinner with my family and closest friends in the formal dining room will remain the warmest memory of my year at the Gamble House.

The “Ultimate Craftsman Bungalow” was designed and built in Pasadena from 1907 to 1909 by architects Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene for the Gamble Family. I am most grateful for the daily first-hand exploration of the incredible design throughout the house. It was a privilege to see the Eastern morning sun glowing through the entry door. The architects designed the structure, furniture, light fixtures, woven rugs, leaded Tiffany glass details and landscaping. The home remains a complete living work of art as stunning today as when it was first built. My fellowship was 17 years ago, yet the lessons I learned from my time at the Gamble House remain with me every day. The experience led me to pursue a very rewarding career in the custom single-family residential field, to purchase and restore of a 1912 bungalow with my husband Jarod, and to accept a seat on my local HPOZ board.

Front Door

Front Door

In 1966 the Gamble Family decided to make the House a joint gift to USC and the City of Pasadena. USC now cares for the home and the City of Pasadena tends to the grounds. In an effort to protect the home, USC’s Randell Mackinson proposed a Scholar in Residence Fellowship, allowing two senior year USC architecture students to reside in the servant’s quarters. These scholars watch over the home and assist in organizing a wide variety of events. During the day this historic home is open for touring, but in the evening it transforms into a warm, living home. Ted Bosley, director of The Gamble House since 1992, continues heroic efforts to raise funds for preservation. If you are curious about how you can become a member, please visit The Friends of the Gamble House at http://gamblehouse.org/membership/. 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Scholars in Residence Fellowship. The Gamble House was home for the Gamble Family, but also home to a few lucky SIR scholars…and of course, Aunt Julia.

Sketch of the Gamble House by Carolina 

Sketch of the Gamble House by Carolina 

Carolina Allen and Ted Bosley

Carolina Allen and Ted Bosley