Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Caldwell-Fairbank House


This home, just about the last of the grand homes that once lined Sierra Madre Boulevard (or, at that time, Central Avenue), is located on the same block where the Lawless House once stood.  Built in 1907 by architect Louis B. Easton, the home was featured in the March, 1908 edition of Gustav Stickley's Crafstman Magazine.  According to this piece on Easton, by architect Tim Anderson, the home was one of about twenty-five that Easton built between 1904 and 1914, in and around the Pasadena area.   

Easton's brother-in-law (his wife's older brother) was Elbert Hubbard, who founded the Roycroft community, and was one of the chief proponents of the Arts and Crafts movement.  While it is not certain how well the two knew one another, it would appear that Easton was influenced by his famous brother-in-law.  Easton, his wife, and their three children moved to Pasadena from outside of Chicago in 1902, as so many people did at that time, for health reasons. 

When Easton was hired by widow Louisa M. Caldwell and her daughter Lillian Fairbank, the foundation was already in place for a Queen Anne shingle home with a two-story octagonal tower, but the ladies had changed their minds.  Easton gave them a more simple home, removing things like formal entry halls and servants' stairs, and including a balcony that faced the mountains, an open floor plan, and the use of native materials.

By 1911, according to Andersen's article, Easton was so well-renowned that architect Myron Hunt hired him to design and build a home for him at Clifton-by-the-Sea, now known as Redondo Beach. (Building Myron Hunt's beach house would be a pretty big feather in an architect's cap!)

I wondered how long the home was occupied by those for whom it was originally built.  1910 census records indicate that 64 year-old Mrs. Caldwell was living in the home by herself, but by 1920 Mrs. Caldwell, Mrs. Fairbank, and her husband James were all living in the city of Los Angeles (with Mrs. Caldwell listed as head of household).  So it seems they didn't occupy the house for very long at all.

18 comments:

  1. Wow!!! Interesting!! I love arts and crafts era homes, furniture, everything!!! And a little side note...I used to live on Roycroft in Long Beach...never knew the history of the name!!! Thanks!!!

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    1. Wow, for sure! I know that street, and never even made the connection. Verrrrry interesting!

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  2. What a great home and those oranges. Aren't they fantastic!!!!! Interesting background so very nicely presented, Adele.

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  3. Crazy interesting post. There is a set of twins in the area referred to as the Easton twins. They're big in the horseless carriage movement. Relations maybe? and the Roycoft connection. I've heard the name but was unfamiliar with it's history. I need to have a conversation with Dr Google. Lastly, one of the big defenders of Garvanza in my section of LA put up some photos on FB Clifton by the Sea.

    What a serendipitous post this turned out to be

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    1. So much intertwinedness here (I made that word up. Hope you don't mind...). I wonder if the Easton twins are related to Louis? Really, not that much time has gone by, so I could see it. And isn't Roycroft interesting? Dr. Google seems to have much to offer. Did you know of Clifton-by-the-Sea previous to the Garvanza-Guy/Gal putting them up? I had never, ever heard of it as being anything but Redondo. I can't wait to get on The Google and try to find photos.

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  4. .....and don't you love coming across old orange trees that haven't lost their way?

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  5. Oh, I love a little mystery. I wonder why they moved?

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    1. I know - me too! Even more interesting, it looks like Mrs. Caldwell was a widow twice over at that point. The middle initial "G" in Mrs. Fairbank's name stood for Greene, which was her maiden name. The 1890 census is not available (due, I think, to a long-ago fire in the D.C. building where it was housed). This distresses me, because in 1880, she was the widowed Mrs. Greene (living in Tennessee), but by 1900 she was the widowed Mrs. Caldwell (living in Illinois). Then she was here by 1910. What happened?? I so wish I knew more about them...

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    1. I do too. We had a similar one in our yard that died a year or so ago. It was apparently getting too much water on one side and we came out one morning to find it just toppled over. It was so close to the front porch that you could stand on the porch and pick an orange. We miss it...

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  7. What do those folks do with all those oranges?

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    1. Good question. No clue. I'd be happy to help, though!

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  8. Like Margaret, I'm also intrigued, why the move? At any rate, love the sunny glow and those beautiful oranges!

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    1. I know. Especially when you've hired an architect to build a home to your specs...

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  9. It looks like a mountain chalet. Nice photo!

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    1. It does, doesn't it? Thank you, Linda!

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