Tuesday, January 29, 2013
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.