L.A. may be a haven for midcentury modern, but before the minimalist architecture of Richard Neutra and Josef Van der Kar formed clean lines around the city, Pasadena was heralding a simplicity in which exposed beams, built-ins and handmade accents reigned. For a time, the Craftsman home’s rich wood paneling, deep porches and chimneys made of river stone pulled straight from the Arroyo Seco became the hallmark of L.A. housing, and this weekend, you'll be able to step inside some of the world's most famous examples of the style.
From October 26 to 29, this year’s Pasadena Heritage Craftsman Weekend opens some of the most-studied homes, notably the Gamble and Blacker houses, heralded as a few of the finest Craftsmen ever built.
Jack and Jim Ipekjian, the father-and-son team responsible for the painstaking restoration of the stunning Greene & Greene–designed Blacker House, act as docents in the home, plus open their workshop to the public. There are walking tours of Bungalow Heaven and the neighboring Arroyo Terrace, another bungalow hotbed, as well as Arts and Crafts workshops where you can try your hand at embroidering and painting fabric. For food lovers, don't miss a seminar on the Craftsman kitchen, and for those looking to pay their respects, make sure you're on the event's first-ever cemetery tour of San Gabriel Cemetery, where some of the movement's most pivotal designers are now buried.
You’ll find few spires and curved entryways in Pasadena’s 16-block neighborhood of Bungalow Heaven, where Craftsman design sprung up in opposition to Victorian architecture, and where you'll be able to peek inside a few of its homes. It’s one of the world’s most-concentrated pockets of the style, which turned its back on the industrial age—and turned its face toward nature—by utilizing all-natural materials and celebrating handicraft over factory-made components. Now, Pasadena’s historic American Craftsmen are inviting you in, up wide front steps, through redwood doors and past stained-glass windows, to experience the Arts and Crafts movement.
“That particular style of architecture became popular from about 1900 to 1915, maybe a little beyond that, before that sort of Mediterranean style took over,” says Patty Judy, director of education for the nonprofit Pasadena Heritage.
The appeal of those 15 years has endured; now in its 26th year, Craftsman Weekend draws repeat guests from across the U.S. “We joke that Craftsman Weekend has now gone on for longer than the actual period of architecture,” says Judy, who oversees the event.
Find the full schedule online through the events calendar, and be sure to buy your tickets in advance—tour space is limited, and some are already selling out. Then on Saturday and Sunday, be sure to peruse the event’s marketplace, where all goods are either of the era or inspired by it, to bring a bit of the ethos into your home with ceramics, glasswork and other crafts tied to the land.
“It’s almost more of a life philosophy to own and appreciate Craftsman architecture,” says Judy, “the idea of simplicity, craftsmanship—all relating to nature.”
Pasadena Heritage’s 26th annual Craftsman Weekend runs Thursday, October 26, through Sunday, October 29.