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Building Claremont: The early years (continued)

It is important to preserve our cultural heritage, because it maintains our integrity as a people. The importance of cultural heritage is not merely the manifestation of something built, but also the wealth of knowledge and skills that are transmitted through it from one generation to the next.

Culture is the outward display of our values and living attitudes. It often reflects heritage, but the two are not the same. Culture refers to the common ways of living and behaving practiced by a large group of people. The deliberate act of keeping cultural heritage from the present for the future is known as preservation or conservation.

This month we continue to explore the architects and buildings of the early years of Claremont that have contributed so greatly to the cultural heritage of the city.  

Greene and Greene

The historic Claremont neighborhood has many fine examples of Craftsman style homes. Although some are architect designed, the majority were designed from pattern books, by merchant builders or modeled after architect designed structures. However, the Pasadena- based architecture firm of Charles and Henry Greene did venture out to Claremont and designed one house in 1903, the Darling/Wright House, located at the corner of Eighth Street and College Avenue. The Craftsman bungalow features shingle siding, a low-peaked gable roof and multi-light windows.

Charles and Henry Green were born in Ohio, in 1868 and 1870, respectively. They grew up in West Virginia and St. Louis, Missouri and graduated from the Manual Training School of Washington University in St. Louis, where they studied metal and woodworking. They each received a certificate of completion for partial course, a special two-year program at MIT’s School of Architecture, in 1891. Their intent was to gain certification for apprenticeships with architecture and construction firms upon graduation. Both apprenticed with firms in Boston, and then moved to Pasadena in 1893, at their parents’ request,  who had moved there the year before.

The architectural firm of Greene and Greene was established in Pasadena in 1894. The Greenes developed their own personal take on the Arts and Crafts movement. By 1901, they began to develop the distinctive elements that became their ultimate bungalows.  Charles’ drawings for the 1903 Darling House in Claremont were published in England in Academy Architecture the same year, marking the first foreign publication of the firm’s work, bringing them notoriety. 

Their grand works came together as a cohesive whole from 1907 to 1909, which culminated in works such as the Blacker House, the Robinson House, the Thorsen House and the Gamble House, generally considered one of the finest examples of residential architecture in the United States.

Arthur Munson

Arthur Munson is forever tied to Claremont because of his affiliation with Bess and Herman Garner, who contributed to the political, philanthropic, business and cultural heritage of the city.

Commissioned first to build the Garner’s family home, it was constructed in the middle of what is now Memorial Park and is home to Claremont Heritage.  Built around a courtyard, the beautiful 5,000 square foot Spanish Revival style home had 15 rooms, was surrounded by citrus, and was one of the largest in town at the time.

The Vortox Building, constructed in 1928, is located just south of the railroad tracks at 121 S. Indian Hill, on the west side, at Santa Fe. After achieving success with the Garner House, Mr. Munson was commissioned by the Garners to design the Vortox Building as well. The Spanish Revival commercial building was once one of the first buildings travelers encountered when arriving in Claremont and is an outstanding example of a commercial building from the early history of Claremont.

Mr. Munson was born in Missouri in 1886 and grew-up in Kansas City. By 1917, he was residing in South Pasadena with his wife and later a son. He began a firm in Los Angeles with Allen Ruoff, a partnership that lasted until 1926. Among his works is another house in Claremont; the Brooks residence, 1922, on Bonita (now demolished); the Austin House in South Pasadena, 1923; and the Long Beach Theatre Project, 1920. 

Marston AND Mayberry

Built in 1930, the beautiful and iconic Padua Hills Theatre, located at 4467 Padua Ave., was designed by the revered Pasadena architectural firm of Marston and Maybury. No strangers to Claremont, Marston and Maybury also designed the Memorial Infirmary, 1930, located adjacent to the Bernard Field Station on Foothill (recently restored as the Robert Redford Conservancy), the now demolished Spanish Revival Claremont Library, and the Edmunds Union at Pomona College, among others.

The Padua Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Nine years ago, the theater underwent restoration and renovation. The theater is now a ballroom, but beneath the wood floor, the sloped theater and seating still exists. Keeping with secretary of the interior standards, no work was performed that can’t be reversed to restore the theater to its original condition and purpose.

Sylvanus Marston was born in Oakland, California in 1883. His father was a San Francisco architect and engineer. His family relocated to Pasadena in the 1890s, and he graduated from Pasadena High School in 1901. He attended Pomona College for two years and then received his degree in architecture from Cornell University.

Edgar Maybury was born in Minnesota in 1890 and lived in Pomona when he first arrived in California.  Mr. Maybury worked originally as the employee in charge of Reginald D. Johnson and Gordon B. Kaufmann’s architectural offices in Phoenix. He later returned to California where he and Mr. Marston partnered with Garret Van Pelt in 1922; however, that partnership was dissolved in 1927, and Mr. Van Pelt began an independent practice. The firm was responsible for and received outstanding recognition for hundreds of homes in and around Pasadena, along with numerous commercial projects.

Clearly, these architects have contributed to the cultural heritage of the city and helped to build Claremont into what it is today. Next month we will begin to explore mid-century and beyond architecture.