Where Northern California prides itself on its Victorian architecture, major construction didn’t get underway quite as fast in the southern part of the state. Here many of the rich residents, such as the Gambles (of “Procter &” fame), built homes in the early 20th century.
The Gamble House (4 Westmoreland Pl., 626/793-3334, www.gamblehouse.org , Thurs.–Sun. noon–3 p.m., adults $10, children under 12 free) was designed and decorated by legendary SoCal architects Greene & Greene in the Craftsman style.
The only way to get inside is to take a tour (schedules vary based on the season). To buy tickets, go to the side of the main mansion and into the garage. The garage, built in the same style as the house, now acts as the house’s bookstore and ticket office.
Inside the house, you’ll be led from room to room as the docent describes the construction and decor in detail. The Craftsman aesthetic attempted to “answer” the overly ornate and precious Victorian style with long, clean lines and botanical motifs.
The Greenes took this philosophy to heart in the construction of the Gamble house—you’ll learn how they created this masterpiece as you view each unique room. You’ll also see how the Gambles lived inside the house and hear some of their stories, even that of the house’s possible haunting by the Gambles’ Aunt Julia.
The only place in the mansion that you won’t see are two upstairs servants’ rooms, now the home of two lucky architecture students who live in the house each school year.