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A Guide to Pasadena’s Craftsman Weekend

October 17, 2018

| Posted in Posts

craftsman weekend, California, arts and crafts, movements, Pasadena, green and green, architecture, heritage Pasadena, litte Switzerland, los angeles

Image courtesy of Pasadena Heritage

One of Pasadena’s signature annual events, Craftsman Weekend returns for its 27th edition November 9-11, 2018. Whether you’re a design aficionado, history buff or an all around aesthete, this is the ultimate opportunity to delve into the American Arts & Crafts Movement—and see some gorgeous Pasadena properties not generally open to the public.

Presented by the non-profit historic preservation organization, Pasadena Heritage, Craftsman Weekend is considered the largest, most comprehensive celebration of the Craftsman Movement in the Western U.S. When the Arts & Crafts Movement started in American back in the late 1890s, Pasadena quickly emerged as a leading center for Craftsman style architecture, art and ceramics. Influential figures who helped make Pasadena a bastion of the American Craftsman movement included the likes of architects Charles and Henry Greene, tile maker Ernest Batchelder and artists Elmer and Marion Wachtel. Their legacy lives on today, and Craftsman Weekend is a grand showcase of their enduring vision.

The action-packed, three-day program features a line-up of tours, lectures, demonstrations and workshops in notable venues all over town. From historic neighborhood tours and exclusive events in stunning settings to guided walks through incredible Craftsman bungalows, you can customize your own personal itinerary. Some events are ticketed, while others are free. Here’s the lowdown on what you need to know to make the most of this unique Pasadena experience.

The self-guided Sunday House Tour (9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday, November 11) is the centerpiece event of Craftsman Weekend. Homes already confirmed for the 2018 tour include the Buchanan, Cole, Gard and Worth houses. Tickets are $65 for non-members.

Six different guided Neighborhood Walking Tours spotlight hubs where numerous, notable examples of Craftsman style design and architecture are clustered. You’ll walk away brimming with design insights and memorable local history. These 1.5- to 2-hour tours are all ticketed, with prices ranging from $30-$45, and many offer multiple start times so you can easily fit two in one day.

  • Thursday, November 8: The Pre-Craftsman Weekend Old Pasadena Tour (4:00 p.m.) explores the evolution of Pasadena’s original downtown from the Victorian to Modern eras.
  • Friday, November 9: The Off-Ramp Tour (9:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.) delves into Pasadena’s bungalow past prior to the introduction of the 210 freeway. Make it a double-header with an afternoon Tournament Fields Tour (1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.) that explores the Tournament Fields Historic District and homes from St. Francis Court—the very first bungalow court.
  • Saturday, November 10: The Fountains on Foot Tour (9:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.) departs from the Convention Center to visit remarkable water features in the Civic Center’s Historic District. The Orange Heights Tour (10:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.) covers four streets in the historic Orange Heights neighborhood with a focus on the work of master builder D.M. Renton.
  • Sunday, November 11: The Cemetery Sunset Dinner and Tour (5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.) is an immersive experience staged at Mountain View Cemetery, where guests learn about the lives and deaths of some of Pasadena’s pioneer families, California statesmen and other historically significant figures. The $45 fee includes a boxed dinner enjoyed picnic style.

Let someone else do the driving on one of the three themed Bus Tours, which each cost $45. The two-hour Pasadena Overview Bus Tour (Friday, November 9 at 10:30 a.m. and Monday, November 12 at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.) highlights the variety of architectural styles found in Pasadena. The three-hour Asian Influence Bus Tour (Friday, November 9 at 1:00 p.m.) showcases the Asian influence that differentiates Pasadena’s bungalows and Arts & Crafts homes from those in the Midwest and U.K. Another three-hour tour, Off the Beaten Path (Saturday, November 10 at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.) features over 40 historically significant sites, objects, people and events that tend to fly under the radar.

Start the weekend on an artistic note with the Pasadena Museum of History Curator Discussion & Reception (6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Thursday, November 8) celebrating the exhibition Something Revealed: California Women Artists Emerge, 1860-1960. The art of mosaic is the focus of an opening reception and lecture for Progressive American Mosaics: Assembling the Pieces of a Forgotten Story at the historic Blinn House of the Women’s City Club of Pasadena (5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Friday, November 9).

Learn how the Gamble family’s fascination with the Orient brought Asian influences into the landmark Gamble House with a lecture and tour (9:00 a.m. Friday, November 9). Hear about D.M. Renton’s Legacy (9:30 a.m. Saturday, November 10) courtesy of Historian John Ripley, a major contributor to the recently published book, The Life and Legacy of D.M. Renton. DIY-ers will appreciate the expertise of longtime Historic Architect William W. Ellinger III (11:00 a.m. Saturday, November 10) whose lecture covers how to preserve and maintain the historic integrity of the different woods used in Craftsman homes.

Award-winning Ikebana artist Kyoko Kassarjian presents an Ikebana Demonstration (1:00 p.m. Saturday, November 10) on the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging. Continue to immerse yourself in Pasadena’s Japanese influence with a Traditional Tea Ceremony (Saturday, November 10 at 2:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.) at the Storrier Sterns Japanese Garden. Spend more time in the authentic garden and teahouse at the elegant Japanese Garden Evening Reception (5:00 p.m. Saturday, November 10). This is one of the Pasadena Heritage Foundation’s biggest fundraisers, so the $125 ticket price definitely benefits a good cause. 

If you want to bring some of Craftsman inspiration home with you, don’t miss the Antiques & Contemporary Furnishing & Decorative Arts Sale (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Saturday, November 10 and 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sunday, November 11).  More than 40 jury-selected exhibitors from across the country sell Craftsman-era and period-inspired furniture, textiles, pottery, tiles, metal work, wallpaper, stencils and books at the Pasadena Convention Center.

While you’re in town, hit local antique shops that carry such impressive selections of Arts & Crafts period pieces, designers from around the world frequent them, as do leading Hollywood set designers.

If you can’t make it to Craftsman Weekend, you can still immerse yourself in Pasadena’s Arts & Crafts treasures any time of year. Self-guided architectural tour maps are available at the Pasadena Visitors Center. Pasadena Heritage leads tours and hosts lectures throughout the year, and the Bungalow Heaven Home Tour is an annual spring calendar highlight. The iconic Gamble House is open to the public for tours and talks year round. There’s even a local microbrewery inspired by the Craftsman movement—visit Lucky Baldwins for a pint of Craftsman Brewing Company beer. Cheers to all things Craftsman!

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