Pasadena Showcase house: Tour of Tudor-style mansion ends Sunday

Mercer 18008

David Tolley

The English country-style house was built in 1927 by the famous Angeleno architect Paul Revere Williams, who also designed the Beverly Hills Hotel.

One of the oldest house and garden tours in the country is running the annual Pasadena Showcase House of Design through Sunday in an English country-style mansion in La Cañada Flintridge..

The black Angeleno architect Paul Revere Williams, known as "architect to the stars," created the stately brick home being showcased this year in 1927. Decades later, designer David Dalton splashed up the living room with magenta and bright orange, while keeping its old features. There are 10-foot-tall French doors, paneled and beamed cathedral ceilings, leaded windows, and a carved wood and limestone fireplace. The floors, counters, woodwork and bathroom tile remain largely untouched.

John Jahr, who made over the parlor for the house tour, said he admires Williams' authenticity.

"When he designed a Tudor house, it was a Tudor house … or a Spanish style house, it was Spanish. Unlike many architects today who take a great deal of liberty with historical styles," he said.

The grounds also includes a one-time shelter for horses that's now a home for people. The building had no foundation and few supports. Physics, gravity and structural challenges got in the way as designers tried to retrofit it for the showcase tour.

"Before we were able to go forward, we had to go backwards and take everything down, take everything out, put a lot of beams in," said Joshua Cain, who designed the space.

But the horse trough stayed. Now it's the fountain for the two-bedroom guest house.

Then there's the garden — there are 10 of them on nearly 5 acres, and they are largely designed around the native oaks on the grounds. Native oaks need very little water and regular irrigation can kill them. That's why tea garden designer Isara Ongwiseth replaced a thirsty lawn with drought-tolerant plants for the showcase.

"Autumn sage, lion's tails, coast rosemary, coral bells, ceonotes, Oregon grapes," she said. "These are wonderful plants that can thrive under the oak tree and they all require very little water."

Tickets are still available here, and proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Philharmonic this year.

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