Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Greene and Greene, Architects (firm); Charles Sumner Greene (architect); Henry Mather Greene (architect)

Dates: constructed 1903

1 story

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San Pasqual Street and Michigan Avenue
California Institute of Technology Campus, Pasadena, CA 91125

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The Arturo Bandini House occupied the northwest corner of San Pasqual Street and Michigan Avenue, now on the property of the California Instittute of Technology.

Overview

This was one of the earliest efforts by Anglo-American architects to use and adapt the U-shaped hacienda floorplan of the Spanish-Mexican settlers to California. In so doing, it set the trend for numberless one-story, L- and U-shaped ranch houses popularized in CA after 1903. The Bandini House was widely illustrated and became highly influential for the development of the more relaxed and informal ranch house in suburbs across the US after World War II.

Building History

The ranch house as developed by the Greene Brothers in the Bandini House was a blend of various influences, including Spanish-Mexican haciendas, traditional Japanese post-and-beam buildings, and vernacular American wood-frame building traditions. It was a fascinating and important amalgam, reflective of the creative freedom possible in CA at the time. Led by the Greene Brothers and others, architects began to synthesize new designs reflecting more informal ways of life possible in CA, less bound by social conventions prevalent on the East Coast and immersed in the state's salubrious climate, abundant sunshine and unspoiled vistas,

Duncan Macintosh, in his study, The Modern Courtyard House, stated of the Bandini House: "[Greene and Greene's] first patio house was designed in 1903 for a native Californian, Arturo Bandini. He asked for a design in the style of the architecture of his ancestors. The Bandini house plan was Spanish Colonial, being U-shaped with a verandah around a large square patio, and a pergola screening the fourth side. But the lightweight timber structure and shingle roof gave the house an appearance that was more Japanese than Spanish." (See Duncan Macintosh, The Modern Courtyard House, [London: Lund Humphries for the Architectural Association, 1973], p. 11.) The use of a lightweight post-and-beam framing system could have been observed in traditional Japanese architecture but was also used in American industrial architecture of the time, as well.

The Greene and Greene Virtual Archive has said of the building: "The Arturo Bandini residence reshaped the Greenes’ thinking on defining California Architecture. Bandini's father, Don Juan Bandini, was an important figure in California’s political and economic history. With his wife, Helen Elliott Bandini, whose father had been a founder of Pasadena, they desired a design that would reflect the romance of the pueblo and rancho life of the early Californians. The design made use of both the classic u-shaped plan of the casa de rancho and the needs and materials of a modern California home. Although built of wood rather than adobe, it had a welcoming open courtyard flanked on three sides by sheltering corredores. Posts that sat on partly sunken stones, thereby blending Hispanic traditions with traditional Japanese building methods, supported the roofs of these verandas." (See Greene and Greene Virtual Archives, "Arturo Bandini HousePasadena, California 1903," accessed 01/30/2017.)

Edward R. Bosley of the Gamble House has said of this new Japanese influence on the Greene's work in 1903: "Also in 1903, Charles Greene purchased a copy of Japanese Homes and their Surroundings by Edward S. Morse of Salem, Mass. First published in 1886, it brought to the American public a detailed account of the rustic simplicity of Japanese domestic architecture and furnishings. Shortly after Charles purchased the book, he altered the Bandini drawings, in a simple but telling way, just prior to construction. Where the Greenes’ sketches had previously shown exterior posts resting directly on a cement porch, the altered version placed the bottoms of the posts on natural stones — a detail illustrated in Morse’s book. This and other early manifestations of Japanese and Chinese design in the Greenes’ work, such as timber pergolas and rock gardens, were harbingers of an exotic influence that would soon become prevalent in their architecture." (See the The Gamble House, "The New California Aesthetic" accessed 01/30/2017.) Placing a wooden member directly on moist soil would invite rot, so affixing a post directly to a concrete pad would have been the standard solution to waterproof the frame. Bosworth's important observation that the Greenes altered the detailing to utilize a stone rather than the concrete-post connection, strongly indicated the architects' new appreciation of Japanese building traditions and aesthetics.

Building Notes

Don Arturo Bandini (1853-1913) was a large landholder in Southern CA who married Helen Elliott (1854-1911), the daughter of an influential member of the Indiana Colony, Dr. Thomas B. Elliott (b. 1824 in NY). (This colony of Indiana transplants became the nucleus of the cultivated city Pasadena would become.) Dr. Elliott was credited with naming the city of Pasadena.

In 1904, Arturo's son, Ralph (1885-1961), then a student, resided at the residence. (See Pasadena, California, City Directory, 1904, p. 44.) He had left the house by 1910. According to the US Census of that year, Arturo, then 57, lived here with his wife, his son, Elliott (1894-1963) his mother-in-law, Helen A. Elliott (born c. 1834 in NY), and a Japanese-born servant, (whose name is unreadable on the census form) then 25 years old. The Bandinis married about 1882, and had two children. (See Ancestry.com,Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: Pasadena Ward 6, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T624_86; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0310; FHL microfilm: 1374099,accessed 01/30/2017.)

They resided in the house from its construction until Arturo's death in 1913.

Demolition

The Bandini House was torn down in the 1960s.

PCAD id: 8651