Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses; built works - dwellings - houses - bungalows

Designers: Heineman and Heineman, Architect and Builder (firm); Alfred M. Heineman (architect); Arthur Seelman Heineman (architect)

Dates: constructed 1909-1910

1 story

444 East California Bouelvard
Pasadena, CA 91106

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The Parsons House was moved Altadena, CA, four miles away from its original site.


The Parsons house was cut into three parts and moved via truck to a new site in the hills above Altadena. The owner, Phil Elkins, had restored two previous historic houses, but the Parsons House required an extraordinary amount of time, labor and money to relocate. Architect Tim Andersen described the new site: "[Elkins] bought a vacant corner lot in Altadena, four miles north of original site. High in the foothills, the bare lot had a great view of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north and east. The original site, however, was dead flat. The Altadena site dropped six feet over the length of the building, and required extensive grading. To reduce impact of slope we built a new boulder retaining wall at the lower end of the lot, and backfilled. Instead of placing the house parallel with its lot lines, we turned it to face the corner. This opened principal rooms to views of the mountains, and avoided building over a flood control easement. County required that we add a two car garage. We designed a detached garage to match the house, and located it in the back corner of the lot. Access and parking were from an upper street, and not in view from the house." Andersen described the site's significant challenges for siting a residence: "Eventually, we did get the house back together, but it took two full years. The site had remained undeveloped for a good reason. Buried beneath it was a flood control channel, and an easement prohibited construction over it. Just above the lot, channel was open and connected to a debris basin in foothills. The previous summer a fire had swept across these hills destroying many plants that held soil to its slopes. Winter rains washed the bare slopes and created torrents in gullies and canyons. As Parsons house construction got underway we could hear heavy earth moving equipment at the debris basin, removing silt that was quickly filling basin. After a night of especially hard rain their efforts failed, and a deluge came plummeting down the channel. Once debris slammed into the covered portion just beyond Parsons site, the flow was over the top. The house and its neighbors were inundated." Dealing with site challenges and physically reconstructing the building in Altadena took Elkins and Andersen over two years. (See Tim Andersen, Architect, "Parsons House Revisited," accessed 04/17/2017.)

A guest house for owners, Bill Steinberg and Mary Quirk, was built in 1997 by Tim Andersen. According to Andersen: "We all agreed the cottage should be detached, and not connected to landmark. It seemed it would clutter the site to add another building, so I recommended attaching guest house to garage. Addition steps down with the slope to the south. Terrace and entry face the main house, establishing a connection. Program for cottage was simple. Owners wanted a generous living space with separate bedroom and bath. From living room a sunny terrace faces southwest; from bedroom, a shady courtyard faces northeast and view of mountains. Low pitched garage roof is repeated over addition, and the same module is used so proportions are compatible." (See Tim Andersen, Architect, "Parsons House Revisited," accessed 04/17/2017.)

PCAD id: 18620