Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Greene and Greene, Architects (firm); Greene, Isabelle C., and Associates, Landscape Architects (firm); Charles Sumner Greene (architect); Henry Mather Greene (architect); Isabelle C. Greene (landscape architect)

Dates: constructed 1907-1909

3 stories, total floor area: 5,046 sq. ft.

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1344 Hillcrest Avenue
Oak Knoll, Pasadena, CA 91106

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This Swiss-chalet residence was erected for a Canadian judge and his wife who relocated to the cultivated city of Pasadena, CA in 1909. Many members of the professional and upper-class either retired or obtained vacation residences in Pasadena between the 1880s and 1910s. The Spinks did not retire to Pasadena, as borth died in British Columbia during the 1930s and 1940s. Simpler in its ornamentation and detailing than other contemporary "ultimate bungalows" designed by Greene and Greene, this residence retained in 2018 a high degree of originality in its architectural character. It also was a rarity at that time for the pristine state of its site, its 1.5-acre parcel having remained un-subdivided. Isabelle C. Greene, the architects' granddaughter designed many of the landscape improvements found on the property today.

Building History

The remarkable architectural duo of Henry Mather (1870-1954) and Charles Sumner Greene (1868-1957) designed this $11,000 residence for the barrister and Yale County Court Judge William Ward Spinks (born 11/10/1852 in Liverpool, England-d. 12/18/1937 in Victoria, BC, Canada) and his third wife, Margaret Black Stuart Clapham Spinks (b. 06/15/1867 in Quebec, Canada-d. 06/15/1948 in Oak Bay, BC, Canada), who relocated to the Oak Knoll neighborhood of Pasadena from Vernon, Canada. He was made President of the Pasadena Hotel Company in 1909. William was 16 years older than his wife, when they married in Victoria, BC, on 11/04/1903. They did not have children. In 1910, they resided in this large house with a single housekeeper, Mary E. Donahue (born c. 1867 in IL). (See, Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: Pasadena Ward 3, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T624_86; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 0357; FHL microfilm: 1374099, accessed 06/12/2018.)

According to the Greene and Greene Virtual Archives, Henry Mather Greene designed the Spinks House, using a square plan with chalet features, that he first developed in 1904-1905: "The Spinks house is an elaboration of the rectangular, large-gabled form of the California House developed by Henry Greene in 1904-05. Characteristically, the siting of the house was dictated by the topography of the lot. Henry Greene, who designed the house while his brother was in London, recognized that by placing the house just west of the slope into the canyon to the east he could take advantage of dramatic views from the rear of the house and an equally dramatic set-back from the street. The interior is simpler than those of the elaborate houses designed for the Greenes' clients of this period. Plaster walls with cedar trim replace the exotic hardwood paneling of the more expensive houses. A skylight, one of Henry's trademark architectural elements, illuminates the upper hall and staircase." (See University of Southern California, Greene and Greene Virtual Archives, "Mrs. Margaret B. S. Clapham Spinks House," accessed 06/12/2018.)

William and Margaret Spinks resided here until 1911, when they sold the house and its 1.5-acre property to oil company president William Fitzherbert-West (born 02/11/1865 in PA-d. 01/12/1940 in Los Angeles County, CA) and his wife, Helen S. Ball Fitzherbert-West (born 11/17/1872 in IA-d. 11/01/1959 in Los Angeles County, CA). After selling the house, William and Mary Spinks took up residence in the Hotel Maryland. In 1920, the Fitzherbert-Wests continued to live at 1344 Hillcrest Avenue with their sons, George F. (born 06/08/1901 in CA-d. 08/05/1994 in Orange County, CA) and Montgomery Paulison (born 12/09/1902 in MO-d. 12/29/1990 in Orange County, CA). (See, Source Citation Year: 1920; Census Place: Pasadena, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T625_117; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 534, accessed 06/12/2018.) The Fitzherbert-Wests had moved to 285 Congress Place in Pasadena by 1930. (See, Source Citation Year: 1930; Census Place: Pasadena, Los Angeles, California; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 1246, accessed 06/12/2018.)

TheLos Angeles Times said of the property when it came up for sale in 2006: "The Spinks House sits atop a slope on a nearly 1.5-acre property in the Oak Knoll neighborhood. Its meadow-like setting provides privacy. Isabelle Greene, granddaughter of Henry Greene, restored and redesigned some of the gardens in 1989. It has extensive terraces and porches, as well as a balcony." (See Gayle Pollard-Terry, Los Angeles, "A pair of repolished Greene & Greene gems," published 04/02/2006, accessed 06/12/2018.) The 5,046-square-foot house had an asking price of $5.35 million when it hit the market in 04/2006. It contained 7 bedrooms and 4 and 1/2 baths at this time.

Building Notes

Plans for this house exist in the Greene and Greene Virtual Archives, hosted by the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, CA. (This archive contains a virtual collection of items held by four institutions: the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University in the City of New York; the Environmental Design Archives at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB); The Gamble House, University of Southern California (USC), in Pasadena, California; and the Greene and Greene Archives, USC at The Huntington Library in San Marino, California.)Thirty-three original paper documents are housed in the Avery Architectural Library, Columbia University, New York, NY. (See also this site for another pair of items.)

William Spinks was married previously to Catherine Stamper Richardson (1847-1875) and Dora Bessie Coupland (1858-1897).

Spinks applied for naturalization to the United States on 02/27/1912 in Seattle, WA. He and his wife entered the country via Seattle aboard the liner Princess Beatrice on 09/24/1909. By the time of his intention to declare US citizenship, Spinks and his wife lived at the Hotel Maryland, and not at 1344 Hillcrest Avenue. (They continued to reside there in 1920, as per the US Census. [See, Source Citation Year: 1920; Census Place: Pasadena, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T625_117; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 519, accessed 06/12/2018.]) According to his naturalization document, his last foreign residence was in Vernon, BC, Canada. (See, Source Citation National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; NAI Number: 1; Record Group Title: M1524; Record Group Number: Naturalization Records of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Central Division (Los Angeles), 1887-1940, accessed 06/12/2018.)

Judge Spinks wrote a book entitled Tales of the British Columbia Frontier (Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1933), discussing his days in the 1890s and 1900s riding by horseback from courthouse to courthouse in the undeveloped region around Yale, Okanagan and the Kootenays in BC.


While this house demonstrated great originality in 2018, two changes had been made during the 1900s by owners. One was the remodeling of the garage. This originally contained a room for a chauffeur and a workroom, but this was changed to become a space for housing three cars.

Another change was a one-floor addition on the residence's south side to create two rooms for household servants.

PCAD id: 22119