Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Marston and Van Pelt, Architects (firm); Sylvanus Boardman Marston (architect); Garrett Beekman Van Pelt Jr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1917

2 stories

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1126 Hillcrest Avenue
Oak Knoll, Pasadena, CA 91106-4433

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The Garford House was located on the northeast corner of Oak Knoll Avenue and Hillcrest Avenue.


This two-floor Mediterranean Revival residence designed for the Ohio businessman George L. Garford and his wife Mary Nelson Garford was located in the well-heeled Oak Knoll section of Pasadena, CA. The Garford House had an L-shaped plan, and was built at the same time as the neighboring house at 1132 Hillcrest Avenue, erected for the Garfords' daughter, Louise and her husband Emanuele Lavagnino.

Both houses by Marston and Van Pelt were located across the street and three doors west of Greene and Greene's majestic Blacker House on Hillcrest Avenue.

Building History

The Ohio-born banker and businessman Arthur Lovett Garford (1858-1933) became wealthy during the 1890s bicycle craze, buying a company that manufactured bicycles and road paving equipment. The road paving equipment made bicycle riding safer and more comfortable. In order to make riding even more pleasant, his Garford Manufacturing Company of Elyria, OH, mass-produced the patented "Garford Saddle" in 1892, a more comfortable padded seat design that sold well across the country. With these profits, Garford invested in the burgeoning automobile manufacturing business, working in cooperation with the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, IN, to produce Studebaker-branded cars, although they were also known as "Studebaker-Garfords." This marque lasted only seven years, between 1904 and 1911. Garford continued to build his own cars for a short time in Elyria after his partnership with Studebaker ended, but he quickly sold his operation to John North Willys (1873-1935) and his Willys-Overland Company of Toledo, OH, in 1913. Following this sale, Garford made retirement plans.

Following the lead of many Midwestern industrialists seeking a warmer climate for retirement, Garford and his wife Mary L. Nelson Garford (1858-1935) purchased two properties in Pasadena, CA, in 1915 for $25,000. They commissioned the local architectural firm of Marston and Van Pelt to design two dwellings side-by-side. one for themselves at 1126 Hillcrest Drive, and the other for their daughter Louise Ely Garford Lavagnino (1885-1968) and her husband Emanuele (1889-1961) at 1132 Hillcrest. City directories indicated that the Garfords resided at 1126 Hillcrest by 1917. They were not listed in the city directory of 1916, which means that they either occupied the house by later 1916 or the following year. (See Pasadena, California, City Directory, 1917, p. 161.) According to the web site Bizarre Los, The two houses cost a total of $38,000 to complete. (See, "Arthur L. Garford home--Pasadena--1126 Hillcrest," published 11/29/2016, accessed 04/20/2021.)

Building Notes

Marston and Van Pelt won honor awards from the American Institute of Architects, Southern California Chapter, for the Arcade Building, Pasadena, CA, and the Garford House, Pasadena, CA, 04/1920.

The two Garford Houses were featured in the 1988 comedy, Twins, featuring Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

PCAD id: 3390