Doing it the right way | Features

MY 1910 CRAFTSMAN IN EAGLE ROCK

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Craftsman House Arbor Eagle RockThe story begins with my love affair with the Alfred W. & Grace D. Hare House, a beautiful Craftsman, in Eagle Rock, a bungalow neighborhood in N.E. Los Angeles. Once an incorporated town in its own right, Eagle Rock is just west of Pasadena & was clearly influenced by the architecture being built there.

The entrance to the property is through an arbor that I had built with saplings that were so green that leaves kept growing long after the fence was constructed. An arroyo rock border lined the sidewalk & roses grew intertwined through the sapling fence. There’s a great, full page image of the arbor in BUNGALOW DETAILS:  Exterior, on page 190

The rocks came from the nearby Arroyo Seco (which in Spanish means “dry gulch”) a canyon between Eagle Rock & Pasadena. This rock is a common material seen in houses in this area & clearly shows their place in the world.

My next-door-neighbor retired & got herself a chainsaw, Every time I heard the buzzing start-up, I’d grab my keys & head for the nursery to buy another tree.  I ended up with a small grove of birches in the front & a shaggy, grafted one that looked like  a parasol under which fairies could dance, when it was first installed but turned into Cousin It as it grew. The house is on 1 1/2 lots & is set well back from the street, so the huge, aged pine & the new birches made a nice little forest.

MY ARTS & CRAFTS GARDEN

I also used the same rocks to form a path from the driveway to the front walk. I installed baby’s tears (Soleirolia soleirolii) a mossy appearing tropical perennial with tiny, tiny leaves between the path & the border. They were very soft & sweet & I coaxed them to grow so that they would provide a natural woodland look. A week before my mother was supposed to arrive to see the house for the first time, my gardener edged them so they were level on top & flat against the border. I am a plant whisperer but I admit that during that week I was more of a plant cheerleader & probably even a plant sergeant, alternating cheering & commanding them to grow back into gentle, fluffy mounds before my mom’s arrival.

Inspired by the origins of the Arts & Crafts Movement, I planted an English garden. Arroyo rock bordered the garden beds which I enlarged & planted with shade loving plants on the shady side & plants that looked like shade loving plants on the other side. It was very difficult! Los Angeles is not England. Los Angeles is a desert & plants easily fry in the sun, so I had to stretch my wits to fill a bed that got nuked every day with plants that could have maybe been in an English cottage garden.

A great deal of my planning was centered on choosing what I would want to cut, to bring in the house. I love old flowers, so I chose calla lilies & several different types of ferns so that I would have greens. I grew roses in honor of my mother & my grandmother. My grandmother was an accomplished rosarian, & in 1930, was certified as a rose judge.

THE HOUSE

Craftsman Eagle RockThe centered, front-gabled porch is supported by massive timber framing & arroyo stone piers. A  free-form  arroyo stone chimney is on the east side. Sadly, I have no pictures of my chimney, but you can see it in Jane Powell’s book BUNGALOW DETAILS:  Exterior, on page 57.

Typical of Southern California Craftsman style, as one of the earlier houses built, the Hare House helped set the style for later homes in Eagle Rock. Its solid massing & low horizontal profile, is boldly embellished with honest decorative elements, employing simple & natural building materials. As celebrated by the Arts & Crafts Movement, there are many connections from the outside to the inside, with the inviting porch & the sunroom & the many large windows, both casement & doublehung  in every room of the house.

The entry features a centered Douglas fir door with 4 beveled lites. We added a screen door (not original) of quartersawn oak with brass screen.

The shingle siding was stained when i purchased the house. I hire an inexperienced painter who had slapped a coat of paint on it by the time I arrived home from the office. We had chosen colors together & I thought that he noticed that I was showing him stain samples, but he did not. There is a good chance that he had never stained a house & didn’t know that you could. It broke my heart. I felt like I had betrayed the house.

THE BUILDER OF MY CRAFTSMAN IN EAGLE ROCK

The original owner (through 1923) Alfred W. Hare & his wife Grace D. Hare made significant contributions to the community of Eagle Rock & the City of Los Angeles.They were both active in the cultural, social & religious life of the town. Local papers of the time feature many stories of their travels, their house guests & their participation in events on behalf of the town’s various social organizations, such as the Women’s Club, the Elks, the Red Cross & the Near East Relief work after the war.

Ordained as a clergyman of the Congregational Church in 1896, Hare moved to Eagle Rock in 1909 as pastor of the shuttered Eagle Rock Congregational Church. Soon after, due to his inspired success of the church, Hare oversaw the construction of a new church building.

Craftsman Church Eagle Rock

Sadly, this church, an extraordinary example of  Arts & Crafts design, is no longer standing. I have been unable to track down both the architect of the house & of the church. To my eye, the house & the church were not drawn by the same hand. I would love to know your opinion of this.

After 1912, he was the pastor at other churches in Los Angeles, notably 27 total years at Park Congregational Church in Angeleno Heights.

LetterheadAdmitted to the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 1912, Hare founded the large & successful law firm of Hare & Walden situated in downtown Los Angeles. The office, with its built-in desk & fireplace was probably well-used by Hare, writing sermons, counseling parishioners & then, after he began practicing law, working on cases that he brought home from the office.

Mrs. Grace Dunsmoor Hare had been a “successful & popular” teacher & was the daughter of Charles Dunsmoor, who was County Clerk of Los Angeles County & California State Bank Commissioner. Both Mr. & Mrs. Hare were revered leaders in the realms of social activism & philanthropy in their community of Eagle Rock.

Learning these things about them helped to explain the house. Though one of the finest homes in the neighborhood, it was situated well away from the grah-ah-ahnd street of the town, Hill Drive. Learning of Reverend Hare’s astute ability to handle money -he helped several churches whose congregations he led to tear up their mortgages- my surmise is that he thriftily chose a less pricey, but large & beautiful lot on which to build.

The house, at 1950 square feet had only 2 bedrooms. In none of my research on him have I seen any evidence of children. In later years Grace was sickly & I wonder if her maladies could have affected her fertility. By the time the house was built, they had been married for 7 years & had probably stopped planning to grow their family.

The public areas were clearly designed for entertaining with a large living room & dining room, as well as a sunroom. I can easily imagine gay fundraisers for the Women’s Twentieth Century Club building fund to have taken place there, with Alfred playing the guitar & the 2 of them singing, perhaps accompanied by his sisters who wrote songs & skits to contribute to the effort.

Almost 100 years later, I was a member of Club & participated in fundraising events to restore & preserve the beautiful building. Again, I wonder at the architect because all the members of the Hare family, Alfred, Grace & his 3 sisters were instrumental in the fundraising that enabled it to be built & they possibly would have had some influence in its design.

It was an honor & a privilege to hold the stewardship of this beautiful home. When I restored it, I kept the Hares in mind & strove to create make choices that would please them & create a space in which they would feel comfortable. The woman to whom I sold the house held them in the same regard & the remaining restoration that she performed, was done with the same reverence, for the family, the neighborhood & the period.

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