Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thorsen House - part 3

Just because I have the pictures - here are a few more of the Thorsen House by Greene and Greene in Berkeley, CA. Anyone who has found their way to this blog post (third in the series), has an interest in the details of a seminal Bungalow style Greene and Greene building. This is a window on the south side of the "ell".

Looking up at the inside corner of the "ell", note the wide overhang, carved rafter tails, and carefully crafted copper downspout. Every surface has the same attention to detail as the front door.

Our little group examines the dining room. David Monroe and Berkeley Mills designed and created "kit" dining room chairs for the residents of Thorsen House to assemble.

Even the servant's quarters in the attic received the special attention to detail that every other part of the house received. Though simpler in overall design, the balusters, tucked-in drawers, baseboards, and doors are carefully designed.

Sigma Phi will be raising $10 million for the seismic strengthening and restoration of the Thorsen House so that it will survive for centuries to come.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thorsen House - part 2

The theme of this post is "interior finishes and details". This is one of the stained glass and wood ceiling fixtures. Note the original canvas over plaster ceiling finish, which has not been altered. Every surface in the house has the same attention to detail - even the wood wainscot has eased edges and wooden pegs. The photo below is just inside the front door, where again the original canvas over plaster finish on the wall above the wainscot can be seen.

One of the rosewood (?) sconces in the living room/parlour. The mauve tile has restrained detail - but see below how the dining room fireplace is finished out...

This is a corner of the fireplace mantel and tile.

...a detail of the fireplace tile:

This one is the mysterious "peace" symbol. 1909. Is it original, or a careful and clever 60's addition to the house?

One more post, with some more photos. I find it hard to choose which ones to show.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Thorsen House

An opportunity to visit the Greene and Greene designed Thorsen House in Berkeley, CA arose over the past weekend. John and I charged up our camera batteries and took advantage of a break in the winter fog to see one of the only Greene and Greene houses in northern California - and a unique 1909 example of the Bungalow style of the Arts and Crafts movement. The house is now owned by the Sigma Phi fraternity. Frederick Law Olmsted designed the street as well as the adjacent U.C. Berkeley campus. Mrs. Thorsen was the sister of Nellie Blacker - owner of the Blacker House in Pasadena (completed 1907).

Window to front hall

The brothers of Sigma Phi were having an all-day work party when we arrived. The house was being scrubbed, buffed, and vacuumed - as well as the front and back yards being weeded, raked and trimmed. An alumnus who had been deeply involved in preservation efforts for the house spent 1 1/2 hours showing the house and answering questions.

This is an occasion where photos speak more eloquently than words.

Stair landing at the second floor

The veranda sheltered by the "ell" of the building creates an oasis of green in the heart of the residential block.

Next post: interior details and a peace sign pre-dating the 60's free speech movement by over 50 years...

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