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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