Discovering the Elegance of San Marino’s Architecture

Discovering the Elegance of San Marino’s Architecture

San Marino, Los Angeles, Calif., epitomizes elegance and sophistication through its architectural landmarks, historical homes, and varied design influences. Known for its picturesque streets and well-preserved estates, San Marino offers a unique glimpse into the past while maintaining a timeless charm. Whether you are an architecture enthusiast or simply appreciate beautiful homes, exploring San Marino’s architectural treasures is a delightful experience.

This guide will take you through some of the most notable San Marino architectural landmarks, highlighting their historical significance and design influences.

A Journey Through Time

San Marino architecture reflects the changing tastes and trends in residential design:

  • Mission Revival (Early 20th Century): The early development of San Marino was heavily influenced by the Mission Revival style. These homes, characterized by red tile roofs, stucco walls, arched doorways, and wrought iron accents, evoke a sense of California's Spanish colonial heritage. Examples of this style are on streets like Mission Road and Huntington Drive.

  • Mediterranean Revival (1920s-1940s): As San Marino matured, the architectural landscape shifted towards the Mediterranean Revival style. These grand homes, often inspired by Italian and Spanish villas, feature symmetrical facades, clay tile roofs, decorative balconies, and courtyards. Orange Grove Boulevard and The Huntington offer prime examples of this elegant style.

  • Colonial Revival (1920s-1940s): The Colonial Revival style, drawing inspiration from American Georgian and Federal architecture, found a place in San Marino. These homes are typically symmetrical, with white clapboard siding, columns flanking the entryway, and black shutters. Examples can be found scattered throughout San Marino, adding a touch of East Coast charm to the California landscape.

  • Traditional Revival (1930s-1950s): A blend of various traditional styles, including English Tudor and French Normandy, emerged in the 1930s and 1950s. These homes showcase a variety of materials like brick, stone, and half-timbering, creating a sense of warmth and character. Look for examples on streets like Virginia Road and San Marino Avenue.

1. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens is one of San Marino's most iconic architectural landmarks. Founded by Henry E. Huntington in 1919, this sprawling estate features a stunning Beaux-Arts mansion that houses a world-renowned collection of art and rare books. The estate's extensive botanical gardens, designed in various styles, provide a beautiful backdrop and showcase the influence of different design principles.

2. Lacy Park

Lacy Park is a beautifully landscaped public park that reflects the community's commitment to preserving natural beauty and providing recreational spaces. The park features walking paths, picnic areas, and meticulously maintained gardens. The surrounding historical homes showcase a variety of architectural styles, offering visitors a glimpse into the design influences that have shaped the area over the decades.

3. El Molino Viejo

El Molino Viejo, also known as "The Old Mill," is a historic grist mill built in 1816. This San Marino architectural landmark reflects the early Spanish design influences in California. The adobe structure's thick walls and rustic charm provide a fascinating look at the region's early history. Today, El Molino Viejo serves as a museum and cultural center, offering tours and educational programs.

4. The Edwin Hubble House

The Edwin Hubble House, once the residence of the famous astronomer, is a prime example of early 20th-century architecture in San Marino. This historical home blends elements of Spanish Colonial Revival and Mediterranean design influences. The house is a tribute to the city's rich history in science and innovation, as Hubble made significant astronomical discoveries while living here.

5. The Thurnher House

The Thurnher House, located within Lacy Park's grounds, is a charming Craftsman-style bungalow that serves as a visitor center. Built in the early 20th century, this historical home highlights the Arts and Crafts design influences with its detailed woodwork, broad eaves, and integrated outdoor spaces. The Thurnher House provides visitors with insights into the architectural trends of the period and the park's history.

6. The Valentine Cottage

The Valentine Cottage is a quaint historical home that embodies the English Tudor Revival style. With its steeply pitched gable roofs, half-timbering, and brickwork, the cottage offers a picturesque glimpse into the romantic design influences that were popular in the early 20th century. This architectural landmark is a testament to the diversity of styles found in San Marino.

7. The Michael White Adobe

The Michael White Adobe is one of the oldest structures in San Marino, dating back to the 1840s. This historic home, built by the English sailor Michael White, reflects traditional Mexican adobe construction. The building's thick walls and simple design indicate the practical influences of the time, providing a stark contrast to the more ornate homes that followed.

8. The Kewen House

The Kewen House is another significant San Marino architectural landmark. This Victorian-era home features ornate detailing, expansive porches, and decorative woodwork, showcasing the opulent design influences of the late 19th century. The Kewen House is a beautifully preserved example of the grandeur and elegance of the period’s residential architecture.

9. The Wrigley House

The Wrigley House, also known as the Tournament House, was built in 1906 by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. This grand historical home exhibits a mix of Italian Renaissance and Georgian Revival design influences. The mansion now serves as the headquarters for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and is open for public tours, offering a unique glimpse into the lifestyle of the early 20th century. 

10. The Blacker House

The Blacker House, designed by renowned architects Greene and Greene in 1907, is a masterpiece of the American Arts and Crafts movement. This historical home showcases the design influences of the Craftsman style, with its extensive use of natural materials, handcrafted details, and harmonious integration with the surrounding landscape. The Blacker House is a celebrated example of the architectural innovation and artistry of the Greene brothers.

About Bradley Mohr

For over 27 years, Bradley Mohr has been a top-producing real estate professional in Pasadena and the surrounding areas. Recently recognized as one of the top 10 teams nationwide, Brad specializes in selling architecturally significant homes and properties across all price ranges in Pasadena, Altadena, La Canada Flintridge, San Marino, South Pasadena, and other San Gabriel Valley communities. Brad's business thrives on referrals and is known for exceeding client expectations, reflecting his commitment to building lasting relationships.

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