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2013 Pasadena Showcase House of Design

The Architect
Roland Eli Coate, Sr., (1890-1958), who designed this year’s estate, was a renowned architect in Southern California. He attended Earlham College in his hometown of Richmond, Indiana for two years and then transferred to Cornell University where he graduated in 1914 with a degree in architecture. From 1915-1917, he worked for the prestigious New York architectural firm Trowbridge and Livingston as a draftsman; and, during World War I, spent 17 months as part of the American Expeditionary Forces. After his military duty, in 1919, Coate moved to California where he eventually joined the architectural firm that became known as Johnson, Kaufmann and Coate. While a junior partner at the firm, Coate helped design the now demolished St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles and All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. When the firm dissolved in 1925, Coate started his own practice in Pasadena, which he ran until 1942. His first solo commission was the All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills. He went on to design many beautiful homes in the greater Pasadena area as well as on the Westside, including residences for golden-era Hollywood celebrities, Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck, Myrna Loy, Frank Capra and David O. Selznick.

Although best known for his Monterey Colonial style (he is credited with designing the first home of this style, the Bixby House in South Pasadena), he was also adept in other Romantic Revivals, such as English Tudor, Colonial, American Colonial and Spanish Colonial Revivals, as well as California style ranch houses. His designs reflected a sense of unity, effortless flow and simplicity and were a testament to the region’s heritage. They combined a formal street-facing exterior with an informal interior that opened to the outdoors. Plans often encompassed central hallways with direct access to public rooms, generous patios that lent themselves to outdoor living and quiet areas for privacy and serenity.

Coate became a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1937. After 17 years, he closed his practice and went to work with the engineering firm of Bechtel, McCone and Parson in Alabama until 1944. He was active in his profession until his death in 1958. His son, Roland E. Coate, Jr., followed in his father’s footsteps and became an architect.

The Estate
This Monterey Colonial residence exhibits stylistic features of a number of Colonial Revival subtypes – a mixture for which Coate was well-known in his attempt to create a native “California style.” Although the house does not present the usual full second-story balcony of most Monterey Colonials, it does have rustic brick walls, a low-slung shingled roof, shutters, wrought-iron details and simple casement windows – all of which recall the buildings of early California.

Originally a vacant 4.5 acre parcel owned by the Title Insurance & Trust Company, which owned the entire tract, the neighborhood was then known as Santa Anita Oaks or Rancho Santa Anita. Builder Philip S. Pomeroy of Pasadena constructed the residence in 1941 at a cost of $70,000. The impending construction of the house was announced in the November 22, 1940 issue of Southwest Builder and Contractor. It was described as a two-story, fifteenroom dwelling, with “brick veneer exterior; shingle roof; four-car garage with overhead doors; six baths; showers; gas furnace heating; steel casement windows; two fireplaces; marble work; ornamental iron; playhouse; barbecue; swimming pool; badminton court; tile, oak and linoleum floors; gas water heater; laundry rooms; [and] landscaping.” In 1959, when the property was sold, it was subdivided down to its current size of 1.79 acres. In 2000, the home had the distinction of being the 36th Pasadena Showcase House of Design.

The House
The home was designed for third generation furniture executive, C. Lawrence Barker of the former upscale Southland furniture chain, Barker Brothers. Mr. Barker had five children; three with his first wife, Natalie Cole, who passed away in 1920 at the age of 28, and two daughters with his second wife, Josephine Garat Barker. He shared the house with Josephine, the children and his widowed mother, Mrs. Pauline Barker.

The Barkers were well-known hosts in Arcadia. They often entertained friends and held charity events for up to 500 attendees, entertaining guests with buffet suppers and barbecues on the spacious grounds of their estate. It is said that they purposely planned for their house to be a showplace for the furniture of the family business.

Barker Brothers grew to become one of Southern California’s most popular furniture stores and one of the world’s biggest house-furnishing outfitters, with 22 branches throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Until 1984, its flagship store remained in downtown Los Angeles, and after 110 years, the chain went out of business in 1991.

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