History, Residents, and Architecture

The Harris House, Glendale, CA in 1904
The Harris House as it appeared in 1904. From the brochure “Glendale – A Place For Homes” issued by the Glendale Improvement Association.

Overview

The Harris House, Glendale, CA in 1904
The Harris House as it appears today.

The Harris House is a two-story, single-family residence located in Glendale, California at the southwest corner of Wilson Avenue and Cedar Street. The home was built in 1902. It is an outstanding and remarkably intact example of residential architecture in early Glendale. A comparison between the current structure and a photo published in a 1904 brochure produced by the Glendale Improvement Association suggests that little has changed over the last 110 years.

Stylistically, the house is a transitional hybrid that emerged as ornate Victorian forms were rejected in favor of the more organic, horizontal qualities of the Craftsman style. It was built before Glendale’s 1906 incorporation and its original address, 304 W 3rd Street, reflects the time when the city’s east-west streets were numbered and north-south streets were indicated by letters.

Architecture of The Harris House

The Harris House is a 3,446 square-foot single-family residence that is a very distinctive element of its neighborhood. Its design reflects the stylistic shift that occurred as the late Victorian architectural styles transitioned into the simpler Craftsman style. The City’s 2007 Craftsman Survey Historic Context provides some background about this shift:

This sub-style was generally constructed during the 1900s to the early 1910s when there were holdover elements of nineteenth century design. This style is not commonly found in Glendale, unlike other Southern California cities such as Pomona where it was popular.

Typically, the Transitional still retains a strong vertical emphasis on the façade, and Victorian-era design elements such as bay windows, long narrow windows and decorative knee brackets and rafters. What generally differentiates this type of residence from a Victorian-era residence is its Craftsman features such as stonework on porch pedestals, horizontally-oriented windows surrounded by wide casings,sometimes a hipped roof with a squat dormer at the façade side of the roof, and rafter tails under the roof line.

Victorian post detail on the front porch of the Historic Harris House.Overall, The Harris House is more evocative of Victorian style homes, but it features Craftsman features such as dominant gabled roof volumes, a prominent front porch that is part of the main body of the house, and exposed rafter tails.

The house features steeply-pitched gabled roofs with bands of overlapping sawtooth shingles and corbelled and denticulated (teeth-like) window boxes at the gable ends. A bracketed and shaped lintel also adorns the east window on the north gable face. Slightly projecting from the northwest corner of the building, the porch is defined by posts rising to shaped brackets and a wood balustrade topped by a curved railing (that does not appear to be original). Other decorative elements in the porch include a denticulate frieze, articulated joints, and sawn newel posts with a carved floral pattern.

The walls are clad with horizontal wood siding and saw-tooth shingles over a brick foundation. The wood front door features a single large pane of glass and appears to be original. Fenestration primarily consists of original wood one-over-one, picture windows, casement, and hopper windows throughout the house. Window surrounds feature wide wood trim and sills. Most of the windows and surrounds appear to be original. There are two, new aluminum sliding windows at the basement, facing the south toward the rear. The roof features a combination of gabled and hipped forms and is clad with asphalt shingles. Numerous knee brackets support the eaves at the gable ends. The roof also features a brick chimney and three shed-roofed dormers to the south.

The Harris House is an excellent example of the period and one of the most intact and rare examples of its kind within the city.

Residents

The first owner of the house was Harriet Harris, a widow who lived in the house until 1917 and for whom The Harris House is named.

There are some gaps in the subsequent ownership history, but it is known that Anna M. McCrea and her daughter Catherine lived in the house between 1921 and 1942.

Mary Roseann Reese acquired the house in 1942 and ran a boarding house for women there. The upstairs bathroom recalls that time with its duel toilet stalls and duel showers.

It was bought by Eileen Davitian in 1981 and she and husband John Manus sold it to the current owner, Robert Coshland, in 2013.

Historic Designation

The Harris House was listed on the Glendale Register of Historic Resources in December, 2014 as Historic Resource No. 110.

 

Portions of the above content were adapted from a Glendale Historic Preservation Commission Staff Report.