Before World War I California Senator Frank Putnam Flint audaciously dreamed of creating the Switzerland of America, a "bastion for the Republican creme de la creme" near his San Rafael Hills lodge. Utilizing his position as president of the Los Angeles Investment Company, in 1915 he began purchasing the property surrounding his land. (Ungermann-Marshall. Flintridge, 2008) Never modest, Flint called this development near Pasadena—Flintridge. The Senator recommended the talented young architect Paul R. Williams to prospective estate buyers. Eventually the Flintridge area would have one of the largest concentrations of Williams' designed residences in Southern California-- many still unidentified today. (Personal communications, Tim Gregory, regional architectural historian. October, 2013)
In 1927 Long Beach rancher and real estate investor John Bishop Green and wife Lillian engaged Williams to design a weekend retreat for their 3.5 acre site on Commonwealth Avenue in Flintridge. (At the time Williams was described by the Los Angeles Times as "one of Southern California's best-known architects.") The Greens wanted the residence to reflect their position in society. Williams included the latest modern conveniences expected by wealthy clients (intercom system for staff, electric refrigeration, automatic water heaters) in the 2.5 story brick, plaster and shake-roofed residence. The interior of the 14-room English Tudor-style "farmhouse" featured custom metal work (images 10-11), elaborate ceilings, wood carvings (images 13, 14, 15) and masonary details. The estate included tennis courts, a swimming pool and stables with landscaping designed to "not only preserve, but add to the natural beauties of the land..." (Los Angeles Times, June 5, 1927 and Southwest Builder & Contractor, April 15, 1927)
The Greens did not use their country home long, selling it soon after the start of the Great Depression. The home passed through a series of owners (1930 - 1949) including Fred Hartley, a Nevada dry-goods dealer, and Earle Jorgensen, a steel distributor. Jorgensen, a member of Ronald Reagan's kitchen cabinet and his wife Bebe sold the house in 1945 as part of the division of property following their divorce. (The San Jose Mercury News, February 6, 2011)
In 1949 the residence was sold to the Raymond Best Patchen family. Owner of a successful multi-state heating and cooling company, the Patchens opened their home to community fund raisers. The gala events were held in the gardens surrounding the residence and would often take "the form of a patio supper dance" with "gay-colored lanterns hanging from the trees, checkered tableclothes, flickering candles on the tables and food designed to tempt the palate." (Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1956) The Patchen family would live in their Williams' designed home for another 60 years.
The residence, known as the John Bishop Green House, was selected as the 2011 Pasadena Showcase House. A major fundraiser for the arts in Pasadena, the Showcase House features an architecturally significant house for star treatment by leading Southern California interior designers and is open for public tours.
Kathryn Hofgaarden, Pasadena Showcase House benefit chairman, described the prospect of featuring this unaltered Paul R. Williams' designed home, "Many homes that have a history or that have a famous architect, they've been remodled a few times already. This house had nothing done to it—it has the original kitchen, the original cabinets...in the master bathroom it's the original tile."