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Yesterday six museums in Los Angeles and Pasadena were free for MOTA day. What is MOTA day? It stands for Museums of the Arroyo. MOTA day takes place on a Sunday every May and it a great way to explore some hidden gems in the LA area. Not only can you get free admission to the six museums, but you can also park for free by one of the museums and take a shuttle to the other ones. The six Museums of the Arroyo are the Gamble House, Lummis Home, Heritage Square, L.A. Police Museum, Pasadena Museum of History, and the Autry’s Historic Southwest Museum. The first place that I visited was the Gamble House in Pasadena. You might have seen this place before as Doc Brown’s House from Back to the Future.
My original plan was to try and make it to at least three of the museums. However, due to how hot it was the Gamble House ended up being the only one of the six museums that I visited. Sometime in the future I’ll try and make it to the other five. Of course, since it was a free day there was a line to get inside the house. Even though there was a crowd I was impressed with how well organized everything was. There was a table with water and information before you went inside. Once I made it to the porch I had to cover my shoes with booties and listen to the rules. The house, built in 1908, is a historical landmark and the docents are very protective of it. You cannot touch anything and you are not able to take pictures.
I was disappointed when I found out that we couldn’t take pictures on the inside because of I wanted to share what I saw with you. If you are really curious what the inside looks like you will just have to come do the Gamble House tour for yourself. The house was built by the Greene brothers for the Gamble family. Have you heard of Proctor and Gamble? Since the family was well off there was no budget for this gorgeous craftsman style home.
Immediately the home reminded me of The Grand Californian Hotel and Spa at The Disneyland Resort. Every room had a docent to tell us about the family and the home. In the entryway, two hidden doors were pointed out to us. There are no handles so you wouldn’t know upon first glance that two panels on the walls were in fact doors. If you were to push on one of the doors it would reveal a closet. Another panel would reveal a passage to the kitchen. That way the maid or the cook could quickly move from the kitchen to the front door.
Throughout the home, I was impressed by how advanced things were considering it was built in 1908. The annunciator was one of the coolest things that I saw. There was a box in the kitchen where the servants could see which family member needed them. If Aunt Julia buzzed the kitchen from her room the box would make some kind of indication that Aunt Julia needed them. Julia was Mrs. Gamble’s sister who lived in the house the longest of any of the family members.
In the dining room, Aunt Julia’s chair at the table was pointed out to us. Aunt Julia was 4′ 7″ so her chair was higher than the others so that she could be on the same level as everyone else at the table. Since the chair would cause her feet to dangle a small stool was placed by her chair for her to put her feet on. Another detail about the dining room that I loved is that there a button under the rug near where Mrs. Gamble sat. When she was ready for the staff to bring out dessert she could press the button with her foot.
The house currently belongs to the city of Pasadena and the USC School of Architecture. Two USC students live in the house which has got to be a really cool experience for them. A lot of hard work is put in to make sure that the house stays well preserved. The deal that the family made when they left the house to Pasadena & USC is that if it is not well taken care of it should be torn down.
I was excited to find out that the Gamble House has been used as a filming location. The interior of the home can be seen in Zathura. The carriage house, which is now a bookstore, was used as Doc Brown’s house from Back to the Future.
If you get a chance to check out the Gamble House I would highly recommend it. Especially if you’ll be in Pasadena anyways. Other places in the area that I recommend checking out are the Rose Bowl, the Pasadena Playhouse, Descanso Gardens, and the LA Arboretum.