Greene & Greene Virtual Archives
Robert Roe Blacker House
Pasadena, California, 1907-09
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Robert Roe Blacker Estate
Pasadena, California

Robert Roe Blacker, a native of Brantford, Ontario, made a fortune in the booming lumber industry of Michigan during his nearly forty-year career. His second wife, Nellie Celeste Canfield Blacker, was the eldest daughter of John Canfield, another successful lumber baron. In 1906, at age 60, Robert Blacker and his wife retired to Pasadena, where they commissioned the nationally known team of Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey to design a large residence for them. This client-architect relationship did not work out, however, and the Greenes were soon called in to carry out the project. The Greenes chose to site the house in the northwest quadrant of the approximately five-acre Blacker property, on high ground near the corner of Hillcrest and Wentworth Avenues in Pasadena’s exclusive Oak Knoll development. The positioning allowed for sweeping views from the house towards the lower reaches of the lot to the south, and presented numerous opportunities for dramatic landscaping. Construction of the main residence commenced in late spring of 1907, following completion of the garage, keeper’s cottage and lath house. Building contractors Dawson and Daniels had been hired to construct the out buildings and frame the main house. In scale and quality, the Blacker house was unlike anything the Greenes had ever undertaken. At their disposal was a seemingly limitless budget and Mr. Blacker's connections within the lumber business made it possible for the Greenes to have access to the finest quality woods for framing, interiors, and furniture. The elevations drew on basic forms they had developed in earlier drawings for the Pitcairn, Ford, Irwin and Cole houses, and Charles Greene's own house had provided further opportunity to refine the specific wood vocabulary to be used in the Blacker house. The Blacker house stands today as one of the undisputed masterpieces of the Greene & Greene firm.