Commissioned by the three unmarried sisters of James Culbertson
in 1911, the Cordelia Culbertson house in Pasadena's fashionable
Oak Knoll district was the largest commission received by
the firm at that time, at just over $150,000. Situated across
the street from the Robert R. Blacker house, the Culbertson
house, with its light-colored Gunite finish, green-tiled roof,
and single-story silhouette, it stands in stark contrast to
its visually more massive, dark-shingled neighbor. The clients,
Cordelia, (the eldest sister and the official client on record)
Kate and Margaret, wanted all the rooms on one level, and
the bedrooms on an upper level. The problem was solved by
locating the bedroom wing on the brink of a small canyon overlooking
the water gardens on the wooded slope below.
The Greenes returned to the courtyard plan, wrapping the principal
rooms around a central garden courtyard. The formal entry
hall, luxurious wall finishes of sculptured plaster, velour
fabric, and exotic marble, all set off by dark angular wood
furniture designed by Charles Greene, lent an urbane elegance
to the interior. Inside and out, Chinese and Classical motifs
appear, while the water gardens evoke Italian precedents.
By 1917, the Culbertson sisters could no longer afford the
upkeep and sold the property. The new owner, Mrs. Dudley P.
Allen of Cleveland, Ohio, (soon remarried as Mrs. Francis
Fleury Prentiss) continued to commission work from the Greenes,
most notably Charles Greene, who painted five scenic panels
in the entrance hall, and designed additional furnishings.
Elisabeth Prentiss also commissioned from Henry Greene a lath
house and other garden-related work, including a planting
plan for a new lot that she had annexed to her property. These
commissions, most of them for minor alterations and repairs,
continued into the late 1930s.