City of Pasadena
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Resource Summary
Resource Summary
Address: 1160 CHATEAU Rd APN: 5708-023-002 [print]

This property is designated by the city as an individual historic resource (see "designation type" field for the specific city designation type). *
Address: 1160 CHATEAU Rd
City: Pasadena State: CA
Zip Code: County: Los Angeles
County Code: 37
Historic Name: John Kelsey Residence Common Name: John Kelsey Residence
APN: 5708-023-002 Zoning:
Building Sq. Ft: Site Size (Acres): 0.630
Year Built: 1962 Documented District:
District: Property Status: Designated
Resource Description:
Completed in 1963, the one-story, 2,600 square-foot house is a high-style example of mid-century Modern design. Set on a hillside lot of slightly more than one-half acre, the flat-roofed house, H-shape in plan, is horizontal and symmetrical composition. Its primary elevation, facing Chateau Road, is set behind a paved forecourt of poured concrete (originally stained black) accented with gridded panels of beach-pebble aggregate. The façade is as a long window-less wall with wooden center doors—ornamented with cast-metal pulls—and flanked to the north and south by thin overhanging canopies. A garage, set beneath an overhanging canopy and configured at a right angle to the wall, encloses the parking court to the north. The south side of the parking court is open.

In plan, the house bears the imprint of one-story Roman houses from the era of the early empire. Its outer doors open to an enclosed interior court (atrium), which has an opening to the sky (compluvium). The atrium opens to a glazed “reception” room (oecus), which joins the two elongated wings of the H-shape plan. To the west of the center room and on axis with the main entrance is a rectangular open-air pool (implulvium). Overlaying the Roman plan is a Japanese-influenced aesthetic of austerity and simplicity expressed in horizontality, exposed wood framing, teak paneling and cabinetry, sliding doors, and full-height windows. The landscaping, including the red maple trees at the outer entrance, further emphasizes a Japanese theme. The modernity of the design, evoking the International Style, is evident in the white outer walls finished in plaster, the extended canopies, the large expanses of glass, the intermingling of the exterior and the interior, and the rectilinear form of the house.

The heavily landscaped surrounding, the sharp curve of Chateau Road, the canopy of nearby trees, and the views to the south across the Annandale Golf Course further dramatize the setting of the house. The house announces itself as a luminous white pavilion against a backdrop of trees and greenery.

John Kelsey, Architect.
John Field Kelsey (b. 1925) is best known for his collaboration with Thornton Ladd (b. 1924) in the locally based firm of Ladd & Kelsey. Organized in 1959, this collaboration between two USC-trained architects produced designs for numerous commercial projects during the 1960s, including the Pasadena Museum of Art (1969—now Norton Simon) and the First City Bank building at 123 S. Lake Avenue, as well as a smaller number of institutional projects (e.g., the Herrick Memorial Chapel at Occidental College, 1964). They produced fewer designs for residences, but with the passing of time these designs now appear to be their most celebrated work. On several occasions, their designs were featured in architectural journals with national and international readership. During the 1970s, however, the firm was unable to sustain the high profile and acclaim of its earlier years and never recaptured the brilliance of its first decade.

Working individually or in collaboration, Ladd and Kelsey designed at least four houses in Pasadena. Only Kelsey’s name, however, appears on the building permit (dated 1962) for the house at 1160 Chateau Road, which he designed for his family. Similarly, for another residence that he designed for himself at 110 Los Altos Drive, only his name appears on the building permit. This house, off San Rafael, is close 1160 Chateau Road.
Legal Description:
Primary Architectural Style: International /Modern Style
Secondary Architectural Style:
Architect: John F. Kelsey
Builder: John F. Kelsey
Context: Recent Past 
Original Owner: John F. Kelsey
Original Use: Single Family Residence
Original Location:
Demolished: no
Moved: no
Date Moved: n/a
Designation Date: 06/13/2005
Mills Act: A contract and work program
was recorded in 12/29/2005

* This is a simplified statement of the property's status. Please review the NRHP Status Code field on the search screen for official, adopted status language.