The estate’s architect, Roland E. Coate Sr., (1890-1958) was one of the area’s most well-regarded architects. After attending Earlham College for two years, he transferred to Cornell University where he completed his degree in architecture in 1914. After school, Coate settled in New York and found work at the Trowbridge and Ackerman architectural firm. During WWI, Coate served as a 1st Lieutenant with the American Expeditionary Forces. In 1919 Coate moved to Los Angeles and joined the architectural firm that became known as Johnson, Kaufmann and Coate (with partners Paul Williams and Gordon B. Kaufmann.) While he was a junior partner in the firm, Coate helped to design St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles and All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. By 1925, the firm had disbanded and Coate opened his own firm in Los Angeles. His first solo project was the All Saints Episcopal church in Beverly Hills. Other local public buildings include the Pasadena Town Club and Caltech’s Hale Solar Laboratory. Eventually, Coate opened an office in Pasadena and continued to design until his death in 1958.
Coate was primarily a residential architect who was very much concerned with the ease and flow of his designs and a sense of unity and simplicity. Most of his designs present a formal exterior to the street; but, their interiors are much more informal and open to the outdoors. His houses were known for their central hallways with direct access to all public rooms and generous patios that leant themselves to outdoor living. He went on to design many beautiful homes in the greater Pasadena area and in West Los Angeles, some for prominent clients such as Myrna Loy, Frank Capra, David O. Selznick, Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck.
Roland Coate is credited with having been able to design as competently in the English Tudor and American Colonial Revival styles as he did in the Spanish Colonial Revival modes in which he specialized. He was an early proponent of Monterey Colonial, the style for which he became best known. In fact, Coate is credited with designing the first Monterey Colonial home in Southern California - the Bixby House on Garfield Avenue in South Pasadena. His Monterey Colonial houses are especially graceful testimony to his talent. They testify to the vitality of an architecture correlated with the region's environment and heritage.
Located in Arcadia, California, the house is approximately 13 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley and at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains.
This Monterey Colonial residence exhibits stylistic features of a number of Colonial Revival subtypes – a mixture for which the architect was well-known in his attempt to create a native “California style”. Although it does not present the usual full second-story balcony of most Monterey Colonials, the house does have rustic brick walls, a low-slung shingled roof, shutters, wrought-iron, and simple casement windows – all of which recall the buildings of early California.
Originally a vacant 4.5 acre parcel owned by the Title Insurance & Trust Company, which owned the entire tract, the neighborhood was then familiarly known as Santa Anita Oaks or Rancho Santa Anita. Builder Philip S. Pomeroy of Pasadena constructed the residence in 1941 at a cost of $70,000. The impending construction of the house was announced in the November 22, 1940 issue of Southwest Builder and Contractor. It was described as a two-story, fifteen-room dwelling, with “brick veneer exterior; shingle roof; four-car garage [with] overhead doors; six baths; showers; gas furnace heating; steel casement windows; two fireplaces; marble work; ornamental iron; playhouse; barbecue; swimming pool; badminton court; tile, oak and linoleum floors; gas water heater; laundry rooms; [and] landscaping.” In 1959, when the property was sold it was subdivided down to its current size of 1.79 acres. In 2000, the home had the distinction of being the 36th Pasadena Showcase House of Design.
The home was designed for Lawrence Barker, a furniture-store executive, who shared the house with his wife, Josephine G. Barker, and their children, and Mr. Barker’s widowed mother Mrs. Pauline Barker.
After moving to Arcadia, the Barkers became well-known hosts. They often entertained friends and held charity events, for up to 500 attendees, that featured buffet suppers and barbecues on the spacious grounds of their home. It is said they purposely planned for their home to be a showplace of furniture from Barker Brothers.
Barker Brothers grew to become one of Southern California’s most well-known furniture stores, with 22 branches throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Until 1984 its flagship store remained in downtown Los Angeles, most recently at 818 West Seventh Street, which covered 23 acres of floor space. The Pasadena store was located at 301 South Lake Avenue (southeast corner Del Mar Blvd.). After over one hundred years, the chain went out of business in 1991.