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Louis B. Easton

Louis B. Easton, Architect [1864-1921]

Louis B. Easton [†] was born at Halfday Lake, Illinois, and educated in the public schools there. After graduating from high school he went to the Illinois Normal School in Bloomington and received a teaching certificate in 1890. While working for his degree, he met Honor Hubbard, a sister of Elbert Hubbard, the self-proclaimed apostle of William Morris in America, and they were married. He took a job as an instructor in manual training at the high school at Lemont, Illinois, and was made principal of it in 1893. His evenings were spent in his workshop where he designed and built sturdy furniture. Several of his pieces were displayed at a handicraft exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1903.

About that time he became ill, apparently of a respiratory ailment. In 1902 he left Lemont and moved his family to Pasadena. He soon recovered his health and, after consulting a pattern book, built his own house on Marengo Street. He received many compliments on it and was emboldened to try his own design for a handsome Arts and Crafts house on the corner lot next door. Since it sold quickly, Easton decided to become an architectural designer as well as a furniture maker.

The architect Myron Hunt thought so well of Easton's work that he engaged him to build a beach house for the Hunt family at Clifton-by-the-Sea. Other Southern Californians, interested in roughing it, chose Easton to design their houses, Easton encouraging them to participate in the construction. Such a person was Carl Curtis, an electrical engineer turned chicken farmer. He and Easton built a sort of compound of rustic bungalows off Washington Street in Altadena. Another client wrote in The Craftsman magazine (1912) in reference to her Easton-designed house: "There are no fake beams or posts in the house; every stick of timber is just what it appears to be, and does just what it seems to be doing."

Advertising himself as getting a "maximum of effect with the minimum of expense," Easton built about twenty-five houses in Pasadena and its vicinity. The coming of World War I meant less building activity, however, and Easton moved with his family to a ranch near Anaheim, where he farmed until his death.

† Lauren Bricker, Robert Winter, and Janet Tearnan, Single-Family Residential Architecture of the Arts and Crafts Period in Pasadena, 1895-1918, nomination document, 1998, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.