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Bruce Johnson

Author, Columnist and Director of the
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at The Grove Park Inn since 1988

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The Passing of an Arts and Crafts Friend

The Passing of an Arts and Crafts Friend
Randell Makinson, for decades the acknowledged expert on the work of architects Charles and Henry Greene, died of cancer on August 13th in Pasadena, Calif. He was 81.

Makinson, who graduated from the USC School of Architecture, returned to the university in 1958 and stayed until 1992. He was a member of the architecture faculty and then director of The Gamble House, the 1908 Greene & Greene masterpiece that he helped save from demolition at a time when the Greenes’ work was relatively unknown. Upon retirement, Makinson was given the title of director emeritus.

Makinson championed the house and its significance to the city of Pasadena and the School of Architecture, and it was deeded to both by Gamble family heirs in 1966. Under Makinson’s 26-year directorship, The Gamble House became an international model for authentic architectural sites, containing nearly all of its original, architect-designed furnishings. Makinson also developed a model volunteer organization, made the house accessible to the public and scholars, and positioned the house and its operations to be economically independent. The Makinson model has been used on properties in Chicago, Buffalo, N.Y., New York City, Seattle and other American cities as well as in Scotland and Japan.

Another initiative undertaken by Makinson was the establishment of The Huntington Library’s permanent Greene and Greene Exhibit and Archives. He also worked on important Arts and Crafts and architecture exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Cleveland Museum of Art, among others.

He authored six books on the Greene brothers and their architecture, as well as chapters in other books and publications and received many awards including an honorary American Institute of Architects (AIA) designation in the late 1990s, an honorary Millennium Recognition Design Award from the Pasadena/Foothill chapter of the AIA, a key to the city of Pasadena in 1992 and a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the USC Architectural Guild in 1997.

Makinson was born on June 29, 1932, in Los Angeles and was raised in Glendale, Calif. He is survived by a sister, several cousins, a niece and a nephew, seven great-nieces and great-nephews, and several godchildren.

A few colleagues and friends wished to share their thoughts on Randell's work in the Arts and Crafts and Gamble House communities.

Paula Sigman Lowery, President of the Docent Council at the Gamble House: "We are grateful to Randell for his steadfast devotion to The Gamble House and the works of Greene and Greene. Without him, none of us would have the privilege of serving the national treasure that is The Gamble House."

Ted Bosley: "More than anyone, Randell Makinson helped to bring national attention to The Gamble House and architects Greene and Greene from the 1960s to the present. Through his numerous books, lectures and involvement with exhibitions, Makinson helped laymen and professionals alike to understand the role the Greenes played within the Arts and Crafts movement, and in the process, he helped us to better understand the movement itself. His enthusiasm for all things Greene and Greene was infectious, leading to a career devoted to promoting their legacy in architecture and the decorative arts of the turn of the last century. As director of The Gamble House from 1966 to 1992, Makinson helped to define the viability of historic site administration. He perfected the art of building a dedicated volunteer organization, which continues to provide a wide range of services from touring to educational programming. Randell was ever the Arts and Crafts advocate, and remained an active scholar and collector throughout his lifetime."

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 24th, at 9:00 a.m. at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles. A luncheon will follow at 11:00 a.m. in Pasadena. Both the service and the luncheon are open to all those who wish to pay their respects.

In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested in his name to The Gamble House, 4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena, Calif., 91103.
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