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Replicas Won't Do for Blacker House

January 21, 1988

Regarding Barton English's plans to strip the historic Blacker House of its original doors and replace them with replicas (Times, Jan. 7): While it is true that English owns the deed to the Blacker House, he doesn't own the house any more than an art collector owns his current collection. He has been entrusted to preserve and maintain one of the Greene brothers' finest examples of bungalow architecture.

He has no right to remove the stained-glass doors, which demonstrate so well the appreciation of nature that the Craftsman movement represented. English has already stripped the house of nearly 50 light fixtures, presumably for their monetary value. Now will he sell off another piece of California's architectural heritage for a few more dollars?

In 1909, while the Greene brothers were completing the Blacker House, Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin wrote in The Craftsman magazine:

"Perhaps the most fruitful source whence charm of design arises in anything, is the grace with which it serves its purpose and conforms to its surroundings. How many of the beautiful features of the work of past ages, which we now arbitrarily reproduce and copy, arose out of the skillful and graceful way in which some old artist-craftsman, or chief masons, got over a difficulty! If, instead of copying these features when and where the cause for them does not exist, we would rather emulate the spirit in which they were produced, there would be more hope of again seeing life and vigor in our architecture and design."

A replica is a replica, no matter how exact. Mr. English, don't destroy a museum by replacing its jewel with paste and worthless glass.

MARCIA HIBSCH COPPESS

Arcadia

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