The Charles Warren Brown House dates from the time when the community of Ocean Park was only a few decades old, but growing fast. Ocean Park’s development had begun in the 1880s when the first tracts were subdivided. By 1902, there were about 700 residences in the area. Each year brought new settlers and many elected to build their homes in the newly popular Craftsman style. The Charles Warren Brown House is a well-preserved example of this style, displaying many of the key features associated with the Craftsman ethic.
The Craftsman style was derived from the English Arts and Crafts Movement which had begun in the late nineteeth century. Several variants of Craftsman architecture exist, but all adhered to some central values. Principal among them were a devotion to honest materials, an appreciation for the handmade, and a desire to harmonize buildings with nature. Adherents to the Craftsman style also preferred decoration based on structural or useful elements of the house, as opposed to, for example, the copiously applied surface ornament so prevalent in Victorian architecture.
This landmark fits beautifully with the Craftsman ethic in that it was an original, handmade, creation of its owner—Charles Warren Brown. Although little is known about Brown, he appears to have been active in civic affairs and served briefly as a Santa Monica City Councilperson. The spacious house he built features a steeply-pitched roof punctuated by two substantial gables, one sheltering a window and the other a small balcony. Structural elements, including exposed rafters under the eaves and wooden brackets supporting gables, serve as decoration. Likewise, the double beams supporting the roof over the porch add to the attractiveness of the overall structure. A handsome, wide front door graced with a large pane of clear beveled glass makes for a welcoming entrance to the residence. Meanwhile, clapboard siding on exterior walls contrasts with rugged-looking shingles on the roof, creating textural interest. In line with Craftsman ideas, the house provides ample opportunity to interact with the outdoors via the shaded front porch, second story-balcony, and numerous windows that allowed both light and fresh air into the home.
The Charles Warren Brown House, together with many other notable structures along Third Street, contributes to the unique look of this historic neighborhood and tells of the time when early residents built Ocean Park from the ground up.