In 1906, Arthur H Woodward, President of International Register Company (now Intermatic Corporation) of Chicago, Illinois and his wife commissioned prominent architects Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey to build their Altadena, California home. The Woodward's had very specific requests about the construction of their home. They requested that the home be made entirely of reinforced concrete and must be made to be entirely fireproof. This was due to Mrs Woodward being a survivor of the Iroquois Theater fire of 1903 in Chicago. Furthermore, the doors to the first floor all open outward allowing for easy egress.
Woodward family accounts recall that Mrs Woodward was saved from being trampled to death due to someone seeing her arm waving underneath the victims of the fire. It was her request that the house be made as fireproof as possible, and since they were moving to California, it was also constructed to withstand an earthquake. It is estimated that the Woodward house and surrounding property cost in excess of $100000 to construct in 1907.
Altadena's early twentieth century development took place primarily between 1887 and 1910. The short-lived Pasadena Land Company, which founded and initially laid out the community, saw that the first spurt of development was Altadena's most influential and wealthiest residents. They constructed large, architecturally significant homes. The Zane Grey Estate is the largest remaining house with an estimated square footage exceeding 12,000 square feet. The square footage of the original 1907 house was 7240.
The first major modification was in 1920 when the house was purchased by Zane Grey. Shortly after Zane Grey acquired the property, he added a seven hundred square foot writing studio as a third floor, directly over the foyer. The third floor was designed to provide complete privacy to Grey while writing. The third floor was designed in two sections that are separated by a support beam. The ceiling of the third floor is barrel-vaulted and comes together at the support beam. The room has built in bookcases that line the perimeter of much of the studio. Most of Grey's novels, articles and periodicals from 1920 until his death in 1939 were written in the east wing. His desk and famous Morris chair were positioned in front of the fireplace, although some early photographs show him facing the large picture window. - NRHP, 9 September 2002