Architect brothers Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene, educated at MIT and apprenticed in Boston, moved to Pasadena, California, and there shed their neo-Colonial and Queen Anne motifs to explore the possibilities of a true craftsman built home.
This came after a trip to England by Charles in 1901; he brought back Arts & Crafts ideals a decade before the movement might have reached the West Coast. The brothers took an artistic leap, attempting to synthesize the best of many worlds into a new California vernacular: the adobe and Mission forms of the region, the rugged Shingle Style of Richardson in the Northeast, and the Italian and Japanese architecture they had studied.
The Greenes picked the chalet, a folk carpenter’s dream, as their base. Charles Greene rejected revival styles in favor of a type inspired by Japanese timber-frame construction.
Their goal, writes Arts & Crafts historian Bruce Smith, was “to develop a singular style of architecture appropriate to California’s climate and lifestyle...massive pilings of arroyo stone and clinker brick, Japonesque lanterns, verandahs and pergolas, open courtyards and shaded porches, and low-pitched rooflines with rafter tails.”
Their “ultimate bungalows” include the Gamble House (a museum), the Blacker House, and the Thorsen residence. The firm spanned the years 1894–1922. Much credit for the woodwork—finely proportioned, with elaborate joinery—belongs to the architects’ collaborators Peter Hall, a builder, and his brother John Hall, who ran the millworks shop.