Brothers Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene made a name for themselves in architecture, creating signature homes in the “arts and crafts” style after they relocated from their early architectural training and apprenticeship in Boston, Massachusetts to Pasadena, California, in 1893. Their private practice went on to design landmark residential projects in collaboration with highly skilled craftspeople and artists, including for houses James Culbertson, Mary Darling, Theodore Irwin Jr., Robert R. Blacker, David Gamble, William Thorsen, and Charles Pratt, during the first decade of the 20th century. The firm was officially dissolved in 1922, as each brother pursued independent projects.
Now, the Gamble House Conservancy, the nonprofit organization that oversees the iconic 1908 American Craftsman home in Pasadena designed by the Greenes, officially gifted the archives to the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Garden, where they have been housed since 1987. The collection was previously owned and administered by the USC School of Architecture and is comprised of approximately 6,000 items, including design drawings and photographs, business correspondence, family papers, notebooks, scrapbooks, artifacts, and reference books from the brothers’ libraries.
“The Greene & Greene Archives will be an important addition to the Library’s strong and diverse holdings in Southern California architecture,” said Sandra Ludig Brooke, the Avery Director of the Library at the Huntington, in a press release announcing the transfer. “The depth and range of these materials offer incredible resources to scholars, particularly those studying the golden age of Los Angeles architecture in the early 20th century, and to those with a practical interest in Greene & Greene, including property owners and preservationists.”
The library’s existing architectural archive already holds the papers of Wallace Neff, Roger S. Hong, and Samuel Lunden; the firm of Morgan, Walls & Clements; and landscape architects Florence Yoch and Lucile Council, among others.
Although the Greenes fell out of the spotlight between the World Wars, they experienced a resurgence of recognition when they were honored by the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Southern California Chapter in 1948 and by the national AIA in 1952. The Greene & Greene Archives were established in 1968 to bring together drawings, photographs, and other records of the Greenes’ work. Much of the initial collection was a gift by the Gamble family of materials related to the now-famous residence commissioned by David and Mary Gamble. Since then, some 400 additional donors have contributed to the collection — including the families of Charles and Henry Greene themselves, who have donated personal correspondence, family photographs, drawings and sketches, and numerous other materials. Other clients and later owners of Greene & Greene buildings have also given drawings and records, and additional collections within the archives document Southern California architecture more broadly.
“Acquiring the Greene & Greene Archives allows us to situate the material among our many other collections related to architecture and design, the Arts and Crafts movement, and the history of our region more generally,” said Erin Chase, assistant curator of architecture and photography at The Huntington, in the press release. “Having the collection fully integrated into the Library gives us the ability to link it to our online systems, making it more findable and searchable, and puts it into context within our collecting strengths as a whole.” A finding aid to the archives is available on the Online Archive of California database.