The Legacy of Greene and Greene
“Architects much honored in your homeland for great contributions to design, sensitive and knowing builders who reflected with grace and craftsmanship emerging values in modern living in the western states, formulators of a new and native architecture.“
~American Institute of Architects, award presented to Greene and Greene, 1952
Virtually forgotten by the profession and the press during the 1920s and 1930s, the Greenes’ work was “rediscovered” in the 1940s by a small group of architects and critics who rejected the notion that good modernist design could only come from Europe. The Greenes’ architecture, as that of Frank Lloyd Wright, would be perceived in a fresh context after World War II. No longer portrayed as a vestige of the past, their work was suddenly promoted as a forward-looking inspiration for American modernism. Elizabeth Gordon, editor of House Beautiful, championed them in the pages of her influential magazine, along with the work of younger California architects who also worked in wood, including Harwell Hamilton Harris (1903–1990) and William W. Wurster (1895–1973). In 1947, Maynard Parker, a photographer for House Beautiful, documented much of the Greenes’ work while it was still in the hands of original clients and retained original furnishings. This body of work, which portrays the Greenes’ houses as modernist forebears, is now in The Huntington’s photo archives to serve scholars who will study the Greenes’ legacy.
International recognition of Greene and Greene grew after they received special awards from the American Institute of Architects, first from the Southern California chapter in 1948, then at the national level in 1952. Since then, designers as seemingly disparate as architect Frank Gehry and woodworker Sam Maloof have looked to Greene and Greene for inspiration, or perhaps to absorb the native beauty of their work.
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