Separate Paths: Separation and Independence
“Mr. Fleishhacker’s plans are not done yet, but I think I am getting it worked out. It has been the hardest work I have ever done, but I hope to make a success of it if he has the patience to wait for me.”
~Charles Sumner Greene, letter to Henry Mather Greene regarding the unbuilt “Gothic” project for Mortimer Fleishhacker Sr., December 1, 1930
After Charles had moved to Carmel in 1916, Henry continued to run the Greene and Greene practice, with Dr. Greene assisting his sons as secretary and bookkeeper. Dr. Greene sent weekly letters to Carmel in an attempt to keep Charles active in the firm’s work. In 1917 and 1918, Henry accepted design commissions for new houses in Santa Monica, Fresno, and Altadena, Calif. The Altadena house for Carrie Whitworth included decorative elements reminiscent of earlier days, including carved wall sconces and a delicate triptych of leaded-glass windows featuring a lyrical design of birds in flight. Henry also designed a rustic adobe ranch house in Porterville for Walter L. Richardson in 1929 (the same year that architect Richard Neutra designed the ultramodern Lovell “Health” house in Los Angeles), but there was little else to keep his practice busy following the Richardson commission.
Work was scarce for both brothers during the Great Depression. Charles had completed the Fleishhacker water garden in 1929 and was negotiating with his client to finish drawings for a complex “Gothic” addition to the family’s San Francisco home. Mr. Fleishhacker called a halt to the work, however, in 1932. During this period Charles designed alterations to a house near Carmel for the playwright Martin Flavin, including several schemes for a garden gate with decorative wrought iron and a redwood-paneled library, whose elaborate carvings Charles executed himself. Although commissions were few in these years, the quality of work that the brothers produced remained high.