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The Arts and Crafts movement was based on a philosophy of handwork and creative expression. It was promoted by a group of craftsmen, artists, designers, and architects. The movement began in England and then spread to the United States; it started around 1890 and ended around 1929. It attracted many followers who lived simpler quiet lifestyles in homes that reflected the popular Arts and Crafts style.
The Arts and Crafts movement was a reaction to "industrialization," or the shift from making goods, chairs for example, by hand at home to making them with power machines in factories. In the late 1800s, Industrialization was responsible for the movement of huge numbers of Americans from farms and small towns to cities.
Most new city residents earned enough money to live comfortably. But they weren't as happy as they had hoped to be. Cities were crowded and dirty. Life was hectic and more complicated. City dwellers missed the slower pace of life in the countryside. They couldn't go back to the past, but they could put some of the simplicity of the old days back into their lives. They could live in homes where there was peace and solitude, and where values from the past, such as the love of beautiful objects skillfully created by hand, were honored. This kind of thinking made the Arts and Crafts movement very popular.
Followers of the Arts and Crafts movement disliked homes cluttered* both inside and out with Victorian decorations. Arts and Crafts houses were built with natural, unpainted materials: wood, stone, and brick. Rooms were painted in soft green and gold colors accented with the natural color of wood cabinets and doors. They were sparsely** filled with only a few well-placed objects-handmade furniture, embroidered cloth, pottery, baskets, rugs, and metal lamps. It was soothing and peaceful inside an Arts and Crafts home.
* Too many objects gathered together in one space.
** Very few objects in one space.
Love and Marriage
The first years of the twentieth century were happy times for the Greene family. Both Charles and Henry fell in love, married, and started families of their own. Henry married Emeline Dart in Illinois, her home state. Charles married Alice White in Pasadena. Henry and Emeline honeymooned in the Midwest and then returned to Pasadena. Henry ran the office while Charles and Alice took a steamship to England for a long honeymoon. Alice had grown up in England and she must have wanted to show Charles her childhood home.
Charles enjoyed the charming English country houses and their flower gardens. The houses had a very natural look. They were built with wooden timbers in their natural color, rough hand-cut shingles, bricks in the natural clay color, and cement, which was textured with sand or small pebbles. These English houses were representative of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Charles and Henry didn't intend to stay in Pasadena. They wanted to visit their parents and then open their own architecture office in the Midwest. But Pasadena offered opportunities they might not easily find in Chicago or Kansas City. Charles and Henry's parents encouraged them to stay and open an architecture office, and they did.
Pasadena was a new city with a strong spirit. It was founded in 1886, just seven years before Charles and Henry's arrival. Residents had new ideas about making their community better. They believed in the importance of education, art, music, and literature, and Pasadena had a newspaper, a library, and good public schools.
Pasadena was growing by leaps and bounds. It seemed that the population doubled every few years. Many newcomers were wealthy. They wanted large attractive homes of the best quality. When Charles and Henry arrived, Pasadena had only four architects. It made sense to open an office where there was a steady supply of new clients and a small number of trained architects.
Southern California had excellent local materials to build with. There were smooth gray river stones in all sizes that were easily found near a large natural Arroyo Seco.* Lumber, including first-growth redwood and cedar, could be shipped from Northern California and Oregon. Local factories made bricks of the finest quality.
* The Spanish words for "dry river bed."
Pasadena's extraordinary geography provided a background for building fine homes. It had amazing views of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Arroyo Seco, and in the distance, the Pacific Ocean.
Many plants and trees grew in the warm climate. There were groves of orange and lemon trees, and acres of grape vineyards. Gigantic old oak trees, sycamores, roses, wisteria, and flowers of every size and description grew freely. In fact, so many roses grew that some people didn't paint their houses. They simply planted roses that grew like weeds and covered the walls and sometimes even the roof of the house.