The Journal of San Diego History
Summer 1975, Volume 21, Number 3
James E. Moss, Editor

Book Reviews

David J. Weber, Book Review Editor

A Guide to the Work of Greene and Greene. By Randell L. Makinson. Peregrine Smith, Inc., 1974. Architectural guide. Illustrations and drawings. 65 pages. $4.95.

Reviewed by Robert Mosher, FAIA, Architect, San Diego.

Travel almost anywhere in the world and one need only mention that he is from California to evoke from his foreign companions a flood of pleasant, if not wholly accurate, images. Our state is usually seen as a warm and sunlit paradise of green and yellow rolling hills spotted with live oaks, endless miles of orange groves, sparkling white beaches, and blue seas. Our towns and cities are, in the foreigner’s eye, designed in fresh new ways, free from traditional restraints. This is the great dream of California, and it is perpetuated in spite of the advent of smog, freeways, automobile congestion, and endless miles of suburban tracts cut ruthlessly into the rolling hills. The reality of the impact of the automobile and import of phoney values cannot blot out the beauty of the state or diminish the joy of freedom we have to live open and creative lives.

There was one particular time when the attraction of California was especially compelling and drew a remarkable number of free and creative artists, architects, musicians, writers, and philosophers. It was the turn of the century. The air was clean, the pace was slow, and a kind of romantic idealism prevailed in an atmosphere of hopefulness. The arts and crafts movement was in full swing, inspired and encouraged by the ideas of Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin.

Architects such as Irving Gill in San Diego, Bernard Maybeck in Berkeley, and Charles and Henry Greene in Pasadena, found sympathetic clients. The mood and time were right, and these men were there to bring forth significant work which was to set in motion an architectural movement which has come to be recognized throughout the world as wholly American.

For a time, between the flowering of this work and the acceptance of the “modern movement” after World War II, the work of these architects took a somewhat secondary place in favor of more stylistic trends. Now, however, there is a growing renewal of interest in and appreciation of the work of these great men, particularly of Charles and Henry Greene. A number of fine books have been published showing their work in both photographs and drawings. However, until now there has not been a comprehensive and thoroughly researched listing of Greene and Greene projects.

In his book, A Guide to the Work of Greene and Greene, Randell Makinson documents the entire known works of the Greene brothers built since 1894. Projects are listed chronologically, with job numbers (where known), client’s name, original street address and, where applicable, any subsequent change in street name or numbers noted. Additions and alterations are also noted and, where structures no longer exist, they are identified as “demolished”. A number of photographs and drawings are also included, as well as a brief introduction.

The book will well serve those who wish to make a serious study of the work of the Greene brothers, as well as aid in identification and preservation of the surviving buildings. It is a welcome addition to the growing volumes devoted to this important work. The publisher notes that a second book by the same author, Greene and Greene, Architects, will be available in 1976.