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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Art and Craft of Green Gables: A California Estate

The Arts and Crafts movement gained momentum in Britain during the 1880s and was focused on uniting the natural landscape to architecture, the garden, and the home. Those at the forefront of the movement in England included architect Philip Webb (1831-1915) who was commissioned by the founder of the Arts and Crafts movement William Morris (1834-1896) to design Red House and its surrounding gardens in 1859. Red House became one of the most influential designs in the Arts and Crafts movement because of its incorporation of nature into daily life.

In America, Arts and Crafts gardens were marked by their regional diversity and use of native species and locally historic styles, which created a national Arts and Crafts style much less cohesive than its British counterpart. Seamless transitions between the design of homes and gardens in America grew from the practice of well-known Arts and Crafts architects like Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) who popularly fused architectural and garden principles in houses like his Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania.  

Green Gables was one of the few house-and-garden estates designed by Greene & Greene. 
It was built c.1911 as the summer home for Mortimer and Bella Fleishhacker and remains in the family today.
(D. Regnery, An Enduring Heritage: Historic Buildings of the San Francisco Peninsula, Stanford, 1976, p.104, 106.)
On the West Coast, the Arts and Crafts movement took the form of the California Mission Revival style and the bungalow style of architecture that brothers Charles (1868-1957) and Henry Greene (1870-1954), also known as Greene & Greene, popularized through their designs. Charles Greene’s commission in the early twentieth century for Mortimer and Bella Fleishhacker to create a seventy-five acre garden called Green Gables in Woodside, California, is one of the largest gardens created by an Arts and Crafts designer. While Green Gables features strong European influences, including an Italianate arcade and design, Greene’s composition remains true to the Arts and Crafts sensibilities of native plantings, regional style, and natural, organic designs. In addition to designing the gardens, exterior walkways and pools over the course of twenty years, Greene also personally designed tables, chairs, and doors for the house.
The gardens of Green Gables include a 300 foot-long Roman pool that captures a view of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The stairway and arcade were constructed by hand out of regional stone to enhance the natural aesthetic of the garden. Louise H. Hooker, photographer.
For more information about Arts and Crafts gardens, see Wendy Hitchmough, Arts and Crafts Gardens (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1998)

Find out more information about the Garden Club of America Collection at the Archives of American Gardens.

Lucy Shirley, 2011 Katzenberger Art History Intern
Archives of American Gardens
Smithsonian Gardens

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