The Lucy E. Wheeler, Greene and Greene Residence

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Category: Architecture
Published on Friday, 06 August 2010 11:03
Written by Laura Meyers

The Lucy E. Wheeler Residence, a 1905 Craftsman Bungalow home in Harvard Heights, is a significant and rare local architectural treasure designed by Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene, masters among master architects.

The original owner, Lucy Emery Wheeler, was a pioneer in her profession as a court reporter, a leader in literary circles and an influential member of Los Angeles society. Her West Adams home was eventually converted into a three-unit residential building (after Ms. Wheeler moved out, in the 1930s) but it survived with nearly all of its original Greene and Greene features intact.

In the mid-1980s, noted restoration architect Martin Eli Weil acquired the property and began a 25-year journey of returning the structure to its original single family residence configuration. Weil passed away in 2009.

The designs of Greene and Greene houses, including the Lucy E. Wheeler Residence, express the Craftsman ethic and aesthetics: the nobility of natural materials, simple volumes, expansive use of wood, and intimacy with the landscape.  Their work is often referred to as “designs for living.” Influenced by Asian/Pacific Rim designs, the Greenes used cloud-lift joints, irimoya tile roofs, and jutting rafters. On their interiors, Charles and Henry Greene created their hallmark style in their handling of the cabinetry, wood trim, stain glass windows, and self-designed lighting fixtures. In contrast to Gustav Stickley’s straight lines and plainspoken detail, the Greenes’ designs were sinuous, and featured elaborately pegged joints and intricate hand-done inlays, the mark of master craftsmen.

Of the approximately 200 residences and other structures designed by the Greenes scattered throughout the West Coast, fewer than half remain standing in their original location. The Greene brothers only designed a handful of homes within the city limits of Los Angeles proper and the Wheeler residence has the distinction of being the ONLY Greene and Greene-designed residence still extant in the City of Los Angeles. It is pending designation as a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument.

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