Greene & Greene return to Berkeley

June 14, 1996 § 1 Comment

Detail from the Thorsen House dining room.

“Last of the Ultimate Bungalows: The William R. Thorsen House” — an eight-week exhibition this summer — will reunite the architecture and furnishings of the Thorsen House in Berkeley.

The Thorsen House, at 2307 Piedmont Avenue, and its furnishings were designed and built between 1907 and 1909 by Charles and Henry Greene, the great Pasadena architects. The Greenes used the finest domestic and exotic woods, art glass, custom metalwork and ceramic art tiles of the period. The house is now owned and occupied by the California Chapter of Sigma Phi Fraternity.

The furnishings, which the Thorsens removed from the house when they moved away from Berkeley, are owned by the Gamble House in Pasadena. The exhibit features the reinstallation, for the first time in more than 50 years, of the complete original furnishings.

The Thorsen House was the last of the “ultimate bungalows,” a rarified handful of elaborate wooden residences with furnishings designed and crafted by the Greenes from 1907 to 1909.

“The Thorsen House remains the most significant example of the Greenes’ bungalow architecture in the northern part of California,” said Greene and Greene scholar Randell Makinson, “and is one of the finest examples of the Arts and Crafts movement in the Bay Area.”

A symposium of lectures by noted scholars in the field will accompany the opening of the exhibition, and original Greene and Greene drawings for the Thorsen House and other commissions will be exhibited at the University Art Museum in Berkeley.

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