Of all the furniture styles, Arts & Crafts is my favorite. And of all the Arts & Crafts furniture styles, the Greene & Greene furniture is simply heaven sent (at least to me).
I have a decent library of books about the Arts & Crafts period, but I will tell you the truth, I have never physically seen or touched an authentic piece of Greene & Greene furniture or any other Arts & Crafts furniture for that matter. If I had the money to fly out to Pasadena, California, to visit the famous Greene & Greene houses, my head just might pop from sensory overload.
Let’s face facts, to state it in a politically correct manner, I am “asset challenged.” I have no debt mind you; the Bar Am Household uses the opposite economic model of which our Government uses, by only purchasing items when we have the cash to do so. However; the mortgage, tuition, and food uses up a very large part of our income. Ergo…the chances of me flying to California for a look see, or possibly ever owning an Arts & Crafts piece of furniture is slim to nil. Besides, I am basically a hermit too. When you work six days a week you don’t get out much.
Now back on topic. I’ve read a number of books about Charles and Henry Greene, but I still do not know very much about Peter and John Hall, the men who actually created and made the Greene’s designs. I’m going to back track just a minute here. Right now I am reading, “Greene & Greene – Poems of Wood & Light” by David Mathias, can not recommend this book enough. (Reading this book is like eating rich chocolate. I savor it. It is one of those books that I don’t want it to end.)
So once again, who were Peter and John Hall? Everything I have found so far basically says the same thing:
John and Peter Hall had been born in Stockholm, Sweden, but had immigrated to Illinois by 1872. Peter moved to Pasadena in 1886 and gained a reputation as a master stair builder. He worked in Seattle, Washington, and Port Townsend, Oregon, from 1889 through 1891, then returned to Pasadena and worked for the millwork firm known as Pasadena Manufacturing Company. John also worked for this firm in the 1890s. Although Peter left the company in 1900 and set up his own contracting firm in 1902, John remained in the employ of the company. With a reputation for fine workmanship, John became a foreman in 1899 and remained so into 1906.
Edward S. Cooke, Jr.
Scandinavian Modern Furniture in the Arts and Crafts Period: The Collaboration of the Greene’s and the Halls
If I could go back in time, I certainly would love to meet Charles and Henry Greene, but what I wouldn’t do to meet Peter and John Hall, and to work along beside them in their workshop! What were these guys like? What did their shop look like? What made them such master craftsmen?
If you have a source of information about these gentlemen, please let me know. In the meantime, I’ll just keep digging away for more information. Off to the virtual library…..