When Long Beach was just a downtown and outlying areas north of Anaheim Street and east of Alamitos were just that – outlying – a Greene & Greene house was built at Cedar and Third in 1904 by famed Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene, who were noted for elevating the Craftsman style into a highly refined aesthetic.
In a sense, their earliest homes and their fate paralleled the development of the City Of Long Beach. Henry Mather Greene supervised the construction for progressive movement patron, Jennie Reeve.
Her friend and associate, early Long Beach educator, Adelaide Tichenor, after whom an existing Long Beach public school is named and founder of the Ebell Club, also owned a Greene & Greene, which was built at about the same time at 852 E. Ocean Blvd at First Place and which was involved in a serious fire on December 12, 2011.
A third Greene & Greene is now at Loma Vista near Anaheim and Magnolia. All were among the first houses that became known as Greene & Greene.
In 1917 Dr. V. Ray Townsend found the house on blocks ready to be carted away from its original site had it moved to 1004 Pine Ave. In 1927, Dr. V. Ray Townsend had it moved to the new Virginia Country Club at 4260 Country Club Drive, where Greene designed an extension to the home.
In 2003, the Reeve home was sold to Ted Wells, the president of a Greene & Green trust, as at the time, a developer wanted to tear down the house and build two houses there.
The Reeve-owned Greene & Greene had furniture, lighting, leaded glass, curtains, gates, fences and gardens made by Greene & Greene as well as built-ins, which still function. Of the original 139 decorative items, only a front porch light, a dining room display cabinet, a bedroom door mirror and a pair of andirons in the Inglenook fireplace remained. Some items were replaced from auction houses. What happened to the 135 items remains a mystery. Currently, new furniture of the period is being crafted for the home. The windows of 100-year-old glass are still in place. Because the house had no insulation, 30 tubes have been inserted into the ground under the house as a cooling system. The restoration is being done by ImageHeritage Construction, whose John Jensen, himself an artist, supplied information about many of the details.
As part of getting ready for the rehab, Jensen studied up on Greene & Greene and a large workforce is at hand daily in the restoration. Pieces from this house have been displayed at the Long Beach Museum of Art in October 2005 and at the Huntington Library.
Once the home is complete, Wells plans to offer occasional home tours, but rumors of a museum or regular openings are apparently not true.