Plans by E. E. Green

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E. E. Green

Elmer Ellsworth Green or Edward Earl Green?

Who contributed to The Books of a Thousand Homes?

E. E. Green contributed 57 plans to The Book of a Thousand Homes published in 1923 by the Home Owners Service Institute. Edited by Henry Atterbury Smith, the book contains 500 small house plans of various styles, but all popular during the 1920s.

In the Acknowledgement, the president, S. Porter Moore writes: "Organizations which have co-operated in supplying plans include: American Face Brick Association, Portland Cement Association, Common Brick Industries of America, The Curtis Companies, Hollow Building Tile Manaufacturers Association, National Lumber Manufacturers Association and Associated Metal Lath Manufacturers." Additional material was gathered through competitions and submissions by individual architects. There is no direct link between the individual designs, their contributors, or their associations with the companies named, which makes identifying E. E. Green somewhat problematic.

Two E. E. Greens were practicing architects during the early 20th century. Both are relatively obscure and little seems to be known about them. On one hand, some have speculated that the contributor to The Book of a Thousand Homes was the same E. E. Green who practiced in the Pacific Northwest acknowledged on cultural inventory lists of several British Columbian, Washington, and Oregon historical organizations. On the other hand, it might have been the other E. E. Green, who worked for Curtis Brothers & Company in Clinton, Iowa.

I believe that it was actually Edward Earl Green who contributed the plans to the The Books of a Thousand Homes Vol. 1. Most of the designs were smallish houses and more consistent with plan book homes of the late Teens and early Twenties than the higher style designs of Elmer Ellsworth Green. There were a few foursquares thrown in for good measure.

Of course, there may be ANOTHER E. E. Green yet to be discovered. Additional research and documentation may surface that supports or refutes this conjecture.

The following sums up what little I have been able to gather and at least respectably frames my contention so I can hold my head up in the company of other historians.

Elmer Ellsworth Green

Elmer Ellsworth Green practiced architecture actively from about 1887 to 1925 or so. He was born in Minnesota in 1861, married twice, and lived with his second wife and multitudinous brood in Victoria while plying his design skills at the turn of the century. His brother, Royal, was a builder who seems to have spent some time in California ... a path that Elmer apparently followed too judging from where his children were born. Elmer was a dedicated craftsman with a refined Arts & Crafts aesthetic; the buildings noted and nominated to the historical and cultural inventories in Seattle and British Columbia certainly reflect that skill. He was self taught, but disciplined in his design approach. In 1909, Elmer won first prize in a bungalow design competition conducted by Lewis Publishing in St. Louis. In 1912, he had offices in Vancouver, BC and Seattle. He published his book of 68 designs in The Practical Plan Book the same year. It the forward he wrote:

"The designing of an artistic and practical Bungalow or residence of any kind requires much skill and education, together with practical knowledge of building construction. When I started to fit myself for the Architectural profession I firmly believed that a man had no moral right to call himself an Architect until he was thoroughly familiar with all kinds of building construction…Before taking up the study of drawing I spent several years with the best and the most experienced builders I could find, and learned thoroughly the mechanical end of building construction. After becoming an expert in that line I took up the study of drawing and design, and now with twenty-five years experience of high-class work, I believe that I am in a position to give the very best service that money can buy."

These are clearly the words of a professional at the height of his game whose timing intersected with the full flowering of the bungalow movement between 1905 and 1920. He was a principal in the Victoria-based Bungalow Construction Company (BCC), which advertised in the Seattle Bungalow magazine.

A few buildings designed by Elmer Green include

There seems to be ample documentation to support Elmer's style with respect to the Seattle and BC houses. He appears to have closed his offices just before 1920 however and may have moved to California. His wife, Julia remained in Seattle with the children, where she is settled for the 1920 census. Though she gives her marital status as married, they may have been separated. Any work accomplished by Elmer after the Oregon project remains a mystery to me. According to one homeowner/researcher, Elmer died in Eureka in 1928 and was buried in Santa Clara.

Edward Earl Green

Like Elmer, Edward Earl Green remains elusive as to background and education, though he seems to have been considerably more stable than Elmer. He was born Nov. 24, 1889 in Denver, CO and died Feb. 15, 1969 in Los Angeles County, CA. He grew up in Denver as the son of a miner. In 1915, the Iowa State census places him in Clinton, IA as an architectural draftsman. The census notes 8 years of grammar school, 2 years of high school, and 1 year of college.

Green married Gertrude A. Cling but the year and location isn't known. His son, Bruce Ivan Green (born in July 6, 1914 in Fort Dodge, Iowa) was interviewed by researchers documenting the Castle Terrace neighborhood in the late 1990s. A daughter, Betty, was born in about 1922 in Clinton, but nothing is known of her whereabouts.

In June 1917, Edward was in Clinton, Iowa working for the Curtis Brothers & Co., as architectural draftsman, but by 1920, he described himself as an architect.

Curtis published a variety of plan books including a series called Better Built Homes during the early 1920s. Most of the Curtis designs were typical of the middle range of pretty, small houses that would have been suitable for the working and middle-class home buyer. This is the specific reason I lean toward Edward's contribution to the 1000 Homes book contribution and not Elmer — this style of small house design is more consistent with the plans shown in the book plus the known contribution of plans by Edward's long time employers, the Curtis Companies.

One project on which he had the architectural lead was the 1926 development of Clinton's Castle Terrace District, which has since been listed as a National Historic District. The development was intended as a showcase for the Curtis Company's line of wood and millwork products. It's unclear to me at this point whether Green was an investor in the project, the lead architect, or both. In any case, according to one source, 1355 Caroline Avenue was apparently designed by Green for his family, who were in residence in 1929.


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