The 1903 Darling-Wright house by Greene and Greene in Cleremont has been renovated to be sustainable.
Alexander Vertikoff

An early Charles and Henry Greene home in Claremont, California—one of the first the brothers worked on outside of Pasadena—has gotten a second life courtesy of local architects HartmanBaldwin. New owners Andrew and Blenda Wright tapped the firm to update the 1903 Darling-Wright house with sustainable features while maintaining its Arts and Crafts heritage.

The house is the first historic home in California to earn a GreenPoint rating, a LEED-counterpart that measures a home’s sustainability based on resource conservation, indoor air quality, water conservation, energy efficiency, and contribution to the community.

Renovations by HartmanBaldwin are reversible, so the house can be changed back to its former state in the future.
[Click to enlarge.]

The home represented a turning point in the Greenes’ career: with it the brothers began taking a holistic approach right down to furniture designs and lighting sketches. When the Wrights purchased the home in 2007, it was “in fairly rough shape,” said Alan Brookman, project architect, and a former docent at the famed Greene & Greene Gamble house in Pasadena. Earlier ill-advised remodels had compromised the structure. The hand-crafted windows and siding had been replaced more than once, and the floor was past its last sanding.

In its quest for sustainability the firm first reconsidered the insulation. “You get more bang for your buck fixing up these little things before moving to solar panels or windows,” said Brookman. Because of the home’s board and batten interior and shingle exterior, air had basically moved freely through the house’s skin. HartmanBaldwin insulated the building with closed cell foam and blown in cellulose, allowing the firm to downsize the heating, ventilation, and cooling systems.

Fixtures and paneling have been reused and replaced with historically sensitive options.

The firm then replaced the badly oxidized 1990s shingles with those that echoed the size and shape of the original. Original window frames were re-used where possible, and because the house stands on a relatively busy street, dual-glazed windows replaced the original plate-glass windows, helping with noise reduction and energy efficiency. Craftspeople reproduced the front door and replaced damaged flooring.

The firm either re-used fixtures or replaced them with historically sensitive ones. LED lights were installed inside Greene and Greene-style fixtures in the kitchen and dining room. In the breakfast nook, John Hamm of Hamm Glass Studios replicated a fixture Charles Greene sketched for the entry hall published in a 1903 Academy Architecture article. Additional vintage-style bathrooms were put in—complete with low-flow 1921 reproduction toilets with low wall-hung tanks, faucets, and showerheads.

The Darling-Wright house is the first historic home in California to receive a GreenPoint rating for sustainability.

In making upgrades, HartmanBaldwin sought to make reversible as many modifications as possible, “so that if somebody wants to come back and return the house to the pre-renovation condition, they can,” said Brookman.

Since the Wrights required a larger garage, the firm found another interested buyer for the original 1921 garage and had it moved. Construction waste, including cardboard, plastic and aluminum, were also recycled.

Ensuring as much of the home was salvaged or re-used was a meticulous process, but everything was worth it in the end, relates Brookman. “As we were finishing the house, I could really see that it was turning out to be something special.” The Darling-Wright house looks ready to survive yet another century.