Mr. Wright’s Birthday Dinner at Hillside Dining Room

(c) Mark Hertzberg

Several hundred people celebrated Frank Lloyd Wright’s 147th birthday at an annual dinner given in the Hillside dining room following a reception at Taliesin, Saturday June 7. It is a joy and a privilege to be invited to this festive celebration. It is a time to see friends and professional acquaintances, and to meet new people.

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Mr. Wright was born on June 8. I graduated from high school June 8, 1968 (6.8.68). Sometimes I chuckle about the coincidence.

A.D. German Warehouse – Open House

Text and photos (c) Mark Hertzberg

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s A.D. German Warehouse (1915) is safe, thanks to the generosity of Glenn and Mary Schnadt of Richland Center, Wisconsin. The building, which has been closed for several decades, was purchased by the Schnadts late last summer. They, in turn, have donated the building to the newly-formed A.D. German Warehouse Conservancy, Inc. which is now raising money to restore it and considering proposals for how to best use the building.

The Schnadts were honored at a community open house on the first floor of the Warehouse Saturday June 7, in honor of Wright’s birthday (June 8). Several hundred people attended the open house.

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Paul Corcoran, mayor of Richland Center, thanks the Schnadts for their generosity. Henk Newenhouse attended, dressed as Mr. Wright.

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Lon Arbegust surprised the Schnadts with a framed copy of their wedding photo, which he found in the local newspaper archives.

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Ron Scherubel, past executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and a board member of Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin, was one of the speakers.

The warehouse conservancy has a Facebook page. Contributions are welcomed: PO Box 436 Richland Center, WI 53581

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New Gates for Hardy House

Words and photos (c) Mark Hertzberg, except historic photos, (c) Anne Sporer Ruetz

One of the most important finishing touches is coming to the Hardy House. It was built in 1904-06 with two wood gates, which we see in Anne Sporer Ruetz’s snapshots of her friends. Anne grew up in the house; her parents were the second owners (1938-1947) after Hardy lost the house at sheriff’s auction.

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New gates, based on the unrealized design by Wright on one of his drawings, are being built by Chad Nichols, the master carpenter who has done much of the work at the house. Chad measured the openings for the gates in January, 2013:

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He first made a model based on the design built for the house, before it was decided to use the unrealized design:

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There is nary a spare clamp to be found in his workshop as he now completes the red cedar gates. It was decided to wait until the house rehabilitation was almost completed before making the gates:

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The gates will be stained before they are installed, probably next week. Chad proudly invited me to his workshop today to see what they look like:

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Photos / First Tower Tour

Photos (c) Mark Hertzberg for SC Johnson

The first public guests to ever tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson Research Tower had about 45 minutes to explore the 1950s artifacts and displays about the architectural history of the building on two floors of the building, 3 Main and 3 Mezz, Friday morning. Interest in these first-ever tours has been so great that beginning in late May tours will be run five days a week through September, rather than only two days a week. These photos are from the first tour:

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And I leave you with one photo from the companion tour of the Administration Building:

First Tower Tour

Countdown to Tower opening

Photos (c) Mark Hertzberg for SC Johnson

In just twelve hours the first public tours ever of the SC Johnson Research Tower begin. There is such demand for the tours that Wednesday and Thursday have just been added to the reservation schedule. We whet your appetite for your visit with some photos shot this afternoon, including some from a unique vantage point. The Research Tower is Wright’s only executed tap-root tower (Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer told me that Price Tower is not a true tap-root tower because it is tied into the foundation of the adjoining office building).

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A portrait of Mr. Wright and H.F. Johnson Jr. at the Tower is on the elevator door on 3 Mezz:

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The Tower’s original lighting scheme was replicated as part of the restoration of the building (see older posts for photos of the Tower re-lighting at dusk on December 21, the Winter Solstice).

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You can see photos of some of the 1950s artifacts on display two articles below this one. To make tour reservations:

www.scjohnson.com/visit

Some people have asked me technical questions: today’s photos were shot with a 14mm f2.8 lens on a full frame digital camera body (a Nikon D600). I do not particularly favor one brand camera…I choose Nikons because of my investment in Nikkor lenses over many years.

“Two Taliesins” (really three) at SCJ

(c) Text by Mark Hertzberg / Photos by Mark Hertzberg for SC Johnson

The third iteration of “At Home with Frank Lloyd Wright” opens Friday in Fortaleza Hall on the SC Johnson campus in Racine. The exhibition is entitled “The Two Taliesins,” but in addition to Taliesin and Taliesin West, it also includes what has sometimes been referred to as Taliesin East, Wright’s suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Workers were completing the installation when I photographed it last week.

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A publicity statement from SC Johnson describes the exhibition: 

‘Wright used both homes as laboratories where he could develop and test his architectural ideas. The exhibit will compare and contrast how Wright incorporated his signature and revolutionary “organic” design concepts into his own homes, each of which reflected the very different landscapes and climates in which they were built.   

‘Artifacts from Wright’s Wisconsin and Arizona homes will be on display that simulate their natural settings and convey their significance to the Taliesin concept. The exhibit will also feature a collection of rare photos and videos that show Wright at home. In addition, visitors will learn about the central role that color played in Wright’s designs of the Taliesins.”

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The gallery opened in 2012 with an exhibition devoted to Wright’s Prairie-style homes. His Usonian homes were the theme of the 2013 exhibition in the gallery.

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The Wright-designed SC Johnson Research Towers opens for the first public tours ever on Friday, as well. I have had the privilege of photographing several times during the 2013 restoration of the tower and the installation of the exhibits in the Tower over the last few weeks (see previous posts). For information about making reservations for tours, go to: http://www.scjohnson.com/en/company/visiting.aspx

Inside the SC Johnson Research Tower

(c) Mark Hertzberg

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The response to the opening of the SC Johnson Research Tower for the first public tours ever has been so strong that Sunday tours will now be available, as well.  http://www.scjohnson.com/en/company/visiting.aspx

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Two floors of the landmark (the “I”word is overused) building have been restored and furnished as they looked in November, 1950 when the building opened. Tours begin May 2. Here is a preview:

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Florida Southern College

Text and photos (c) Mark Hertzberg

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The sun rises over Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, left, and Danforth Chapel at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida March 13. The college is the largest single-site collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. College president Dr. Ludd Spivey commissioned Wright to design the college campus master plan and the buildings in 1938. Twelve structures designed by Wright were built over a twenty year time span from 1938 to 1958. The Waterdome and the Esplanades are considered two of the 12 completed structures).

A thirteenth building, a Usonian home designed for faculty housing, was completed in 2013. It serves as a guest relations center for tour guests.

Florida Southern College

We had the privilege of a behind-the-scenes tour of the Wright-designed buildings on campus with Mark Tlachac.

The Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, with its carillon tower, below, is the best known of the Wright buildings.

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The smaller, more intimate William H. Danforth Chapel is adjacent to the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel. Its “prow” is somewhat similar to Wright’s Unitarian Meeting House near Madison.

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The Esplanades, which Wright designed to shield people from the sun and rain, were my favorite subject. Wright designed them as evocative of citrus trees. The first photo is the projected shadow of one of the columns at sunrise.


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The ceiling of the reception area of the Fine Administration Building reminded me of ceilings in Price Tower.Florida Southern College

I also liked the original Roux Library. The building has been remodeled, but Wright’s lower level reading room is still similar

 as when built.

Florida Southern College

Florida Southern College

Florida Southern College

Jeff Baker, an architect from Albany, New York, is working with the college on the restoration of many aspects of the buildings.

Florida Southern College

Florida Southern College

It’s not Wright, but it is still worth looking at!

(c) Mark Hertzberg

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This is a Frank Lloyd Wright blog, but, heck, it’s mine, so I can post other things, too! I was struck by the sun at 10 a.m. when I looked in the sanctuary of the historic First Presbyterian Church in Racine today. The wide shot with the piano is what I first saw. That drew me to the tighter shots. I had biked to the church. I have been commissioned to write a book for their 175th anniversary and was there for an editing meeting, so I didn’t have “real” cameras and lenses. These were all shot with my “bike camera,” a pocket Canon SD 780 IS point and shoot. I picked that model a few years ago because it has a viewfinder.  Thanks to Michael Zacks of Zacks Camera Repair in Providence, RI for fixing the zoom a month ago!

I have not abandoned Wright…there are some goodies coming to this blog in the next few weeks!

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Hardy House Rehabilitation

Photos and text (c) Mark Hertzberg

Eugene Szymczak became the seventh steward of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Thomas P. Hardy House in Racine, Wisconsin on September 16, 2012. He undertook a rehabilitation which has literally saved the house. I have posted many photos of the process on this website. Here is your first complete look at the house after the work finished. The photos were shot February 14. Landscaping is not been done yet; that will likely hide the gas meter which is in front of the house. Many people have been startled by Gene’s choice of color: terra cotta. Their anxiety diminishes when they learn that the exterior and interior were restored in what are thought to be the original colors. If you still doubt the choice of exterior color, look at Wright’s Gardener’s Cottage at the Darwin D. Martin House, from the same period.

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Surprisingly, the biggest challenge to the stability of the structure was the Main Street side rather than the lake side of the house. Daylight was visible in the “heater room” or sub-basement hallway which is below grade, between the two doorways. A concrete slab next to the south (right) door had partially caved in and there was extensive rotting of the wood foundation beams. The house was jacked up, 1/8″ of an inch at a time and four permanent floor-to-ceiling posts were installed. Two of the posts are shown at right, below.

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The center of this wonderful house is, of course, the living room. However, as Jonathan Lipman remarked to me, unlike many of Wright’s Prairie-style homes, the fireplace (which is not ornate) is secondary in importance in this living room. One has his or her back to the fireplace when looking out the two-story living room windows at Lake Michigan, below the house. The living room balcony was deflected when Gene moved in. Workers found electric wiring and gas lines for two light fixtures on the face of the balcony when the plaster was removed so it could be repaired. Anne Sporer Ruetz, who grew up in the house after Hardy lost it at sheriff’s auction in 1938, does not remember any lights there. It is possible none were ever installed. Gene had two fixtures made, following the design of lights at the (now-demolished) Little House in Minnesota. Similar wall sconces were made for the dining room.

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The dominant vertical space in the middle of the photo below is the back wall of the bedroom closets

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This is the view from the living room balcony:

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This is a look at the ceiling as one climbs the stairs from the living room to the balcony:

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There is a bedroom at each end of the house on the living room and living room balcony levels. The two at the south end of the house have built-ins including these pull-out chairs:

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The dining room is one level below the living room. There are built-ins on either side of the fireplace and on either side of the dining room terrace windows and door:

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The second owners of the house, the Sporers (1938-1947) had the dining room terrace rebuilt with a recreation room underneath. The room is not finished. The terrace originally ended in a stucco wall. Five floor-to-ceiling windows, with a door in the middle one, became the new terrace wall on the lake bluff, after the remodeling:

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The house was constructed with pocket doors. The Archers, the third owners of the house (1947-1957) replaced them with conventional hinged doors because the pocket doors were difficult to use in icy and snowy conditions. Szymczak put in new pocket doors. He chose doors with glass so one can see into the courtyards from the entry hall, and also to let more light into the hallway:

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Various design details:

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We end your tour with one of the new light sconces Gene had made to guide guests to the doorway, as they come in from Main Street:

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