(c) Mark Hertzberg
Shooting at Penwern today – Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fred B. Jones house and estate on Delavan Lake (Wisconsin). Usually one wants shadows to help define lines but today it worked out well to have even lighting. There are so many wonderful layers to the house, so many things going on in Wright’s head as he works to define his design vocabulary.
The estate (house, gate lodge, boathouse, and stable) were designed 1900-1903. His designs in 1900 began to be in what is commonly known as his Prairie-style homes. While he designed some Prairie-style before Penwern, this design cannot be classified that way. His five Delavan Lake cottages were originally all stained brown. Sue and John Major, the stewards of Penwern since 1994, announced a wonderful website this fall: www.penwern.com There are many more photos and more information about Penwern there.
Photos and text (c) Mark Hertzberg
The James Irving House, designed by noted Prairie-style architect John S. Van Bergen in 1928, is moved in three sections from 1318 Isabella Street in Wilmette, Illinois Friday October 10, 2014. The first section moved includes the living room and dining of the house. The house was bought by Christopher Enck to stave it from demolition after Landmarks Illinois brought attention to the plight of the house. Lisa Di Chiera, Director of Advocacy for Landmarks Illinois, left, and Enck photograph the move:
Van Bergen worked for Frank Lloyd Wright in 1909, before Wright left his Oak Park studio to work in Europe for two years. The historic house is being temporarily stored in the parking lot of a future Whole Foods store nearby, until its permanent site in Evanston is ready. A cottage attributed to Wright and Rudolph Schindler, said to be a temporary residence for Mr. Irving, once stood at the rear of the property. It is in storage off-site.
The move drew several dozen spectators:
Photo and text (c) Mark Hertzberg
SC Johnson filed a request Tuesday for discontinuation of its lawsuit against the Sotheby’s auction house and a California man filed in Federal Court in New York in December. The lawsuit was filed after a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed desk and desk chair from Wright’s SC Johnson Administration Building were listed for sale by Sotheby’s. The items are back in Racine.
The company released this statement late Tuesday in reaction to the court filing, “We’re pleased with the settlement outcome. Frank Lloyd Wright designed furniture is an important part of our company’s legacy. The furniture was designed in 1938-39 as part of Wright’s vision for the Administration building. We are happy that chair and desk have been returned to SCJ and our legacy has remained intact.“
Photos (c) Mark Hertzberg
For many years visitors to the SC Johnson Administration Building have asked how they can tour the Research Tower (added to the tour program this past May) and Wingspread (where tours had to be arranged separately, and dependent on the conference schedule).
Today SC Johnson announces that it is adding Wingspread to its tour program.
Wingspread was designed for company president H.F. Johnson Jr. in 1937, a year after the Administration Building. His grandson, company Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson, describes the Wright buildings as “great architectural masterpieces…we feel a great responsibility to share his incredible work with the world.” He continues, “For me, these structures are so much more than just buildings; they are a constant reminder of some of the bold choices my grandfather made.”
Wingspread became home to the Johnson Foundation around 1959. National Public Radio, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the International Court of Justice all grew out of what were often known as “Wingspread conferences.”
Some of my favorite photos show the afternoon sun coming through the clerestory windows in the Great Room.
Reservations can be made at www.scjohnson.com/visit or by calling 262-260-2154.
(If this link does not connect correctly, due to a software problem, please copy and paste it into your browser)
“Penwern,” Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fred B. Jones House (1900) is framed through the entrance to the boathouse on Delavan Lake. (c) Mark Hertzberg
Sue and John Major, stewards of Penwern, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fred B. Jones summer cottage, boathouse, gate lodge, and stable (1900-1903), are pleased to announce the launch of a website for the estate. The url is www.penwern.com
The Majors have commissioned me to write a book for them about Jones and Penwern. It is an exciting challenge because we have been unable to find any extant letters between Messrs. Jones, Wright, and/or Henry Wallis, who was the developer who apparently led Jones and three other Chicago-based Delavan Lake clients to Mr. Wright.
I was also asked by At the Lake magazine to write about Mr. Wright’s work on Delavan Lake. The article was published this week. There is a link to it on the website. The article is footnoted, because I want to verify every assertion about Penwern, rather than just accept what has been written about it before. I have found a number of misconceptions about Penwern, including the the idea that Penwern means “great house” in Gaelic. It is Welsh or Cornish, and does not mean “great house” (you’ll have to read the article and footnotes to learn more!).
As I invite you to go to the new website, which has a rich gallery of historic and contemporary photos of the estate, I leave you with a photo of Mr. Jones and Dora Mortimer, a friend or his housekeeper (another mystery we are trying to unravel!) on their around the world trip in 1924.
(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.
Mr. Wright was born on June 8. I graduated from high school June 8, 1968 (6.8.68). Sometimes I chuckle about the coincidence.
Text and photos (c) Mark Hertzberg
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.
Paul Corcoran, mayor of Richland Center, thanks the Schnadts for their generosity. Henk Newenhouse attended, dressed as Mr. Wright.
Lon Arbegust surprised the Schnadts with a framed copy of their wedding photo, which he found in the local newspaper archives.
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
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.
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:
He first made a model based on the design built for the house, before it was decided to use the unrealized design:
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:
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:
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:
And I leave you with one photo from the companion tour of the Administration Building:
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).
A portrait of Mr. Wright and H.F. Johnson Jr. at the Tower is on the elevator door on 3 Mezz:
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).
You can see photos of some of the 1950s artifacts on display two articles below this one. To make tour reservations:
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.