Writing Wright with Light, Part Two

Photos © Mark Hertzberg

This is the last day of the Road Scholar Frank Lloyd Wright trip which I am accompanying. Today I found myself looking at shapes in the six Wright sites we visited. I relied on memory to try to not repeat photos I have taken in the past. I was challenged to turn this post into a “Where Was I When I Took This Photo?” game rather than caption photos as I normally would. The photos are presented in the order in which we visited the sites. The answers are at the bottom.

Site A:

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Site B:

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Site C:

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Site D:

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Site E:

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Site F:

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Answers:

A: Jacobs 1 House – The odd shaped bricks are attributed to Wright reportedly having his apprentices use bricks taken from the SC Johnson Administration Building. There are 200 shapes of bricks in the Administration Building. B: Unitarian Meeting House C: Wyoming Valley School D: Hillside School E: Hillside Drafting Room F: Taliesin

Thank you to Taliesin Preservation for greeting us at the Visitors Center with this sign:

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Scroll down to see yesterday’s “Writing Wright with Light” post, and previous blog articles.

Writing Wright With Light-Photo Adventures at two Wright sites in Milwaukee

© Mark Hertzberg

Something wasn’t right today. I was not committed to taking pictures as I accompanied my 11th Road Scholar Frank Lloyd Wright trip, my second in a month, to sites in Milwaukee today.* As I have written in past blogs, I try to see and photograph something new every time I visit a familiar Wright site, but I did not feel photographically inspired this trip. When I got to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block, our first stop, I thought I had seen all the pictures there were to take, on the trip in May:

https://wrightinracine.wordpress.com/2022/05/19/wright-tourism-is-back-bits-of-burnham/

So, I left my workhorse cameras on the bus and carried just my iPhone 11 Pro. Then I saw something that struck me. I gingerly took out my phone and snapped a picture:

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I put the phone back in my pocket, thinking it would be a “one and done” day. I took two photos of Road Scholars eager to enter the American System-Built B-1 Richards House, and again figured, that would be it for the day:

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Ah, but there was more to come, above me, and inside the house:

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Done for the day? Maybe, but I decided to bring the “real” cameras with me when we got to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa. I was immediately struck by the cloudless and rich blue sky. It seemed in synch with the blue color scheme of much of the church building. First, was the obligatory “record” snapshot before pushing my eye:

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The “crown of thorns” below the domed roof presented myriad photos:

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Then I came to the entry way and its cantilevered canopy:

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There are thousands of two inch by two inch ceramic tiles above the roof of the canopy. Our docent, my friend Cathy Spyres, explained that these are the same tiles that were on the original roof of the church. The original tiles were not replaced after they started popping off the roof.

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Then, onto a quest to see something new inside the church:

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Spyres told the guests that blue (as well as gold) is one of the dominant colors inside and outside the church because it is part of the Byzantine heritage. So was the sky, I thought, as I heard her explanation.

I was in touch a few months ago with the director of a Wright site to take photos for a forthcoming Wright book by a university professor. The director was critical of one of my earlier photos from the site because it had an “on the spot look.” I asked for clarification: “On the spot means it looks like a hand-held shot. It isn’t carefully studied. It has a casual look.” I make no apologies for my style of working: “Casually,” and “hand-held.”

Photography literally means “writing with light.” Today the light was perfect for me to write Wright.

*The guests’ week-long itinerary begins in Chicago and Oak Park, continues to Racine, where I join them, then on to Milwaukee, Madison, and Spring Green. They see 12 Wright sites in Wisconsin during this deep immersion into the World of Wright:

https://www.roadscholar.org/find-an-adventure/22976/architectural-masterworks-of-frank-lloyd-wright

A chair and a desk: A legacy design

Photos ©Mark Hertzberg 2022

Steelcase and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation announced a new collaboration a week ago, in advance of Wright’s 155th birthday (June 8). The famous desk and desk chairs that Wright designed for the SC Johnson Administration Building (1936) in Racine, Wisconsin will get new life as Steelcase will “revisit, reinterpret, and reintroduce Wright’s designs, as well as co-create novel concepts rooted in his principles to provide products that enhance how we live and work today.”

The desks evoke the streamlined building itself:

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Steelcase showed its appreciation for Wright giving them this commission during the Great Depression, when they were known as the American Metal Furniture Company, by purchasing and fully restoring Wright’s Meyer May House (1908) near their company headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The restoration, under the direction of Carla Lind, took from 1985-1987. Steelcase also bought the house next door and made it into the visitors’ center for the Meyer May House:

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I thank Don Dekker of the Meyer May House for allowing Patrick Mahoney and me to photograph the house without other guests in it, during the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy conference in Grand Rapids in 2013.

The announcement about the collaboration between Steelcase and the Foundation:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/steelcase-and-frank-lloyd-wright-foundation-announce-new-creative-collaboration-301558528.html?utm_campaign=Wright%2BSociety&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Wright_Society_309

Meyer May House:

https://meyermayhouse.steelcase.com

Scroll down to see earlier blog posts or articles…

These Insects are Welcome

© Mark Hertzberg (2022)

If you thought that Taliesin wraps up your Frank Lloyd Wright and Spring Green experience, then you are missing a gem, just four miles on State Highway 23 from Taliesin.

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One of Wright’s last commissions, the Wyoming Valley School (1957) has vibrant new life under the leadership of David Zaleski, its new Executive Director. Rebranded as the Wyoming Valley Cultural Arts Center, there is just one more week to view “A is for Apple, B is for Bug, and C is for Cicada,” an art installation by Jennifer Angus.

Peter Rott, the principal at Isthmus Architects of Madison, shepherded an extensive restoration of the two-room schoolhouse. Significant work was done, most of it not visible. The obvious change is that the concrete blocks inside are no longer yellow, but, rather, a more natural color.

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Now, onto the fun…Angus’ art installation:

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In the Assembly Room, dollhouses covered in beeswax are elevated to simulate how an insect might view them:

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LR Wyoming Valley School 5.20.22 012.jpgRott found an old card catalogue cabinet.

The exhibit ends June 12, 2022, but it is a sign of the fun things that Zaleski will be doing in the school building. I am not a fan of people speculating what Wright might have thought, said, or done in a given situation, but I will take the liberty of thinking he would have been pleased with the school’s incarnation as a cultural center.

LR Wright Spirit Awards 2013 040.jpgRott has been honored in a number of Wright-related projects. He was honored with a Wright Spirit Award from the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy at its 2013 conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

http://www.wyomingvalleyschool.org

Rott and his Wright-related projects:

http://www.is-arch.com/projects/

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Go to www.wrightinracine.com and keep scrolling down to see previous posts on this website…

 

Hillside Geometry (& new Minerva Photo)

Photos © Mark Hertzberg

My cameras and I have been to Taliesin many times. My challenge at any Wright site is to photograph it with a fresh eye each visit. I was able to interpret the geometry of Wright’s “forest” in the drafting room at Hillside from a new perspective recently. I welcome your comments, unless they reopen the debate about the Foundation and the School. The treat at the end of this blog entry is my latest portrait of our dear friend Minerva, also taken Friday May 20.

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As we look at the drafting tables below, the unknowns, of course, are what renderings and plans were drawn at which table, and by whom. Among countless others, one of the architects (and students) who counted this as their office was Charles Montooth, Minerva’s late husband.

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Links:

https://www.taliesinpreservation.org

https://wrightinracine.wordpress.com/2021/09/29/the-marvelous-minerva-montooth/

Keep scrolling down to see earlier blog entries…

Wright Tourism is Back: Bits of Burnham

© Mark Hertzberg (2022)

LR Burnham 2022 010.jpgSybil Knop talks to Road Scholar guests touring the Burnham Block May 19

The pandemic is far from over, but Wright tourism is ramping up again. I have helped lead the Wisconsin portion of Road Scholar’s week-long tour that starts in Chicago and ends in Spring Green since 2017 (a link to the itinerary is below). This week is our first of three tours for this year since 2019.. We have 16 guests from 10 states on this tour. Our first stop was the Burnham Block in Milwaukee which has six American System-Built homes, most owned by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block, Inc.

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I always challenge myself to see if I can find fresh photographs at Wright sites, no matter how often I have visited them. Here is what I saw on the Burnham Block after two years away from my Wright photo quests. I have two establishing shots showing signs of spring:

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I concentrated more on patterns or design elements that I saw, mostly at the duplexes (dupli?) at 2032 – 2034 W. Burnham Street, left, and 2028 – 2030 next door.

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LR Burnham 2022 018.jpgThis is not a version of the Frank Lloyd Wright signature tile…it is one of the faded red squares that have been used as social distancing markers on Burnham Street.

LR Burnham 2022 017.jpgI thought Frank Lloyd Wright hated basements.” They were not his favorite spaces, but he did not eschew them entirely. This is one of the vents from the basement at 2032 – 2034.

I told our guests that one of the great benefits of touring 2032 – 2034 is that while they generally see fully restored or rehabilitated Wright structures, this was an opportunity to see one in raw shape, as money from a Save America’s Treasures grants is used to bring it to house museum status like the Model B-1 down the block at 2714 W. Burnham St.

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LR Burnham 2022 066.jpgThis period stove is in a closet until the restoration is done.

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We then toured the Model B-1, one of the two single-family homes on the block. It was the first Burnham property acquired by what became the Burnham Block organization, in 2004. It has been fully restored with a Save America’s Treasures grant. It is a tribute to Mike Lilek and the organizations that have been the stewards of Burnham received not one, but two SAT grants.

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There are still two duplexes that will need restoration, including the world’s only Frank Lloyd Wright building clad in aluminum siding:

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I close this blog entry with a nod to my friend Cathy Spyres, docent extraordinaire at Wright’s Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church – her church – in Wauwatosa. The church is our second Wright stop on our Milwaukee itinerary:

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Tomorrow’s itinerary is another full day: We are overnighting in Madison tonight, after also seeing the Milwaukee Art Museum (Saarinen / Calatrava) and Monona Terrace. Tomorrow we start at Jacobs 1 and then go to the Unitarian Meeting House, Wyoming Valley School and have lunch at Riverview Terrace before our in-depth tours of Taliesin and Hillside. I can attest from our own trips with Road Scholar that you see so much and learn so much (education is a major component of their programming) that you need a vacation after your RS vacation! Wright tourism is, indeed back in full swing!

Links:

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block:

http://wrightinmilwaukee.com

This Road Scholar Trip Itinerary (we also have a full tour of the Hardy House in Racine and an exterior guided tour of Jacobs 1, although they are not listed in the advance itinerary):

https://www.roadscholar.org/find-an-adventure/22976/architectural-masterworks-of-frank-lloyd-wright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to book a tour…

© Mark Hertzberg (2022)

You plan your Frank Lloyd Wright tour. You reserve tickets on-line. You tour. You shop for souvenirs in the gift shop. You post to social media. You go home. Then it’s on to planning the next Wright visit.

LR Touring Taliesin 001.jpgVisitors to Taliesin framed by the windows of the original drafting studio, 2018.

But a lot of strategizing and work behind the scenes went into your one or two-hour visit. It takes a lot of planning and, of course, money, to steward a public Wright site. Wright tourism has been redefined in the two years since the world and the World of Wright were enveloped by the pandemic. Virtual visits, something almost unheard of two years ago, are now common.

LR Wright tourists 006.jpgWright tourists are on a self-guided audio tour in Oak Park in 2005.

Are tours being monetized to pay staff and help maintain the property? What is the best way to enhance the visitors’ experiences while maintaining the integrity of the site? Is the site accessible to people with disabilities? If not, how can that be accomplished? What needs to done, now, to offer remote access to Wright sites?

LR Wright Tourism 014.jpgThe Hardy House, Racine, in 2013: weather can always be a wrinkle in travel plans.

The biennial Wright Sites Directors’ Summit co-sponsored by the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy addresses questions like that. The 2020 meeting was to be held at Wingspread March 16, just as the world shut down. It was, of course, canceled. The event returned to Wingspread on March 14 this year, with 32 organizations and sites represented in person, and two remotely. The theme was Building On Our Strengths(One of the participating organizations was the National Endowment for the Arts, founded at a Johnson Foundation conference at Wingspread).

This was the first Summit that Mary Beth Peterson, Board Vice President and Director of Tours and Volunteers at the Laurent House in Rockford, Illinois has attended in person. I asked her for her thoughts about the conference. Her enthusiastic review follows these photographs of one of the work sessions.

 

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Amanda Thurmann-Ward gives conferees a tour of Wingspread.

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LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 010.jpgAnna Kaplan, Graycliff, Derby (Buffalo), N.Y.

LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 013.jpgMike Lilek, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block, Milwaukee

LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 015.jpgDave Zaleski, Wyoming Valley School Cultural Center; Carrie Rodamaker, Taliesin

LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 016.jpgGregory Wittkopp from Cranbrook (Smith House), Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 018.jpgKaren Ettelson, Glencoe, Illinois Historical Society (Sherman Booth Cottage)

LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 019.jpgAhnquajj Kahmanne, Frank Lloyd Wright Trust (Chicago, Oak Park)

LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 024.jpgLibby Jordan, Rosenbaum House, Florence, Alabama

LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 025.jpgMary Beth Peterson, Laurent House, Rockford, left; Libby Garrison, Marin County Civic Center; and Tami Stanko, Affleck House, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 031.jpgKathryn Hund, Cedar Rock State Park, Lowell and Agnes Walter Estate, Quasqueton, Iowa, left; Peggy Bang, Wright on the Park, Mason City, Iowa; and Heidi Ruehle, Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, Oak Park

LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 036.jpgTiffany Wade, Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 041.jpgVivien Lasken from Fabyan Villa, Geneva, Illinois, left; Tiffany Wade, Price Tower; Kathryn Hund, Cedar Rock State Park, Lowell and Agnes Walter Estate, Quasqueton and, foreground, Ahnquajj Kahmanne, Frank Lloyd Wright Trust

LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 043.jpgStuart Graff, President and CEO, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 046.jpgZaleski, left; Rodamaker; Graff; Don Dekker, Meyer May House, Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Marta Wojcik, Westcott House, Springfield, Ohio

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LR 2022 Wright Sites Directors Conference 051.jpgBob Bohlmann, Bradley House, Kankakee, Illinois, left; Justin Gunther, Fallingwater; Barbara Gordon, Executive Director, Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy; and March Schweitzer, Unitarian Meeting House, Madison

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LR W & L Jacobs 1 002.jpgVolunteer docent James Wardrip, center, tells visitors about Jacobs 1 in Madison.

Links for the sponsors of the Summit:

https://www.johnsonfdn.org

https://franklloydwright.org

https://savewright.org

This year was my first year to attend – in person – the Wright Site Directors Summit Meeting at Wingspread. I did have the opportunity to attend virtually in 2021. The meeting far exceeded my expectations on all accounts. It was my first time to stay at the retreat center at Wingspread. From the moment I arrived, I felt that I was at a 5-star resort. The rooms were large with a breathtaking view of the landscape, a comfy bed with the finest of linens, and a spotless bathroom filled with spa-like bath products. The staff were all friendly and accommodating and everywhere I looked I was greeted with surprising amenities such as a kitchenette full of complementary drinks and snacks of all kinds – yes to Oreos as a bedtime snack! The living room area of the retreat center offered a large fireplace with an evening fire, books of all genres to enjoy – if only there had been more time – a bar for evening socialization with new friends, and a beautiful eating area with three walls of windows looking out onto the serene landscape at Wingspread. This meeting was my first time to tour Wingspread and the opportunity to enjoy fine dining in its Great Hall each evening was a particular highlight of my stay with each meal being my favorite meal. For all these reasons, I left wishing for one more day to relax and enjoy it all.

Of course, the real reason I was there was to learn and to connect with others in the Frank Lloyd Wright world of public sites. This, too, exceeded my expectations. The theme of the Summit Meeting, “Building on Our Strengths,” offered in-depth presentations on board governance, fundraising, identifying government opportunities, programming, and preservation documentation. These are all topics of extreme interest and importance to all of us working as executive directors or lead volunteers for our own Frank Lloyd Wright public site. The material for each session was informative and well presented. In addition to all I learned, I enjoyed connecting in person with so many whom I had only met virtually during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. I immediately felt welcome and at home with these new friends.

As I left the Summit Meeting, I felt extreme gratitude for the opportunity to be there as a representative for the Laurent House and for the time I spent with other like-minded site leaders and friends. I also left in awe of the extreme generosity and hospitality of the Johnson Foundation in offering this tranquil place to the Frank Lloyd Wright public sites community for no cost. My only regret is that I must wait two years to do this again.

Mary Beth Peterson, Board Vice President and Director of Tours and Volunteers,

Laurent House – Rockford, IL

 

 

Wright’s “Ship in the Woods”

© Mark Hertzberg (2022)

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Tallahassee, Florida is well off the beaten track in the World of Frank Lloyd Wright. It is 1151 miles southeast of Taliesin, 971 miles from Oak Park. And it is 270 miles from the Wright-designed campus at Florida Southern College where Clifton and George Lewis attended a World Federalist Conference in 1950. Florida Southern is the largest collection of Wright buildings at a single site, and Wright was on campus that day, too, for the opening of his new administration building.

LR Lewis Spring House 135.jpgThe Lewises met Wright at a reception, and, says their daughter Byrd Lewis Mashburn, asked him to design a house for their family of six. “We have a lot of children and not much money.” Wright agreed, and told them to “find your ground, not on a lot.” By 1952 they found a five acre parcel on the outskirts of Tallahassee, with a natural spring that flowed to Lake Jackson. The spring is what makes the house known more popularly as the Spring House, rather than the Clifton and George Lewis House. The house was built in just nine months in 1954.

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“It was a noisy, light filled, family fun, zoo! We were a loud and rambunctious bunch; when we got too rowdy, our dad would say, ‘No rough-housing, no monkey business!’ He was the oldest of eight children, five boys and three girls. He had already lived with a lot of rough-housing and monkey business.”

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“I moved away from Spring House when I was 20 and retuned to help my parents at the end of 1994. Our father died in 1996 and I continued to live with Mother until she could no longer live here in 2006. My brothers Ben and Van and a niece lived here together and separately until mid-2010. It took us a couple of years to empty the house of all family belongings and prepare for what we have been doing since the beginning of 2013, events and tours to raise funds for Spring House Institute, the 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit corporation which is doing this preservation project, to acquire, restore, complete, maintain and manage Lewis Spring House as the learning institute our parents dreamed for our home. Our mother died in 2014 and I moved back in the house in 2017. We continue to work towards those goals.”

The house has alternately been described as hemicycle and pod-shaped. This photo has wide angle distortion because I could only back up so far in the woods to show it all. This is now the master bedroom balcony, formerly the boys’ bedroom:

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The nautical theme of the house, from the prow-shape to porthole-like windows is not accidental.

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Lewis Spring House

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Mashburn explains: “Mother and I were both named for her mother, Clifton, and our dad named the sailboat he designed and built for our family after Mother…The “Clifton” was a huge, all year, part of our lives. It was 21’ long, 8’ wide and weighed 2 tons, constructed out of tidewater red cypress…

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“…They would pack the car the night before and wake us up in the dark to make the trip to Spring Creek where he kept the Clifton in fresh water to keep the barnacles from growing back so fast. He didn’t want to scrape and repaint the boat more often than he had to, and gave each of my brothers, George Edward, Van and Ben, a turn doing that with friends. He’d get them started. It was my turn when the boat was struck by lightning and needed a repair that my father wasn’t able to leave work to do himself…My parents gave me the Clifton in 1977 and I planned to build a square screen house around it and have it as the bedroom. It would have been wonderful. It is beyond repair but still holds us all in our hearts. 

“I believe that when our parents told Mr. Wright how much the Clifton was part of our lives all year, that is what inspired the design of our home. When I told William Storrer that, he heartily agreed with me. He said, ‘Absolutely! That is exactly the kind of thing Frank Lloyd Wright looked for, something the family treasured to somehow incorporate into the design of the family’s home.’ And look what he [Wright] gave us! A ship in the woods!”

Spring House is admittedly in rough shape. That is why the family formed a 501(c)(3) to raise money for the extensive repairs needed. And that is why visitors make a $50 tax-deductible donation on-line before paying $25 a person to schedule a tour of the house. It is money that goes to a worthwhile cause. Mashburn was not reticent to let me photograph the house in full detail, problems and all. I am interspersing my photos with her memories about growing up in Spring House.

LR Lewis Spring House 017.jpgThe living room, master bedroom balcony, and dining room face the woods.

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“The house was full of sound when we were home. It has amazing acoustics! Everyone in our family is deaf more or less and I really believe part of it is always trying so hard not to hear that we eventually couldn’t. At some point pretty early on, our parents bought a hifi stereo with an FM/AM radio and there was lots of music. In the beginning it was primarily classical music and some opera…We had a baby grand piano and a copy of the Great American Song Book, and we’d sing songs together. Van could play many of the songs.

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“We had room at the built-in dining table Mr. Wright designed for us, to all have our meals together, then get ready for school (we all did our homework on that table) or head out to the woods or play with our animals: a black dachshund named Princess Margaret Rose, my cat named Snicklefritz, my goat, Goatie, and 10 acres to explore. Van [one of her brothers] fed squirrels corn in a large bowl on the terrace wall were it ends, and had an incubator in the basement where he hatched out baby ducks for the pond. Our dad made homebrew and scuppernong wine in the basement. Years later, different boys I had gone to school with told me they had had the privilege of having some of our dad’s brew with him when we were in college.” 

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“…when weather called for it, our dad ALWAYS built a big roaring fire (to keep the furnace from kicking on as long as he could) so the house was full of those wonderful burning oak smells mixed in with aromas of the bacon and coffee in the kitchen.”

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“And he had a smoker on the half-pod concrete point out of the east double-glass doors. Winter was duck hunting season and my dad and brothers would hunt down the road at Lake Jackson (early Native American name was Okeeheepkee, our road’s name; it means disappearing waters!) so he would smoke or grill ducks, and later mullet out there. In and out of the right hand door he’d go, and those delicious smells would mix and mingle with the other things cooking and the firewood burning. A little breeze might come or go with him so occasionally smoke would blow out of the fireplace; some of what’s on the chimney hood. If as rarely happened, too much smoke was blown into the living room, one of us children would go outside to the porthole windows and open one or two until it dissipated inside.”

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LR Lewis Spring House 083.jpgThe balcony outside the master bedroom overlooks the living room and then continues outside, facing the woods.

“There was a croaker sack rope swing across the stream and a huge dead oak to cross over to the swing. We’d climb our dad’s 12’ step ladder (used to wash the windows with) and one of us would carry the rope over to the person on the ladder and we’d jump off and sail out over the stream! We’d yell as loud s as we could, “Ahh-ya-bah-yaaaaa!!! And when we’d swing back to the ladder another of us would jump on with us, in the other direction. There was enough water in the stream to drop and land on our behinds, one at a time. My brothers swam in the pond; I don’t remember doing that but I did used to sit in the pool of cold clear spring water below the 5’ waterfall before our dad had the dam built so we’d have the pond. The pond was always full until sometime after an unpermitted storm water pond was built next to our south property line and didn’t perk. It was built above pipe clay, or Fuller’s Earth, and changed the way the underground water worked. We hope to restore our spring so we have water all year again, instead of five or six months when the ground water level is high enough to fill up the pond.”

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The shape of the house is echoed in the curved lines in the living room floor:LR Lewis Spring House 121.jpg

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The kitchen is curved and diminutive. It is on the first floor of the round tower by the front door. The two bathrooms are on the second floor of the tower. These steel beams will support the roof between the front door and the washhouse (the small structure to the right of the stairs in the photo above) when funds are raised to rebuild the roof.

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LR Lewis Spring House 075.jpgThe photo above was taken looking up from the kitchen.

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The living room balcony is also the upstairs hallway:

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The master bedroom, formerly the boys’ bedroom:

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A wood screen overlooking the living room balcony can be opened and closed:

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Wright wanted one large bathroom, but the bank that was going to make the loan for the house specified two bathrooms for a home with six occupants:

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Clifton and George Lewis were civic minded and active in the local civil rights movement. Their accomplishments were recognized by the county board. Their footprints are among those permanently etched in a downtown sidewalk on the city’s Downtown Heritage Trail, along with those of 50 other civil rights “foot soldiers.” A bus boycott, like the famous one in Montgomery, Alabama, forced the desegregation of city buses:

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You can help support the restoration of Spring House with a donation:

https://www.preservespringhouse.org

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A Winter Day at Taliesin

All photos © Mark Hertzberg (2022)

I have been to Taliesin countless times, but never in winter, until Sunday when we had a lunch date with our friend, Minerva Montooth. It had snowed overnight. We would not be able to get to Spring Green until Noon, so there would be no photos in the morning’s “golden light.” I fared better in that respect in the late afternoon. But in between, at Noon, there was a rich, rich blue sky.

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Except for this first photo, I am taking you on a tour of Taliesin in the order I photographed the estate. Get comfortable, there are lots of photos. and you will see how my day’s take evolved. The first stop was a drive through the Visitor’s Center or Riverview Terrace. First, this establishing shot, and then a few details that caught my eye:

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Then onto Hillside, to enter the estate from that end…but I found that the driveway is closed for winter. No matter. I saw these views of Midway Barn and Romeo and Juliet windmill on the road to Hillside. The towers are vertical punctuation marks to the horizontal composition of Midway:

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I played with different ways to photograph Romeo and Juliet and Tan-y-Deri as we approached the driveway to Taliesin:

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The house as seen from the approach did not photograph well at midday, but I took record shots. I wish there was more snow on the hill below the birdwalk:

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I was happier with what I saw from below the house, starting with the lead photo in this piece.

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I am a photojournalist. As we say in our circles, after you find a photo, you “work it.” I have to thank John Clouse again for offering to sell me his 200-500mm lens at a good price last summer. While a newspaper colleague of mine in the early 1980s – before today’s fine zoom lenses – once said that “The best telephoto lens is your feet,” (i.e., walk toward and away from your subject rather than rely on the lens), this lens was especially welcome on a cold day after a fresh snowfall. I thought of the countless treks through the estate that the incomparable Pedro Guerrero made when he took his many memorable black and white winter photographs of Taliesin. What would he have done in color, or would he have stayed with black and white, which he printed so beautifully?

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The bird walk is an extraordinary cantilever:

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Caroline Hamblen was returning from feeding her chickens in the apple orchard as I crested the hill:

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Then it was time to park and explore on foot:

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The next photo is at Minerva’s front door:

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I saw this on my way in:

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I saw this on my way out after lunch and lively conversation:

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Then, one more swing through the estate with magic light at the “golden hour”:

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Farewell, Taliesin, until next time!

 

 

 

OA + D’s Encore 

© Mark Hertzberg (2022). Chandler photographs courtesy of, and © Michael Rust

There are seemingly not enough hours in the day for some people, including Randolph C. Henning, Eric M. O’Malley, and William B. Scott, Jr. 

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They have “day jobs,” but because they are also three individuals who are passionate about, and collected material associated with, Frank Lloyd Wright, his students, and other organic practitioners, they founded Organic Architecture + Design (OA+D) in 2013. Their mission is to honor the past, celebrate the present and encourage the future of organic architecture and design through education, conservation of original design materials, publications and exhibitions.

RHM Iannelli Planning Meeting 005.jpgO’Malley, Tim Samuelson, left, then the City of Chicago Cultural Historian, and David Jameson meet in Samuelson’s archives near OA+D’s, in June 2018 to plan an exhibit about Alfonse Iannelli at the Racine, Wisconsin, Heritage Museum.

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They felt that big institutions are selective about what is saved, often rejecting worthy collections. They perceived a rapid loss of material with historical value associated with the organic movement—especially regarding lesser known architects and designers. Drawing from their own personal collections, as well as others that they were aware of, they also felt that a journal promoting an awareness of Organic Architecture (past, present and future) could be of interest and sustained.

OA+D’s list of accomplishments since 2013 is impressive:

-They are in their ninth year of publishing the Journal of Organic Architecture + Design, a quality glossy journal produced three times a year, each issue guest edited by a scholar and devoted to a single topic supporting their mission.

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-In 2016 they built and placed on long term loan to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation a replica of Wright’s model of the unrealized San Francisco Call newspaper building (1913) to replace the original model which left its longtime home in Hillside at Taliesin when Wright’s models were acquired by the Museum of Modern Art. 

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-They have published several books, including a monograph about the box projects of William Wesley Peters:

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-They maintain archive space in Chicago, in Los Angeles, and in Lexington, Kentucky, and now also in Chandler, Arizona. A link to their noteworthy holdings is at:

https://www.oadarchives.com/collection-s-list

So, what could Organic Architecture + Design (OA + D) do for an encore? How about recently adding a fourth archive site (Chandler) after being selected by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in July to be the stewards of what remains of the vast archive of Taliesin Architects (TA), first known as Taliesin Associated Architects (TAA), formed after Wright’s death in 1959? After the Museum of Modern Art and Arizona State University took their share, the majority of the collection, which includes more than 50,000 drawings, is housed in OA+D’s new archive in Chandler, Arizona.

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The grand opening was in December. (While one of OA+D’s missions is to make their holdings available to scholars and aficionados of Wright’s and related work, the TA archive is so extensive that it will take time to ingest it, and there is no definite date for public access.)

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Scott says, “Probably the most exciting things they (the Foundation) gave us are these models.” Those models include a seven foot model of the 1963 proposal for the Belmont (N.Y.) Race Course, a proposal published in Architectural Forum, and a model built by the late David Dodge of a country club in Hawaii ( based on Wright’s design for a home for Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe). There is also a seven foot long rendition of the Court of the Seven Seas in San Francisco by Ling Po. He adds that Stuart Graff (President and CEO of the Foundation) “deserves a big thank you for this” as does the entire archive staff at Taliesin West.

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Some might step back and rest their laurels on an accomplishment like the TA acquisition. But that is not OA+D’s nature. Inevitably they will surprise us again. In the meantime, follow their work in the Journal. An annual subscription is $50, money well spent. 

Links:

OA+D: https://www.oadarchives.com

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation on the transfer of the TA archive to OA+D: 

https://franklloydwright.org/frank-lloyd-wright-foundation-partners-with-oad-archives-to-steward-taliesin-architects-archive/

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