Why the Flag Becomes Where’s the Flag?

© Mark Hertzberg

This is a story that has a different ending than I anticipated when I started writing about the flag on the Hardy House.

Tom Szymczak, one of the stewards of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Thomas P. Hardy House in Racine, Wisconsin, was moved by the 1908 photograph we have courtesy of the Organic Architecture and Design Archives (OA+D) to hang a 6′ x 10′ flag on the front of the house a few weeks ago. He intended to leave it up through the Fourth of July festivities which are a big event in Racine. The new flag was not a political statement. Quite simply, he wrote me, “The 1908 photo was the inspiration.”

OAD_Racine Homes c1908 photos_01.jpg© OA+D Archives, and used with permission.

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I took this picture after he hung the flag. It was to be a place holder in my files of photos of the house because I greatly looked forward to photographing Racine’s Fourth Fest parade passing by the house this morning with the flag as the background. Racine’s parade is legendary…it normally has 120 units and takes more than two hours to pass a given spot (this year’s parade was significantly smaller because of the pandemic). Below are photos which Dave Archer took when his family lived in the  house from 1947 – 1957, and one which I took in 2004:

Archer 4th July, 12.jpg

4th Parade Hardy003.jpg

So where is my photo of today’s parade? I didn’t see a flag when I went to the house. I emailed a “where is the flag” query to the Szymczaks and got a surprising and disappointing call back.

Their neighbor caught someone stealing the flag late Sunday night. How did the thief get the flag? She climbed onto the outside extension of the front hall cabinets in front of the house to pull it down. The neighbor got in a tussle with the thief. She lost the fight for the flag, but she got the thief’s license plate number and police are on the case. I used a common, but loathsome, expression when the Szymczaks told me what happened: “That really sucks.”

Hardy House Flag Theft 001.jpg

Hardy House Flag Theft 003.jpg

Hardy House Flag Theft 004.jpg

Hardy House Flag Theft 007.jpg

The thief did one positive thing, though. She left a nice palm print for the police.

Hardy House Flag Theft 002.jpg

 

 

4 thoughts on “Why the Flag Becomes Where’s the Flag?

  1. How very sad! Hard to remember most people are “good”. I hope the neighbor is okay and appreciate their valiant effort!

  2. I am grateful that you explained the historical reason for the flag which was hung. When I first saw it the other day when driving past I erroneously assumed it was a political statement and was saddened. I now apologize for my unfounded assumption, and I thank the current Stewards of the House for their effort to continue its proud history.

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