New stewards for Wright in Shorewood

(c) 2016 Mark Hertzberg

Angela and Nicholas Hayes joined the Wright family at the end of 2016 when they became the new stewards of the Elizabeth Murphy American System-Built house (1917) at 2106 E. Newton Ave. in Shorewood (near Milwaukee). The house, which was altered in the 1970s with the addition of a basement-level garage, was documented as one of Wright’s American System-Built homes in June, 2015. The siding, which either covers stucco, or more likely replaced it, also masks its Wright heritage. Still, Nicholas notes, ” The entire home remains as drawn, down to the knobs on the dining cabinets.”

The story of the announcement of the re-discovery of the house as one of Wright’s is at https://wrightinracine.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/newly-discovered-wright-home-near-milwaukee/LR ASB Newton 0002.jpg

 

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The Hayes outlined their interest in Wright and commitment to staying in Shorewood in a letter to the previous stewards, Roger and Pat Wisialowski. The letter, which accompanied their offer to purchase, follows:

“Both lifelong Milwaukeeans, we came to Shorewood 21 years ago to raise our kids among lovely neighbors and homes like yours. We lovingly upgraded our own home and gardens, I built businesses nearby, and Angela became the Art Teacher at Atwater School, where she teaches Shorewood children about local art and architecture, among other things. One of her class projects was to recreate Shorewood facades in clay after hiking neighborhoods, talking about history and engineering, and making 2D pencil sketches. Hundreds of colorful miniatures of familiar homes rest on Shorewoodian fireplace mantels alongside student-signed architectural renderings as provenance.

“With our adult daughters now in college, we’re entering a new chapter: we plan to stay in Shorewood, where we hope to give back. We think your home is an important key.

“Like you, we plan to be attentive and careful stewards and archivists while we live at 2106 East Newton. We will protect its glory, celebrate its importance, and secure its future. We plan to study every detail of Wright’s plans and workmanship and make sure that they remain intact and fresh. We will invest in and care for the home and yard as an important artistic and civic statement.

“To that end, Angela is already supplementing her curriculum to teach students about Wright’s vision, genius and aesthetic through her own experience of living in it. I’ve read every word written about the home since your discovery and will continue to engage the experts to try to uncover new clues and details about its place in our neighborhood. The home will remain a well-cared-for showpiece, although it will not be trampled by tourists. It will stay a private, quiet neighborhood gem, while also, importantly, creating a direct, tangible teaching moment for local kids.”

The Hayes are excited about the discoveries they have made in just a few weeks: “We’ve made some amazing discoveries in one short month: the original porch floor paint was hidden under carpet and parquet. Maple floors run throughout the upstairs (most were covered by linoleum and carpet). The all-birch cabinetry and trim can be painstakingly returned to original with classic materials: vinegar, steel wool, shellac and of course, time.” They are posting their progress on Twitter, including the following pictures, used with their permission.DSC_5302.jpegDSC_5304.jpegDSC_5300.jpeg

 

First Wright Heritage Trail Signage Placed on I-94

(c) Mark Hertzberg 2016

The new Frank Lloyd Wright Trail was dedicated this morning in Madison. The trail, which runs from the Illinois – Wisconsin state line to Richland Center, is a joint effort by the state departments of tourism and transportation to highlight the rich heritage of Wright’s work in his native state. About 142 signs have been placed in the last few weeks on I-94 and other highways marking the path to nine Wright sites.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed the bipartisan bill establishing the Trail in a ceremony at Taliesin in March:

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Signs directing motorists to specific public sites such as the SC Johnson Administration Building and Research Tower and Wingspread in Racine will be erected in spring.

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A link to the Department of Tourism page with the official map follows:

http://www.travelwisconsin.com/frank-lloyd-wright

Summer and Fall at Penwern

(c) Mark Hertzberg 2016

It is time to revisit Penwern, the magnificent estate Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Chicago “capitalist” Fred B. Jones on Delavan Lake, Wisconsin in 1900 – 1903. Penwern was Jones’ country home, a place to entertain his many friends from Chicago. It is no less a magnificent home to welcome friends today than it was during the myriad of summer parties mentioned in contemporary newspaper social notes.

The entry is one of my favorite parts of the house. Visitors enter the house under a low ceiling (the balcony or passageway from the stairs to the bedrooms is above this entry ceiling). Instead of being confronted by walls and doors, they can immediately look into the billiard and dining rooms (left) and living room (right).

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We see friends of Sue and John Major, stewards of Penwern since 1994,at the Majors’ annual party celebrating the 4th of July. While Wright specified that the front porch (facing north and the lake) and the two side porches should have curved walls, the walls were either built straight or modified by Jones. John O’Shea, steward of Penwern from 1989 – 1994, rebuilt the front porch to Wright’s design. The Majors did the same with the side porches last year. The curved walls echo both the arched porte-cochere and the 28′ foot long arch over the front porch.

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The Majors also removed the wall separating the front porch from the east side porch:

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Early photos of Penwern show a cairn near the gate lodge. The Majors recreated it this year:

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They also uncovered a cistern at the gate lodge:

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There are often different views of the lake through the boathouse windows and through the arched porte-cochere:

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Fall is spectacular in Wisconsin. This past weekend begged a visit to Penwern, cameras in hand:

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The stable and the house:

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The gate lodge:

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We end our visit with a photo of Jones’ monogrammed wind vane which was once atop the stable. It is now in the living room:

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Visit www.penwern.com to see many more photos of the house, both historic and contemporary, as well as copies of Wright’s surviving drawings.