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Kohn receives the Wright Spirit Award from Frank Lloyd Wright
Building Conservancy President Ron Duplack.
FLWHEP Receives National Recognition
The Wright Spirit Award, the highest accolade given by the Frank
Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC), has been awarded to the
Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park (FLWHEP). The award honors
those individuals and organizations that demonstrate extraordinary
efforts in stewardship of Wright buildings or furtherance of the
The award in the public domain category was presented to FLWHEP
Chairman Joanne Kohn at the organizations annual conference
in Los Angeles on October 22.
The Spirit Award honors those who have made significant achievements
in the preservation of Wrights works in the public domain
or rescued public Wright buildings.
Ron Scherubel, executive director of the FLWBC, announced the award
in recognition of the work of Joanne, the Board of the FLWHEP, and
St. Louis County government.
The leadership of this group and cooperative efforts of the
St. Louis County government and the many other individuals and organizations
that committed funds to this endeavor are an excellent example of
how the public and private sector can work together to preserve
some of Americas most significant architecture, said
Mayor Mike Swoboda and the Kirkwood City Council issued a proclamation
recognizing Chairman Joanne Kohn, the Board of the FLWHEP, and
St. Louis County government for receiving the FLWBC Wright Spirit
Award. The proclamation was given at the Nov. 17th Kirkwood
City Council meeting.
Left to right: FLWHEP Vice-Chairman Bob Hall, board members
Agnes Garino and Jan Nagy, all
Kirkwood residents, and Joanne are congratulated by Mayor Swoboda.
A Note from the Chairman
Receiving the Wright Spirit Award in Los Angeles at the Frank Lloyd
Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC) meeting on October 22 was very
exciting because it was an award from our peers and gives us national
recognition. The FLWBC board of directors now wants to come
to St. Louis to see the house and to hold meetings here in the Spring
While we have saved a Usonian house in St. Louis, the urgency to
save other Wright properties was particularly poignant after seeing
the deteriorating state of the textile block houses in Los Angeles
such as the Ennis, Millard and Freeman houses and the rock house
in the Santa Monica mountains built for Arch Oboler, the movie producer
Thanks to the establishment of the FLWBC, which holds a national
annual conference like the one in LA to educate the public, awareness
has been raised about the incredible architectural legacy of Frank
Lloyd Wright and the need to save his properties.
My thanks to all of you whose contributions have helped us reach
our match for the Whitaker Foundation for the driveway fund and
to all of you who helped put on the benefit whose proceeds went
to the match. To our donors, members, and board members, we
are extremely grateful for your monetary contributions. To our docents
who continue to give hundreds of hours to make the house available
to the public, we thank you.
I particularly want to pay tribute to our dear friend and benefactor,
Alice Gerdine, who died in September just weeks short of reaching
her 100th birthday. She will be remembered as an early supporter
who immediately recognized the importance of saving the Kraus House
and was always there with encouragement and support. No one
exemplified the spirit of the Spirit Award more than Alice. We
miss her greatly.
Joanne Kohn, Chairman
The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park
Janet Schoedinger recalls that her first knowledge of the Kraus
House was as a teenager growing up in Kirkwood. She remembers that
it was one of those modern houses up on a hillside in
Sugar Creek that you could not see from Ballas Road.
Many years later, after reading an article in the Post-Dispatch,
she became interested in the effort to preserve the Kraus House
and open it to the public. When Joanne Kohn asked Janet if she would
be interested in getting involved and assist the project, she was
pleased to get the chance not only to serve on the Board but to
finally get to see the house.
Her involvement began in 2001 shortly after the house was purchased.
Eager to help, she trained as a docent and began giving tours soon
after the restoration was completed. As Membership Chairman, she
does the fund raising record keeping for the Friends of The Frank
Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park.
For her, it has been great fun to put her fund raising experience
to work managing the donors to FLWHEP and, as a docent, to conduct
tours which has heightened her interest in visiting other Frank
Lloyd Wright buildings.
Although Ive lived in Kirkwood 35 years, it was a number of
years before I realized there was a Wright-designed house less than
two miles from my home. Whenever Id drive by, I tried to see
what I could of the house through the trees, being only able to
see the roof line in the dead of winter. In the mid-90s, the Kraus
House was on a house tour. It was my first and only opportunity
to see the house while Mr. Kraus was still living in it. The entire
interior was breathtaking.
Not long after, I heard that Mr. Kraus was trying to sell the house.
I can remember thinking how lucky Kirkwood was to have one of only
two Wright-designed houses in the St. Louis area. I couldnt
imagine it wouldnt be saved.
It was a couple years later that I learned of Joannes involvement
to save the house. Since I worked with Joanne previously on the
Repertory Theatre Backers board in the early 1970s, I knew that
if she was involved, every effort would be made to successfully
save the house from developers. I took an opportunity when I saw
her to mention my interest in Wright and in being involved. This
was after the purchase of the house by the FLWHEP.
I agreed to come on the board, to give tours in those first years,
and to edit the newsletter.
Im pleased to show individuals and groups, especially school
groups, what a great asset we have in Kirkwood.
I love this house not only because it is part of my community and
its proud architectural heritage, but because of its geometry, compactness,
setting, and fantastic collection of furnishings. Its truly
a thrill to be part of an organization that realizes the importance
of saving and maintaining a FLW treasure for the public to enjoy.
We Have Made the Whitaker Match
Thanks to foundations, proceeds from the June benefit, and membership
gifts, we have now raised the $200,000 necessary to match the $50,000
challenge grant from the Whitaker Foundation to help finance the
building of the road.
We are extremely grateful to the Trio, Bernoudy, Stupp and Garvey
foundations and the Wednesday Club for their contributions and to
all of you who made extra gifts to help us accomplish the goal.
Thank you also to the many individuals and our membership for their
generous membership dues, their participation in the benefit, tribute
gifts and all forms of support.
Bob Hall, Vice-Chairman of the FLWHEP and Chairman of the road committee,
reports that work on the road may not be started until the Spring. Meanwhile
planning sessions are being conducted with members of the road committee
consisting of Jane Shapleigh, Peter Shank, Janet Schoedinger, Agnes
Garino, Gene Mackey, Laura Meyer, Kay Dusenbery and Joanne Kohn.
There are many considerations regarding the shape of the road to
accommodate fire trucks, surface material, landscaping, etc.
While we have made the Whitaker match, your help will still be most
welcomed. The project has many facets like enhancing the landscaping
of the road, plantings around the house and at the eastern border
of the property to secure a better separation between Ebsworth Park
and our neighbors.FLW Birthday
Architectural historian Jane King Hession with Russell Kraus
at the FLW Birthday party.
Party and Celebration of 50th Anniversary of the
by Laura Meyer
More than 150 friends of The Frank Lloyd Wright in Ebsworth Park
celebrated the birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright and the 50th anniversary
of the Kraus House on Sunday, June 5th.
Friends gathered under the tent in the park to enjoy a lecture,
Frank Lloyd Wright in New York: The Plaza Years, 1954-1959
by architectural historian and writer Jane King Hession. Ms.
Hession is a member of the board of the FLW Building Conservancy
and a docent at the FLW-designed Pope-Leighey house in Virginia.
The event also featured the opening of an exhibit of prints and
woodcuts by Werner Drewes (1899-1985), tours of the house, music
by the St. Louis Ragtimers, delicious food by Something Elegant,
birthday cake, and the sale of newly-designed Peter Shank T-shirts,
postcards by Peter Tuteur, and other items from The Shop.
The benefit raised more than $28,000 to help match the Whitaker
Challenge to make the road and parking more accessible. I want to
thank my co-chair Frisky Brigham and our hardworking committee and
all those who attended and contributed to the event. Special
appreciation to our generous benefactors, Alice Gerdine and Joan
and Mitchell Markow.
The visit of Ms. Hession provided the opportunity to further promote
the house. FLWHEP Chairman Joanne Kohn and Ms. Hession were featured
on KWMU-FM on the Friday before the event. Ms. Hession was also
The FLWHEP T-shirt by Peter Shank is available in The Shop.
For information about all FLW products call 822-8359.
Building Conservancy Conference in California
by Joanne Kohn
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC) meeting this
year was held in Los Angeles in October with a pre-conference on
modernism in Palm Springs. The focus of the Palm Springs and
Los Angeles meeting was on Wright and his progeny; namely, his former
apprentices, associates, his son Lloyd, and grandson Eric. We
saw houses by Lloyd, Eric, former apprentices such as John
Lautner, and associates Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra and
many other prominent architects.
The meeting focused on Wright's career in California and how his
style changed after working on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo bringing
some of the aesthetic of carved stone, concrete and ornament to
the California houses. He was now working in the mountains and not
on the prairie and his houses fit the new topography. The materials
came from the mountains in the form of granite and rock.
The new materials produced new problems being dealt with today. There
were panels of scholars, engineers, architects and scientists at
the meeting explaining the continuing disintegration of the houses
that were built of concrete and concrete blocks known as textile
The textile block houses differed from Wright's prairie style
house that were built primarily in the midwest of brick and wood. Well-known
examples of the prairie houses are the Dana-Thomas House in Springfield,
Illinois and the Robie House in Chicago. The Hollyhock House
in Los Angeles was not a textile block house, but was the first
house to differ from the prairie style houses in materials and style. The
material used was structural clay tile with carved concrete which
Wright called "art stone" in a style suggested by
Mayan architecture. Carved concrete in the shape of the hollyhock
plant added to the texture of the building.
The textile block houses consisting of the Ennis
(1924), Freeman (1923), Storer (1923) and the Millard House (1923) were
made of 16 inch square concrete blocks. The concrete was mixed
with ground granite selected from the actual building sites. Each
block was put into a mold of a particular shape which Wright designed.
Some houses have more than one block design. The Millard House,
while having a similar appearance to the other textile block houses, has
certain structural differences.
The blocks, except in the Millard House, have a groove
through which fits a steel reinforcing rod that is the connecting
link from one block to the other. Over the years, water has seeped
into the rods, rusting and expanding them so that they have deteriorated
the concrete, and the fronts of the textile blocks have spalled.
The brick on the Kraus House was inflicted with the same process
of water seeping into the stack of brick, spalling or disintegrating
the brick and forcing the front of the brick to flake off.
The Ennis House, the largest of the textile block houses, has endured
the Northridge earthquake in 1994 and the mud slides of 2004. Attempts
were made to repair the house by its foundation's board of directors
which received a matching grant from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA). The board, however, did
not produce the match; so the restoration has been slow to materialize.
In keeping with its mission, The Frank Lloyd Building Conservancy recently
stepped in to reconstitute the foundation board by adding members
from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Conservancy
and getting an extension from FEMA to raise the match. There
is more hope now with this intervention by FLWBC that the Ennis
House can be saved, but millions of dollars still need to be raised.
Several hours were spent at the conference on Olive Hill, the location
of the newly earthquake-retrofitted Hollyhock House, the project
that initially brought Wright to Los Angeles. Conceived as
a center for the arts by Aline Barnsdall, the Hollyhock House was
built in 1917. Needing help on the project, Wright brought
his associate, Rudolph Schindler, to work on the house which included
building furniture. His son, Lloyd, mainly trained as a landscape
architect, supervised the construction of the house after Wright
returned to Taliesin.
Lloyd remained in California and supervised the construction of
all the textile block houses. Schindler stayed in Los Angeles
with another FLW associate, Richard Neutra, whose designs veered
from Wright's style to the international style. To Wright's
great disappointment, Neutra was later chosen as the architect
of the Palm Springs house for the Kaufmann family for which
Wright had designed Fallingwater.
At the pre-conference attendees were able to visit the newly restored
Kaufmann house (1946), by far the most elegant of all the houses
that were visited. Besides Neutra, there were other modernist
houses featured on the tour of Palm Springs. The most unusual
was a round aluminum house built in 1961 for businessman, Floyd
D'Angelo, which circulated by a motor originally synchronized to
the movement of the sun. Chairs inside were named after some of
the special guests who visited this house like John, George, Paul
and Ringo of The Beatles.
After World War II, thousands of small houses were built
to accommodate middle class families who were now moving to
the desert. They were built of modern materials utilizing steel,
corrugated aluminum and glass. Tours were taken of houses framed
with steel construction that were prefabricated and constructed
quickly. Architects such as Donald Wexler, who designed some
of these houses and is now retired, greeted the Conservancy attendees.
Tours of houses designed by E. Stewart Williams, William F. Cody,
Albert Frey, William Krisel, etc. gave us a taste of not only the
boom in modernism that occurred in Palm Springs but also the
present-day movement of preservationists to save its architectural
Some of the highlights of the LA main conference were meeting the
couple who made a movie about FLW's Imperial Hotel in Tokyo
and learning from their fascinating film how the Japanese apprentices
and their disciples were affected by Wright in subsequent buildings
of their own design. Seeing the Charles and Ray Eames case
study house (1949) in Pacific Palisades and the Grace Miller house
(1937) designed by Neutra in Palm Springs was exciting particularly
since Eames and Miller both lived in St. Louis.
Meeting Eric Lloyd Wright, going to his home in the Santa Monica
mountains, and seeing him oversee the restoration of Arch Oboler's
house in the mountains showed me that the person most devoted to
keeping the legacy of FLW alive is Eric. Besides doing his own architecture,
he has been working on the Ennis House, restored Auldbrass
in Yamessee, South Carolina, the only plantation Wright ever built,
and many other projects. Eric is a lovely gentleman who was
delighted that we in St. Louis have saved his "grandfather's
The whole meeting was incredible, and I encourage you all to attend
the next conference which will be held in September 2006 in Michigan.
by Agnes Garino
This past summer included a trip to Orlando for a symposium. With
FLWs only large complex of buildings less than 50 miles away,
I couldnt resist the opportunity to visit Florida Southern
College in Lakeland, one of the oldest colleges in the state.
Wright was contacted by the president of the Methodist affiliated
school to design a great education temple in Florida.
Described as A Child of the Sun, based on Wrights
description of the college as Out of the ground, into the
light, a child of the sun, it is the largest
one-site-collection of FLW Architecture in the World.
Wright described the pattern of the West Campus as the cultural
value of organic buildings well suited to time, purpose, and place.
At the entrance to the campus is a large copper plaque, The
Frank Lloyd Wright Campus of Florida Southern College that
gives a brief history of the campus and Wrights involvement.
The plaque states that Wright insisted that the colleges
individual buildings reflect their environment through the use of
Native materials all universally adapted to the uses of young
The 80-acre complex sits in a neighborhood of historic buildings
near downtown Lakeland. Wright designed 18 buildings for the colleges
west campus; 12 were built. The buildings, all with off-white cast
concrete exteriors and many trimmed with copper fascia, were designed
Wright designed the hexagonal Anne Pfeiffer Chapel (1938), with
its immense bell tower, clerestory windows and colored pieces of
glass that permit natural light to enter. The Danforth (Minor) Chapel
(1954), framed in tidewater red cypress, is the only building on
campus with leaded glass. The Pfeiffer now serves as the colleges
performance center. The Danforth Chapel, also referred to as the
miniature cathedral, was built by students.
Some of the most impressive structures are the Emile E. Watson
Benjamin Fine Administration Buildings (1948) which include the
Presidents office. Complete with samples of Wright-designed
furnishings, chairs, benches, tables, and glass screens, visitors
can experience here some of Wrights most practical seating.
Other Wright buildings include the $1 million plus Polk County Science
Building (1958), with the only Wright designed planetarium that
has been constructed and the Lucius Pond Ordway Building (1942)
for industrial arts with interior courtyards, a circular theater
with the upper tier accentuated by 30-60-90 degree triangles lying
on their hypotenuse. According to the walking tour brochure, the
building which has been compared to Taliesin West, was supposedly
one of Wrights favorites because of its simplicity of design.
The campus library holds one of the largest collections of FLW materials
in the country and a large selection of Wright books.
What impressed me was the openness of the interiors, with some of
the buildings having rooms the width of the building with light
on both sides. The condition of the buildings vary considerably.
The Danforth Chapel has been restored, while some of the others
are definitely in need of work.
So if a trip to the Orlando area and the world of Disney is ever
in your plans, consider adding a day to your vacation to visit Lakeland
and Florida Southern College to tour one of FLWs most exciting
projects, according to Wright a truly American campus.
Lakeland is located southwest of Orlando off I-4 at 111 Lake Hollingsworth
Drive. Self-guided tour brochures are available at the visitors
center and the library. The visitors center is open Tuesday
Sunday. For information and hours: 863-680-4110 or 680-4116 or www.flsouthern.edu.
FLWHEPs Taliesin group at the Jacobs II House in Madison.
Trip to Taliesin
by Frisky Brigham
Fifteen of us Frank Lloyd Wright fans spent a thrilling three days
in September in Wisconsin, FLWs birthplace and location of
Taliesin, his home and architectural school for almost fifty years.
Due to excellent planning by Joanne Kohn and Karen Bergenthal, a
travel agent who specializes in art and architecture tours and especially
FLW, we were able to visit over fifteen of his buildings which covered
his whole career from teenage years to the Monona Terrace convention
center completed in 1997.
They included houses lived in by their original owners as well as
ones bought more recently and restored, a couple of Usonian houses,
a restaurant, a Unitarian chapel, and summer houses on Delavan Lake.
We stayed in Madison, Wisconsin, where we were fortunate to see
a new exhibition at the Wisconsin Historical Society of rare early
photographs of Taliesin. The photos were recently bought on eBay
by architectural historian Jack Holzheuter, who talked about the
We are looking forward to the next FLW trip scheduled for April
2007, in the New York City area.
docents Ann and Hank Bauer visited with Russell Kraus this summer
at Washington University's Des Lee Gallery.
"Russell Kraus: A Retrospective"
displayed a collection of work including paintings, a slide show
of stained glass, art deco-influenced jewelry, WPA-sponsored war
posters, and product advertisements.
The exhibition included 18 of his 30 paintings of children and several
self-portraits painted between 1942-60.