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Recognition for Purchase and Restoration

Joanne Kohn Doris Danna

Kirkwood Landmarks Commission award
Doris Danna (left) and Joanne Kohn
receiving the award.

Efforts of the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park (FLWHEP)
to save and restore the Kraus House have received widespread recognition.

The City of Kirkwood Landmarks Commission presented the FLWHEP the
“Best Residential Conservation for 2002” award, as “a structure which
has been restored to its former glory, maintained and improved through
landscaping and cosmetic treatment, thereby reinforcing its historic character.”

The award was accepted by Chairman Joanne Kohn during a ceremony
held at the Kirkwood Train Station during Preservation Week May 12-18.
Several board members and contractor Jeff Markway attended the
presentation. Doris Danna, 2002 chairman of the Landmarks Commission,
is a member of the advisory board of the FLWHEP.

Joanne Kohn Bob Hall Roger Peterson
St. Louis Landmarks Commission award
FLWHEP vice-chairman Bob Hall, chairman
Joanne Kohn and board member Roger Peterson
with the St. Louis Landmarks Commission award.

In June, the St. Louis Landmarks Commission acknowledged Joanne for
“spearheading” the project to purchase and restore the house,
awarding her the President’s Award.

AAA Midwest Traveler “has recognized the Frank Lloyd Wright House in
Ebsworth Park as an official Midwest Treasure.” Presented in November, the
award recognizes special places and events in the magazine’s circulation area.

National Philantrophy Day each Nov. 15th honors outstanding members
of the fund-raising community. Joanne received the 2002 “Outstanding
Fund Raising Volunteer” award. The awards “commemorate and
pay tribute to the spirit of philanthropy and volunteerism in the St. Louis
community, our nation and our world.”

Joanne Kohn

A Note From the Chairman

This issue of “Wright Focus” is devoted to the restoration of the Kraus House.

I want to pay tribute to John Eifler of Eifler & Associates of Chicago, a Wright
restoration architect; Jeff Markway of Norbert Markway Construction Co. St. Louis,
and all the craftsmen who contributed to the superb quality of the restoration
and thank them for their dedication and continued participation. Also, thanks to
Gene Mackey, board member and a principal of Mackey-Mitchell Associates
architectural firm and Gyo Obata, principal of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum Inc.,
architects who functioned as an advisory team, Peter Shank board member
and artist, and Doris Danna, architect and preservationist.

Without funding from the Gateway Foundation, we could not have begun the
restoration immediately after the purchase. We are all indebted to the
trustees of the foundation and their executive directors, Perry Bascom, and
now Christy Fox, for their foresight and generosity.

I want to highlight and thank two board members who were involved early
in the project: Peter Shank for his vision and dedication and Kay Kinsella for
her research and enthusiasm. I am also indebted to the volunteers who
without a budget for staff have assumed roles critical to running the organization.

The members of the Frank Lloyd House in Ebsworth Park are crucial to the
maintenance of the house and the completion of the restoration. Membership
is our strongest ongoing financial resource. We need you and are grateful
for your continued support. Please call to see the restored house and mention
that you are a member.

Thank you and have a happy holiday season!

Joanne Kohn, Chairman
The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park

Peter Shank
Peter Shank

My Kraus house journey began in the spring of 1974, while seeking images
for a book I co-authored, Places for People. My father, Isadore Shank
(a well-known early modernist archi-tect) told me that a Frank Lloyd Wright
house existed on Ballas Road. I contacted the owner, Russell Kraus, for
permission to photograph the house for my book; a book that was designed
to educate young people about architecture.

When Russell Kraus made it clear he intended to sell the house in 1993,
Judi Bettendorf and I came together to brainstorm how the house might be
purchased and turned into a public museum. With my background in art,
architecture and landscaping, this project was a natural for me.

With the example set by the Frank Lloyd Wright house, it has been my vision
and hope to witness a better appreciation and preservation of modern
architecture in St. Louis. Seeing demolition ranging from Louis Sullivan’s St. Nicholas
Hotel to the Coral Court Motel, as well as some of my father’s buildings, I have
become even more committed to saving additional examples of the region’s
modernist history.

In addition to my roles as an advocate of modern architec-ture, founding member
of the board the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Ebsworth Park, and publications
designer for the organization, I have been searching for new acquisitions for the
house's museum collection.

Kay Kinsella
Kay Kinsella

I first saw the Frank Lloyd Wright house when its owner, Russell Kraus,
invited us to tea.

Once inside I was back in geometry class beguiled by the ex-perience of
being surrounded by extraordinary inventiveness. Artful detail was everywhere.
The floor plan followed two crossing par-allelograms. The wooden tables
were centered with a triangle surrounded by parallelograms. The upholstery
was designated by the architect.

This house, though small in square footage, was immense in power.
Living in it would not suit everyone, but all who saw it would be struck by its
completeness, its perfection. We felt the quiet fullness of awe in the
presence of art. How could everyone enjoy it? The word bulldozer was
mentioned and the dream began. I volunteered to do research.

My first call for ideas and advice was to Philip Johnson, Wright’s adversarial admirer
in New York. He led us to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Lawyers
there and FLW experts sent us detailed optional ways to acquire the house most
favorable to owner and dreamers.

Further calls were made and letters sent to the FLW Building Conservancy in Chicago,
to Taliesin (Wright’s winter home and institute) in Arizona, to interested museum curators
and official FLW house appraisers as well as approved furniture and textile appraisers.
We contacted all the Wright houses open to the public for ideas and took a trip to Spring Green
in Wisconsin, Wright’s boyhood home, to hear the opera “Shining Brow” composed about his life.

Thomas Schmidt, a lawyer and then curator of Fallingwater near Pittsburgh, said he would be
on the next plane. He mirrored the enthusiasm of everyone with whom we spoke. Letters were
usually answered by return mail in the same encouraging spirit.

We began to feel part of a national surge for pres-ervation and convinced ourselves we’d be
success-ful. All because Russell Kraus, who became our mentor and generous friend, had
invited us to tea.

The Search for an Architect with the Wright Credentials

After an extensive search, John Eifler, Eifler and Associates of Chicago, was selected
by the Board of the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park to develop a master plan
for restoration of the Usonian style Kraus house.

Eifler met the key criteria: an architect with experience in Frank Lloyd Wright restorations
who could develop the plan for both the restoration of the house and the development
of the grounds.

The search included consultation with the Dana-Thomas House, a 1904 Wright-designed
Prairie style house in Springfield, Illinois, that has been restored by the state of Illinois.
The chief architect of the state shared his knowledge and experience about Wright restoration
and recommended soliciting the interest of three Chicago firms with extensive Wright
experience. Eifler was one of three architects from two firms interviewed.

His credentials include restoration of the Seth Peterson Cottage in Wisconsin and two Usonian
houses, the Rosenbaum (1939) in Florence, Alabama, and the Jacobs (1936) in Madison,
Wisconsin, considered by many to be the first Usonian house, as well as Wright’s living quarters
at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Eifler’s plan included documents describing and assessing the existing conditions at the time
of purchase (2001) and recommendations for restoration. With Chicago landscape architect
Ted Wolff, who also has experience with Wright properties, Eifler is completing a master plan
addressing site development that will provide for better access to the property and the
placement of a visitor and education center.

He also designed a masonry plan that was used to guide the repair of 40% of the brick which
was extensively water-damaged. With his associate, Sari Lehtinen, Eifler selected the mortar
color and designed a cover for a drain in the carport.

Eifler coordinated the restoration work with St. Louis contractor Jeff Markway. According to
Markway, Eifler brought a high level of authenticity to the work, and the project profited
greatly from his knowledge of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Dave Bergmann
Masonry contractor Dave Bergmann on the terrace.

The Restoration
What Had to be Done?

When purchased by the FLWHEP non-profit organization, the Ruth and Russell Kraus
house was fundamentally intact and true to Wright but greatly in need of restoration.
The restoration was overseen by architect John Eifler.

The condition of the brick exposed to the elements was deplorable. Water had
seeped into 40% of the brick, which led to its total deterioration. For example, the
lanai and terrace brick had to be replaced completely. Where overhangs protected
the brick, it was intact. Following Eifler’s detailed plan, intended to prevent future
deterioration of the brick, the damaged brick both outside and inside was repaired.

An inside wall was warped and cracked from the weight of the roof leaning on it.
It was torn down, reinforced with steel according to McGinnis & Associates Engineering
firm. Old brick was used for inside of the wall and new brick replaced outside.
John Eifler found new brick that is an excellent match from a foundry in Sioux City, Iowa.
Cracked glass and the murky glass in the terrace and lanai doors were replaced with
clear glass that would deflect ultraviolet rays. Unfortunately, the doors on the terrace had
to be replaced due to rotted wood; the original hardware was saved when possible. The
cracked glass on the light table used by Mr. Kraus was also replaced.

All the tidewater red cypress, the predominant wood inside and outside, was skillfully
restored by the painters, Koch Brothers Decorating, Inc. selected for their acknowledged
excellence. The wood outside had a curdling layer of varnish that was removed by
sanding and power washing before the wood was painted with a preservative. Carpenter
bee holes had to be repaired and are an ongoing problem. Inside stains from water and
fireplace smoke had to be treated. All wood surfaces were painstakingly restored.

Mechanical operations of the house also had to be addressed. The original electrical lamps
on the terrace walls were beyond repair. The fixtures and chrome covers, originally designed
for use indoors, were dangling. All the wiring was replaced on the terrace and new anodized
aluminum fixtures, made for outdoor use, were installed. Electric power for the house was
increased from 100 amps to 400 amps, fuses were replaced by circuit breakers which were
placed in the tool house. In mid-summer 2002, the original over 35-year-old air conditioner
was replaced.

While the furniture and fabrics were generally in good condition, they showed signs of wear
and tear and had to be restored.

Keith and Kevin HagemannKevin Hagemann
Markway workmen, Keith and
Kevin Hagemann, rebuilding
the terrace wall.

Jeff Markway is Restoration Contractor

Jeff Markway of Norbert Markway Construction Co. was se-lected as contractor for the
Kraus house restoration process. His firm is known for its remodeling of fine St. Louis homes.

In 1999, he helped estimate restoration costs which aided in formalizing the grant to the
Gateway Foundation. The foundation pledged $377,400 for the restoration.

While much of the house restoration has been completed, there is still work to be done.
Markway continues to be involved, dealing with, and finding solutions to problems in the house.
The restoration work brought numerous surprises, as Markway explains, such as finding that the
retaining wall off the carport was too short and cracked. He also found that there was no
drainage around the carport wall, thus causing it to buckle with the force of wet earth pushing
in on it. The entire wall had to be torn down and rebuilt with four feet of drainage surrounding
the wall.

Markway’s selection of skilled craftsmen with extremely high standards accounts for the level
of excellence attributed to the restoration. One of the key craftsman was masonry contractor
Dave Bergmann. A third generation mason, Bergmann feels that working on the Kraus house has
been the highlight of his career. He enjoyed his collaboration with Markway and Eifler in executing
the masonry repair plan that was conceived by Eifler.

The guiding theme of the restoration was replicating the original. However, Eifler, Markway and
Bergmann chose to help stabilize the brick walls and prevent the recurrence of water-damaged
brick by making the joints flush on all the new row locks (the top row of bricks on each wall), instead
of indenting or raking them as Wright had intended. The raked joints are still seen on the brick that
was protected by the overhangs, such as the terrace wall off the studio under the cantilevered roof.

Bill Stack, Koch Brothers Decorating Co., along with Eifler and Markway determined the methods
and materials to restore the tidewater red cypress wood both outside and inside.

The proficiency of Jeff Markway in hiring and supervising superior craftsmen, coordinating with Eifler
in Chicago and our St. Louis area board of directors, was greatly appreciated.

Ken Phillips
Ken Phillips, mason, shaping the brick.

Mortar Knowledge
Restoration Glossary/Dictionary

Spalling – the popping off of face of the brick.
Caused by water getting behind brick.
Row Lock – the top row of brick on a brick wall.
Flashing – corrugated copper placed under brick - particularly under the row lock.
Used to help prevent water seeping through brick stack.
Mortar net – plastic webbing placed between retaining wall and brick that water
runs through to exit stack of brick.
Weep Hole – space left open at bottom of brick for water to exit.
Raked Joint – mortar indented or raked out by a tool or rake to emphasize the horizontal line.

Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park
Interior living room wall being
removed and replaced

Refinish or Restore

John Eifler, project architect, stressed the need to retain the original,
whether the structure, furniture or fabrics. To be true to the tenets
of good restoration, the board consulted not only Eifler, but also Cara
McCarty, the curator of Decorative Arts at the St. Louis Art Museum,
who recommended John Barfield, a free-lance furniture conservator,
who does important restoration work for the museum.

Barfield brought the most honored methods of working in furniture
restoration. The Wright-designed furnishings were not refinished,
a process that would have removed the finish. Instead Barfield, and
the Koch Brothers painters, painstakingly removed stains that
appeared to be permanent by using chemicals, instead of sanding.
General signs of wear and scratches left by Mr. Kraus’ beloved cat
Angel were left on the furniture after the cleaning process, in order
not to remove layers of wood.

In the kitchen the joints in the wood of the maple kitchen counters
were cleaned and tightened with clamps to eliminate open spaces.
Zoe Perkins, curator for textiles at the St. Louis Art Museum, was
engaged to evaluate and preserve all the original fabrics on the
furniture, the bed covers and drapes. All the fabric was vacuumed.
She also water-tested fabric scraps for shrinkage or disintegration.
The master bed spread was successfully washed and blocked to size
resulting in a major difference in its appearance.

The drapes were removed, vacuumed, shortened and the deteriorated
lining replaced by John Thake of Zollinger Furniture Company, who
also repaired the drapery tracks.

Using specialists guaranteed museum quality and workmanship.

The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park
Masons repair wall outside toolhouse.
The toolhouse will soon be restored.

The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park
Zoe Perkins, textile curator, working on
fabrics in the master bedroom.

What’s Next?

• Cleaning/restoring floor surfaces inside and out, including the cement
carport surface where treatment options are being investigated.
• Touching up wood surfaces that have not been restored or where
carpenter bees have done damage.
• Restoring the tool house in the carport. It will be cleaned and painted
and wood surfaces eaten by squirrels repaired; a heater, air conditioner,
sink and counters installed, and the old existing water heater placed in
the basement area. Work will be done to make the tool house usable.
• Finishing brick work.
• Improving plumbing.
• Landscaping following the dictates of the original Wright design.
• Cleaning up recessed basement areas.
• Purchasing rugs for the hallway and utility room.
• Building a circular road.
• Making a gate designed by FLW.
And ultimately,
• Building a visitor center to house a gift shop, a video screening area,
educational and display facilities.

John Barfield Bryan Sater
John Barfield, conservator, and Bryan Sater,
painter, restoring the furniture.

The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park
Docent Pat Soraghan’s Kirkwood High
Modern U.S. History class.

Tourists Flock to FLWHEP

Since the purchase of the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park (FLWHEP)
on January 18, 2001, nearly 6,500 people have toured the house.

Over 4,500 Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts, architects, students, FLWHEP members
and just interested individuals and groups have been a part of over 200 tours
in the six months since the house has been officially open to the public. (A limited
number of free tours were provided, particularly for members, during restoration.)
Twenty-one docents have provided tours to individuals and a variety of groups
including school, garden club, church, retirement home, realtor, and other arts
organizations, including the St. Louis Art Museum Decorative Arts Society and
Information Desk Volunteers.

While most of those touring the house are from the St. Louis metropolitan area,
people have come from nearly 30 states, as far as California and New York, as
well as foreign countries, including Germany, Holland, and Poland.

The house is open for tours by RESERVATION only. Admission is $5 per person;
members are free. (At $75 membership level and above members may bring
one guest).

For the winter, tours are limited to 10 persons. During winter months parking will
be limited to the driveway as the grounds may be too wet. Tours will be canceled
because of snow or ice. Reservations may be made by calling 822-8359 (8FLW),
leaving name, phone number, number of people and any special requests.
Calls will be returned as soon as possible.

We can provide these tours because of our dedicated group of volunteer docents.

Thank you to docents:

Ann & Hank Bauer, Isabel Brandt, Sharon Croissant, Betsy and Peter Enslin,
Agnes Garino, Karen Halla, Laurie Hellman, Mary Huelsmann, Joanne Kohn,
Dennis Kohler, Brian Mills, Carolyn Noll, Diane Peterson, Sally Pinckard,
Janet Schoedinger, Barbara Scott, Pat Soraghan, Liz Studt, Brian Welch.

Special thank you to our volunteers:

Isabel Brandt and Sharon Croissant, for organizing the docent training,
with the assistance of Joanne Kohn, Mary Huelsmann and Esley Hamilton;
Liz Studt, for tak-ing phone messages and scheduling tours and docents;
Carolyn Noll, for her assistance in scheduling tours; Betsy Enslin, for
scheduling member tours in September, Janet Schoedinger, for serving as
membership chairman.

In addition, thanks to:

Brian Mills, for organizing our booth at the Kirkwood Greentree Festival in
September and the Greentree booth volunteers: Michael Ashworth, Patricia
Benefield, Jack Carpenter, Peter and Betsy Enslin, Phyllis Evans, Joan Esserman,
Ruth and Bob Hall, Bill Heyde, Barbara Schmeding, Mary MacChesney, Brian
and Karen Mills, Tibor and Jan Nagy, Carolyn Noll, Barbara Scott, Liz Studt,
and Robert and Karen Walsh for giving their time to promote the house.

Webster Groves Garden Club, led by Diane Neely, for assistance in weeding
on the property.

St. Louis County Parks – Kent Theiling and his crew, for
planting the patio/courtyard garden.

The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park

Docent Brian Mills manning the FLWHEP booth at the Kirkwood Greentree Festival in September.