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Leon Anderson

Joanne 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 Wright legacy.

The award in the public domain category was presented to FLWHEP Chairman Joanne Kohn at the organization’s annual conference in Los Angeles on October 22.

The Spirit Award honors those who have made significant achievements in the preservation of Wright’s 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 America’s most significant architecture,” said Mr. Scherubel.


Leon Anderson

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 of 2006.

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 and writer.

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

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.

Agnes Garino

Although I’ve 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 I’d 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 couldn’t imagine it wouldn’t be saved.

It was a couple years later that I learned of Joanne’s 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.

I’m 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. It’s 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 Kraus House
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 a guest


The FLWHEP T-shirt by Peter Shank is available in The Shop. For information about all FLW products call 822-8359.


FLW 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 blocks.

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 legacy.

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 house".

The whole meeting was incredible, and I encourage you all to attend the next conference which will be held in September 2006 in Michigan.


Traveling Wright
by Agnes Garino

This past summer included a trip to Orlando for a symposium. With FLW’s only large complex of buildings less than 50 miles away, I couldn’t 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 Wright’s 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 Wright’s involvement. The plaque states that “Wright insisted that the college’s individual buildings reflect their environment through the use of ‘Native materials all universally adapted to the uses of young life.’”

The 80-acre complex sits in a neighborhood of historic buildings near downtown Lakeland. Wright designed 18 buildings for the college’s west campus; 12 were built. The buildings, all with off-white cast concrete exteriors and many trimmed with copper fascia, were designed between 1938-1958.

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 college’s 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 President’s office. Complete with samples of Wright-designed furnishings, chairs, benches, tables, and glass screens, visitors can experience here some of Wright’s 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 Wright’s 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 FLW’s 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


FLWHEP’s 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, FLW’s 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 purchase.

We are looking forward to the next FLW trip scheduled for April 2007, in the New York City area.


FLWHEP 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.