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FLWHEPs First Holiday Greeting Card
The Frank Lloyd House in Ebsworth Park is excited to offer its first holiday greeting card. The 5" X 7" card is a water color by artist Peter Shank and presents a beautiful scene in pinks, blues, browns, and purple of Winter in Ebsworth Park. The message inside is Seasons Greetings. Peter is an artist, member of the FLWHEP board, and the Houses Art Curator. All sales of the cards benefit the House.
Cards in packages of 10 for $12.50 will be sold at THE SHOP at the House. Cards may be ordered by calling 314-822-8359 (8FLW) or visiting the online Gift Shop. To order by phone, leave your name and phone number and your call will be returned. Postage and handling costs will be added.
Tour to New York Area
Members and friends of the FLWHEP will have a unique opportunity, April 12-15, 2007, to visit Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings in the New York and New Jersey area that are rarely open to the public. There are a limited number of spaces still available. Please contact Joanne Kohn at 314-991-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Included in the tour will be at least six privately owned Wright homes. The group will visit Usonia, a village of nearly 50 homes in Pleasantville, New York. Usonia, developed in the late 1940s, includes three homes designed by Wright plus a number by his associates.
We will be welcomed to the native granite stone and cypress wood Reisley House with its 1956 Wright-designed addition by its owner Ronald Reisley, who still lives in the home. Also on the tour, the predominately brick with cypress, 2,000-square-foot, 1951 Usonian Stuart Richardson House in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. This house of many angles has many similarities to the Kraus House.
We will also visit the famous Noguchi Museum on Long Island, the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, and Storm King Art Center in the Hudson Valley.
For more information and photos of some of the houses on the tour consult: Usonia, New York, Building A Community with Frank Lloyd Wright, by Ronald Reisley, Frank Lloyd Wrights Usonian Houses, by John Sergeant, and Frank Lloyd Wrights Usonian Houses, by Carla Lind, which is available in THE SHOP. This tour, like our tour to Madison, Wisconsin, in 2005, will be arranged by Karen Bergenthal of East Town Travel in Milwaukee, who specializes in art and architectural tours.
A Note From the Chairman
At the FLW Conservancy meeting in Detroit in September, there was a report about attendance being down at museums and specifically at Frank Lloyd Wright museums such as Fallingwater. Fortunately, we have not experienced a drop-off in attendance at the Kraus House. In fact, our docent coordinators, Carolyn Noll and Sue Geile, and all the docents are constantly in demand. Now that schools are back in session, several groups of students have visited the House. We are very lucky to have such a dedicated group of docents and the leadership of Carolyn and Sue.
We continue to try to find the right way to expand and improve the road and develop parking. Thanks to Mike Flad, the Countys landscape designer, we now have the plan but we are in the bidding phase and trying to reconcile costs to our budget. We are also going to try to improve the bridge. This project continues to be a challenge, but we hope to start this fall, weather permitting. Jeff Markway, who did such a masterful job on the restoration of the House, will coordinate the project.
Our next trip will be in April to the New York area to visit Wright buildings. There has been a lot of interest in this trip. so do let us know if you are interested in joining us.
Please remember to renew your membership. An envelope was included with your Wright Focus newsletter. We could not survive without annual gifts and thank all of you who continue to support the House. There are constant challenges to expand and improve. We are examining those opportunities as board member Kay Dusenbery leads us in strategic planning. You will hear more!
Joanne Kohn, Chairman
The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park
Joanne Kohn called me several years ago and asked if I would like to see the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park. She had heard through mutual friends that I was a fan of Wright and that I was interested in seeing what was happening with this local treasure.
I had visited several Wright Sites in California, as well as homes designed by Wright disciples Schindler, Neutra, Lautner, and St. Louisian William Bernoudy. I had toured homes that were restored after falling on very hard times, and homes that may never be returned to their former perfection.
The more Wright homes and buildings I see, the more convinced I am that Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most influential architects of the 20h century. Certainly, his style has been imitated more than any other architect of his time. He is responsible for inspiring much of the mid-century architecture that is once again in favor with the American public.
Wright believed that anyone could live in a well-designed home. His Usonian houses were designed for those who wanted good architecture in a manageable and affordable scale. The Kraus House in Ebsworth Park is a perfect example of this philosophy.
The first time I entered the Kraus House, I was deeply moved. The sweeping lines of the roof and the exterior walls give the house a dramatic ship-like presence. It sails across the brow of the hill. Because the house is so perfectly married to its site, the surrounding landscape visible from every window and terrace, it feels much more spacious than the actual square footage.
We are fortunate to have this perfect example of Wrights genius here in St. Louis, and we have the Krauses to thank for their vision and perseverance. They commissioned a home in a style that had never been seen or constructed in the St. Louis area.
This years FLWHEP Benefit to celebrate Mr. Wrights birthday was held June 4 at the Kraus House. The weather was the best we have ever had. The party was enjoyed by more than 100 guests.
The featured speaker was Tim Quigley, past president of the FLW Building Conservancy, whose presentation focused on the Conservancys experience in saving FLW buildings. Quigley, an architect, preservationist, and scholar had previously visited St. Louis and the FLWHEP with the Conservancy board in May. He was introduced by Christy Gray, executive director of the Whitaker Foundation, a major and longtime supporter of the FLWHEP.
Russell Kraus was an honored guest again this year. Some of his paintings, loaned by him, were displayed in the House. Portraits of himself and his wife Ruth, which had been painted by Russell, were given to the House by Garden View Care Centers and are now on display in the house. Music was supplied by jazz pianist Carolbeth True and her trio, including clarinetist Mike Buerk. Guests also enjoyed tours of the House and delicious refreshments including birthday cake.
This benefit was one of our most successful financially, netting more than $20,000 which will be used for the driveway/parking project. We are indebted to the Patrons who supported the benefit and helped make it so successful and to Joan Markow, chairman of the Patrons.
Joan and Mitchell Markow also hosted a reception for the Patrons to meet Karen Severns and Koichi Mori, makers of the film Magnificent Obsession: Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings and Legacy in Japan when it was shown at the Saint Louis Art Museum on April first. The benefit was chaired by FLWHEP board members Laura Meyer and Fransiska Brigham.
||(Left) Man Lost in a Flower,|
A Love Message to Ruth
1943, signed by Russell Kraus
An entry in the City
of St. Louis Art Museum
1st Annual Missouri Exhibition
1941, signed by Russell Kraus
Russell Kraus Paintings
These Russell Kraus paintings are on long-term loan from Rick and Sheryl Bayers to the FLWHEP. The Noguchi lamp illuminating Fertility was purchased with assistance of funds donated to the Art Acquisition Fund.
We sincerely appreciate the generosity of the Bayers in helping us provide more examples of Russells incredible variety of work for our members and
visitors to enjoy.
Art, Craft and Industry in Detroit
With the help of accomplished Wright scholars and speakers and extended tours in and around Detroit, the 2006 annual conference of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy was a tremendous success.
Wright designed more than 70 buildings for Michigan with 30 of them built. He had a relationship with Eliel Saarinen, who taught at Cranbrook and championed the arts and crafts movement in the Detroit area. Wright also benefited from the inventions of industry developed in Detroit.
With each conference, it becomes increasingly apparent how important the Conservancy is to the survival of Wright buildings. At the 2005 conference in Los Angeles the textile block houses such as the Ennis House were seen in great disrepair due to earthquakes, mud slides and neglect. Thanks to the Conservancy, the board of the Ennis House has been reconstructed and that house is being saved.
In Michigan, one sees many endangered Usonian houses. Most of the original owners are gone or need to move out of their houses for lifestyle or health reasons.
We were privileged to see the Palmer House in Ann Arbor where Mary Palmer, the ailing and most gracious original owner, still lives. The house, like the Kraus House, has beds the shape of the geometric form that dominates the house ... in this case, an equilateral triangle.
The Affleck House and the Goetsch-Winckler Houses are in need of repair but are made available to the public through the universities who now own them. The Smith House was left by the deceased owners with all the original art and furniture so that visitors can see it intact. Don Schaberg is looking for a new owner for his Wright house since the death of his wife; it is in beautiful condition.
Fortunately, there are some entrepreneurs who have bought Wright houses and are totally rehabbing them. Examples of those are the Brauner House in Okemos and the Turkel House, the only FLW house designed in Detroit proper.
A lecture about Albert Kahn, Builder of Detroit, was enlightening. Kahn designed for Edsel, Henry Fords only son, a Cottswold house and for Henry, factories, to manufacture cars. Wright benefited from his invention of the Kahn system of reinforced concrete which was essential to the construction of Wrights Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.
The 2007 Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy conference will be held in the northern suburbs of Chicago October 10-14. There will be much to see and learn. Put it on your calendar.
Alden B. Dow: Wrights Apprentice and Proponent of Organic Architecture
Michael Hawker *
Frank Lloyd Wrights legacy includes the Taliesin Fellowship that trained numerous apprentices who absorbed his principles and built their own legacies worldwide. Among them were Fay Jones, John Lautner, and Nari Gandhi. The first to start a practice was Alden Dow (1904-83), after spending his 1933 summer with Wright in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Both shared a love for the arts, nature, and travel. Son of Dow Chemicals founder, Alden attended Taliesin matured, degreed, world traveled (seeing Japans Imperial Hotel), married, and experienced with commissions.
Dow learned from Wright about applying unit modules, the continuity of structure and form, the importance of discovery and the celebration of site. He united these principles of organic architecture with values he learned from his parents; namely, an innovative spirit, love for beauty, a quest for quality ideas and the value of creativity. Wright set the Organic direction, but Dow recognized its vast implications and applications always left room for individualism and creative growth.
Both men shared the major tenets of Organic Architecture; the first being its basis on ideas found in nature, not by copying prescriptive styles. Examining the nature of something reveals ideas at work, such as crystals (a rocks structure) or Fibonaccis sequence (a nautilus geometry). Organic is not about making our houses look like rocks or snails. Organic Architecture develops from within outward in harmony with the conditions of its being, and is appropriate to its time, its place and to man.
Integrity guides all Organic principles and is achieved through consistency in grammar called unity. Wright said, part is to the whole as whole is to the part. For example, from roots up through to its flowers, all trees systems are correlated with respect to size-proportion, purpose-shape, color-texture. Wright called unifying structure with form continuity. Consider again a tree, each element shaped out of its own purpose. Now consider a cast concrete spiral ramp, such as Wrights Guggenheim its structure-purpose-form inseparable. Therefore, beauty whether poetic or simple is a quality that comes from within and connects to our emotional spirit needs. This inspired Dow.
Organic Architecture breaks the box creating sheltering spaces within that are free and open to the outdoors. Organic responds to the particulars of the site. A zig-zagging terrace around a specific tree celebrates that tree, doesnt tear it down. The horizontality of a cantilever responds to gravity and gives a building repose on the landscape. See Fallingwater or our own Kraus House.
Dows Organic contributions were equally genuine. The Home & Studio (Midland, Michigan) is his most striking composition, where gardens never end and buildings never begin and where cohesive tranquility is found between space, material, arts-crafts (even games), color, and nature. Described by Architectural Digest as one of the two most beautiful residences in America, the other Wrights Fallingwater, was built between 1934-39 in white unit blocks of Dows invention, it became his setting for playful learning and exploring compositions. It peacefully rises from a pond and luxuriant garden like a crystalline outcrop.
Equally important was Dows Way of Life Cycle philosophy. Dow was always interested in analyzing thoughts, sharing ideas, and understanding individual motivations. He also claimed, we were put here on this earth at this time, to be of benefit to each other, and he was committed to improve the quality of life in his own community (100+ buildings in Midland alone). Among his accolades: the Diplome de Grand Prix, Michigan Society of Architects Gold Medal, and Michigan Architect Laureate. His firm continues today as Dow Howell Gilmore Associates Inc.
The Alden B. Dow Home & Studio is open to tours; call toll-free 866-315-7678 or visit www.abdow.org. Also, look for a new book in 2007 on Dow (title undisclosed).
* Michael Hawker, a former Taliesin apprentice and Kraus House docent, spent a day at the Detroit FLW Building Conservancy Conference visiting Alden Dow architecture.
Values? SWOT Analysis? External Stakeholders?
These terms have become quite familiar to members of the FLWHEP Strategic Planning Committee. In August 2006 FLWHEP embarked upon its first strategic planning process with committee membership open to all board members. The goal is to have a plan completed by spring 2007.
To date the Committee has reviewed mission and vision statements, thought about the primary values the organization stands for, and identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). As part of its information-gathering activities, the group now plans to interview several external stakeholders, or people external to the organization who have been involved in some capacity and whose perspectives are valued. Then the hard work of crafting goals and objectives for the next three years will begin. The process is facilitated by FLWHEP board member Kay Dusenbery.
We are fortunate to have Kay Dusenbery on our board. She has years of experience with strategic planning through her work at the Danforth Foundation and in private consulting and can help us develop what is needed to become an even stronger cultural institution, stated Chairman Joanne Kohn.
Gift to Fund Helps Purchase Lamp
A recent purchase of a Noguchi lamp for the House was made possible in part by a gift to the Art Acquisition Fund from Agnes and Dave Garino. A gift from Leon and Gloria Anderson kicked off the Fund.
The acquisition fund is for the purchase of pieces of art, accessories and books to fill the empty shelves and add to the enjoyment of visitors to the house.
If you would like to donate to the fund, send your check payable to the FLWHEP. Contributions, tax-deductible, to this special fund will be specifically recognized in upcoming newsletters along with the items purchased.
For more information contact: 314-822-8359 (8FLW) or send your contribution to FLWHEP, c/o 40 Upper Ladue Rd., St. Louis, MO 63124. Please indicate Art Acquisition Fund.
Making the Kraus House available to the community, including young people, was one of the goals of the FLWHEP organization when the house was purchased in 2001. We are pleased that each year even more students visit. Our all-volunteer group of docents will lead more than 40 school tours in 2006.
Since last Spring more than 15 schools, from elementary school to college, have toured the House, coming from as far at Rolla, Missouri and Waterloo, Illinois. Classes include architecture, design, drafting, gifted programs, and math.
Each year for the past three years about 100 geometry students from Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves have toured the House. According to teacher Charlotte Simcox, the House is a perfect fit for a geometry class.
Students not only visit the House, but many also do further research on Wright, including visiting Wright websites and writing papers on their field trip to the House. They study many of the geometric elements found in the Houses structure, furniture and furnishings: parallelograms, hexagons, trapezoids and triangles. As Ms. Simcox asserts: The House screams ‘Geometry.
What do her students think about the House and their visit? The following is a sampling of comments that were included in their reports about the House.
As soon as you walk in you can tell the house is something special. She [the docent] explained the ‘compression and release form of architecture the hall had a low ceiling and was dark but when you walked into the main room, there were large windows that let light in and it was very spacious. Jessyka Fry
I really enjoyed Frank Lloyd Wrights concept of opening a house up to its natural environment. ... Wright had many ways of creating this illusion of this ‘oneness with ones surroundings, and it all added to the peaceful ambiance of the house. Maddie Jonagan
I thought that the Frank Lloyd Wright House was extremely interesting. It was fascinating to see how he had taken a very basic shape and used it as the basis for the design of an entire house. I thought that the repetition of the parallelogram made the whole house seem connected and made it seem cozier. Jill Patton
All tours, including school group tours, can be arranged by calling: 314-822-8359 (8FLW). One of our tour coordinators, Carolyn Noll or Sue Geile, will return your call.
Traveling Wright The Lowell and Agnes Walter House
Carolyn M. Noll
In September my husband, Burton, and I visited the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Lowell and Agnes Walter Home in Cedar Rock Park, Quasqueton, Iowa. It is situated on a limestone bluff (Cedar Rock) north of Cedar Rapids at a bend in the Wapsipincon River in Buchanan County. Besides the house on the bluff there is a boathouse with a screened porch on the river bank and an outdoor fire pit up the hill behind the house called The Council Fire.
The plans for the house were completed in 1945, but construction could not begin until 1948 due to wartime building restrictions. Wright called the house his Opus 497 indicating the approximate number of works he had produced up until then. The Walters moved into the house in 1950 but only spent summers there, wintering in Des Moines.
The three-bedroom house is built out of reinforced Cherokee Red-tinted concrete including the roof, which has broad overhangs and upturned eaves. There are square openings in the eaves, creating a trellis where vines grow through, shading the room. The house is considered a polliwog (or tadpole) design with the bedroom wing being the tail and the main living spaces the head. The grid system that Wright used is a 5-foot, 3-inch square.
The 900-square-foot living room (the Garden Room) has an unpaved planter area with healthy growing plants in the center. This room is open with walls of glass doors that look out toward the river. Even the bedrooms have glass doors that open to the beautiful grounds.
Clerestory windows throughout the house make it very light. Besides the concrete, the other materials used in the house are glass, brick and walnut. While the house has many typical Usonian features like piano hinges on the doors, it also has some that are unique. The radiant heating system is zoned and instead of a continuously poured concrete floor, each section can be reached by removing one 175-pound slab of concrete which is half of the square grid pattern. These are laid side by side and sometimes give a little as you walk on them.
The three bathrooms are very compact. Wright used a railroad Pullman-type system where the sink slides back and forth over the toilet or bathtub. He did not use this system in any of his other homes.
The typical carport and tool house exist, but the tool house consists of two separate areas with its own doors. One is a storage area and the other is a small apartment that the Walters used as a guest house. The docent also told us that Mr. Wright had stayed in it.
There is both a front and a back door situated side by side but separated by a shoulder-high brick wall. The home boasts one of Wrights signature Cherokee red tiles embedded in the wall by the front entrance. Wright designed and chose almost everything in the house even down to the kitchen pots and pans and two sets of dishes, one for everyday use and one for entertaining. These items are still in the house and on display. Some of the Walters clothing still hangs in the closets and sits on the shelves.
A detail that I noticed that varies from most Usonian homes is in the wooden sunken or reverse board and batten pattern on the walls. Usually both are upright in the same plane but here the batten is tilted out at an angle adding one more horizontal shadow. The gate that Wright designed still stands but the entrance has been changed with the addition of the visitor center.
In 1981, when Mr. Walter died, the house was given to the people of Iowa and is now managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. For more information: e-mail email@example.com, visit www.iowadnr.com or phone 319-934-3572.
The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park
House Address: 120 North Ballas Road Kirkwood, Missouri 63122
Mailing Address: 40 Upper Ladue Road St. Louis, Missouri 63124