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January 2005
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March 2005



A Dade County non-profit called Save-a-House recently preserved this 1917 Edgewater neighborhood bungalow from the wrecker's ball. Condo developers were set to tear it down to make room for a new project, but the organization, run by ex-city councilperson Carol Cord, was able to convince the developer to donate the house, at which point Save-a-House was able to raise funds to have the house moved to a nearby empty lot donated by Miami-Dade County. The plan is for the house to be renovated and offered for sale to a low-income family. Certainly it's wonderful to save older homes of redeeming architectural character, but this seems to skirt the issue: in some situations, I'm sure it is necessary, but should Miami-Dade County be allowing 188-unit condominiums in a neighborhood full of older single-family homes?

''We hope this will start a trend of developers saving houses instead of tearing them down,'' says Matthew Pellar, vice president of development for H&H, which is building a 188-unit condo, Mondrian, on the property.

Frank Lloyd Wright on the Auction Block


I guess it's Frank Lloyd Wright week here at Hewn & Hammered. It seems it's getting more and more difficult to sell the iconographic works of one of America's most creative modern architects:

After several months on the market, a 1915 Frank Lloyd Wright house on Chicago's North Side is going on the auction block, with bids starting at $750,000 — less than a third of the original $2.5 million asking price.

Bids for the Emil Bach house on Chicago's North Side will probably end far below that $2.5 million figure. Ronald Scherubel, executive director of the Wright Building Conservancy, notes that this is partly because the structures themselves are so original and were constructed, for the most part, with a single client in mind; prospective buyers of historic Wright properties are scared off by the fact that they wouldn't be able to make the slightest structural change - or even paint such a house - without government approval. photo: Associated Press

Frank Lloyd Wright's Westcott House

Westcott21FLW designed, completely redesigned at least once, and oversaw the building of Springfield's Westcott House from 1904 to 1908. Wright himself saw Westcott as a particularly representative structure and a good example of his own style and skill; he included it in the two-volume Wasmuth Portfolios, or Studies and Executed Buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright, the treatise that secured Wright's tremendous reputation in Europe and Japan. The Westcott itself has, unfortunately, remained an unknown (or lesser-known) gem of Wright's career. While it does not feature the iconographic pre-Columbian motifs of his southern California work, it is still a striking and original structure, and is not as well-known as it should be. It was recently restored, and has been open for tours since mid-2003.

+ Westcott House: 1340 East High Street, Springfield OH 45503

The Battle for Taliesin

Directionsbern1650Fred Bernstein has written an excellent short article - more of a timeline, really - on a recent on-line battle for a set of tremendously important photographs of Taliesin, taken just before the original structure burned down in 1914. And unlike that story, this one ends happily, albeit quite expensively.

On Jan. 24, a Monday night, Jack Holzhueter learned that 32 photographs of Taliesin - Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio in Spring Green, Wis. - were for sale on eBay. Mr. Holzhueter, on the board of curators of the Wisconsin Historical Society, looked at the Web site and realized that the photos were exceedingly rare. "They're a Rosetta stone for the building," he said: they were taken in 1911 and 1912; Taliesin burned in 1914 and was rebuilt in somewhat different form. Mr. Holzhueter, a retired writer and, he says, "full-time patsy," told his colleagues, "We've got to do something about this." The auction would end at 9:17, Central time, on Friday night, Jan. 28.

Newcomb Pottery at the Louisiana State Museum


Some of the Louisiana State Museum's excellent collection of Newcomb and Newcomb-era American A&C pottery is on display in their extensive online exhibit, Newcomb Pottery and the Arts & Crafts Movement in Louisiana. Tracing the movement throughout its appearance in architecture, art and craft throughout the United States, the exhibit eventually focuses specifically on Arts & Crafts in Louisiana and specifically the history of the Tulane University Decorative Art League, New Orleans art pottery in general, and the eventual establishment of Newcomb Pottery. The last portions of the exhibit are dedicated to other craft disciplines that would not have been possible without the seeds planted by Newcomb, such as Louisiana's Arts and Crafts metalwork, embroidery and bookbinding traditions.

Alice Roth-Suszynski, cabinetmaker


"Aunt Alice" has been working as a cabinetmaker for over 25 years, and has spent the last 10 years focusing on furniture design and manufacture. Her focus has been specifically on the Prairie aesthetic, but her interpretation of those straight, wide lines is certainly original and modern; she's integrated Asian design elements and techniques into her work as well, and the end result is recognizeably orthodox Prairie and, at the same time, very contemporary. She lives and works in San Diego county, and sells her furniture through her web site and is available for hire for other projects, such as the built-ins she has concentrated on for much of her career.

This is the neat toy of the moment - Home Portfolio allows you to look up thousands of kitchen and bath fixtures, flooring and an almost ridiculous amount of other stuff (there are literally 200 range hoods alone, and don't even get me started on the sinks and furniture) ... Their database contains the current manufacturer's price, availability and the names & locations of dealers close to your zipcode, and there are plenty of items that would like quite at home in a Mission, Craftsman or Prairie home.

the Bungalow Company

BungalowcompanyThe Bungalow Company creates new building plans - they're not just a reseller of classic but not necessarily practical plans - based on the great works of the American Arts & Crafts movement. Thus, their plans specifically take into account modern building materials and techniques, the less-compartmentalized style favored today, and other features that were not possible or useful at the beginning of the 20th century. Their new-home building faq is also quite useful, as is their list of online resources (although why we aren't listed is beyond me). There are also several nice images of new-built Craftsman homes in their portfolio section.

Edwin Lutyens


A greatly admired craftsman whose masterworks contrasted - at least in the public imagination of the time - with his somewhat unorthodox public persona and his terrific sense of humor, Edwin Lutyens was an architect, furniture designer, populist and great joke-teller. Often said to be the single person most responsible for the planning and construction of New Delhi's entire city center (and the master plan that was followed in that city well into the 1970s), Lutyens is perhaps best known today for the Viceroy's House, a particularly impressive landmark which is now the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India. Lutyens is also responsible for St. Jude's, one of the prettiest churches in the UK . Dozens of his finest structures still stand today in London and elsewhere. His influence to the Arts & Crafts movement is, unfortunately, often under-reported. His skill at integrating monumental scale and classical motif with the simple and straightforward, and his tremendous respect for the craftspeople who worked under him and a very strong belief in the importance of craft and handwork frequently made its way into the details of his buildings. Candia Lutyens continues the family business with her design firm in London today; she specializes in building many items of furniture designed by her grandfather, work that was shadowed by his more well-known skill as architect.

7 Hammersmith Terrace

Home of "typographer and antiquary" Sir Emery Walker from 1903-1933, 7 Hammersmith Terrace will be, for the first (and possibly last) time, open to the public - but only from April to July 2005. #7 is one in a row of seventeen tall, narrow homes built between 1755 and 1800 near Chiswick Mall in Hammersmith, London. The house has been preserved, replete with much of the contents of Walker's personal collections, which included textiles by William Morris (some of which came from Morris' own Kelmscott House, not far away), furniture - much of it from the collection of the great Philip Webb, a close friend of Walker's and William Morris' and considered one of the founders of the English Arts & Crafts Movement, and many well-preserved examples of textiles, ceramic, metal & woodwork made in the Arts & Crafts tradition. If you are in or near London, please try to visit one of the underrated gems of the movement, and consider donating a sum to help the preservation and conservation of the home and Walker's collections.

Palace of Fine Arts


Bernard Maybeck, the great architect and designer who defined - along with Julia Morgan and a few others - the Craftsman ethos in Bay Area architecture, is responsible for this flight of fancy. Originally built for the 1915 Pacific International Exposition, it has graced San Francisco's Marina District ever since. One of the best examples of the beaux-arts style anywhere, Maybeck's Palace was designed to look like an overgrown, crumbling roman ruin, something that might be discovered by someone on the Grand Tour. Today, the exhibition hall is the home of a children's museum, and the rotunda still stands (although it is, unfortunately, closed right now; the city is restoring it, and I expect it'll be open again in a few months). It's a weird and romantic place to visit, and the spotlights that illuminate particular details make it one of the more dramatic scenes in the city. pictured: I took this shot of the Rotunda a few weeks ago - click the thumbnail for a larger image

StoreywindowsBorn in Chicago in 1879, Ellsworth Storey grew up to become one of the most important architects of Seattle. He was influenced very strongly by the Arts & Crafts movement (Frank Lloyd Wright's own Chicago Arts & Crafts Society was instrumental in Storey's early socialization as an architect), but integrated a a wide variety of European and North African styles into his work. The strong influence of the Swiss chalet-style home is especially noticeable in many of the Seattle residences he designed.

Recently, Hillel decided to document his own passion - the Ellsworth Storey house he owns - and his recent hobby, the life and work of the man who built it. If you live in the Northwest, you probably already know about Storey's influence and have seen some of his houses; if not, take a few minutes to visit and learn about a tremendously underappreciated American craftsman.

BYO Gamble House (or Taliesin)


For the gajillionaires among you who aspire to build your own Gamble or Irwin house: the Library of Congress' wonderful American Memory Project includes in its voluminous archives a number of high-resolution building plans of these and other great Craftsman homes, furniture and more. And thier archive of Frank Lloyd Wright drawings, plans and photographs is absolutely immense - I spent several sleepless hours poring over the photographs alone.