Frank Lloyd Wright gallery opening

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It's a bit off the beaten path, but if you find yourself anywhere near Racine, WI (just a bit south of Milwaukee) you could not do better than to stop at the SC Johnson headquarters, where a new gallery devoted to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright is opening this week. The initial offering - a broad meditation on Wright's most popular Prairie-style work - will run for a year, to be followed by other exhibits focusing on various aspects of the architect and designer's work.

Several buildings at the SC Johnson campus are Wright creations, so you'll want to schedule a tour to see those as well.


The Craftsman: Almost Every Issue, Now Online

  1901-10-1

I've recently been gifted a large archive of every issue (bar two - issues 8 and 9 from the 1916 volume are missing) of Gustav Stickley's The Craftsman, beginning with volume 1, number 1 in October of 1901. I'll be posting one every few days for the coming weeks, starting with the first issue today. 

Here you go: Volume 1, number 1 of The Craftsman: October 1901 (3 meg PDF)

Thanks very much to the archival-minded friend - another big fan of the public domain - who passed these on to me!


Voysey clocks & more

from our friend Christopher Vickers:

Following on from the CFA Voysey Clocks postings here last August [Voysey clocks; Chris Vickers & Voysey], readers may be interested in Christopher Vickers new page featuring many of the period Voysey clocks still known to exist.

Chris would be very interested to receive further information / images of Voysey clocks, or really anything at all designed by Voysey!


Gustav Stickley library table, from the Metropolitan Museum collection

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Library table, ca. 1906
Gustav Stickley (American, 1858–1942); Craftsman Workshops
Syracuse, New York
Oak, leather; H. 30 in. (76.2 cm), Diam. 55 in. (139.7 cm)
Gift of Cyril Farny, in memory of his wife, Phyllis Holt Farny, 1976 (1976.389.1)

Inspired by William Morris, Gustav Stickley founded The United Crafts (later known as Craftsman Workshops) in 1898. Stickley was greatly influenced by Ruskin and Morris, his travels to Europe, and important contemporary journals such as The Studio and Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration. Initially managing the firm as a guild, Stickley participated in profit-sharing with his employees, but as the operation grew, regular factory standards were implemented. The Craftsman line was introduced to the public in 1900. This hexagonal library table is made of oak with a leather top ostensibly adhered by overt circular tacks, and utilizes visible joinery with tenon-and-key joints. Illustrated in the November 1902 issue of The Craftsman, the Arts and Crafts periodical published by Gustav Stickley between 1901 and 1916, the hexagonal library table became a popular item in Stickley's sales inventory.


Sacramento Historic House

Tracy Doolittle lives here in Sacramento and is just as much a fan of our beautiful old houses as I am. For $300, she'll do very extensive history on your home, finding out a timeline (and biographical highlights) of its past owners & residents, a permit history, the original property or historic neighborhood map, and other information - including, sometimes, historic photographs. She has also written a how-to article if you'd like to attempt this yourself.

A useful service, certainly. Tracy also has a website, Sacramento Historic House, which profiles several representative properties (including the beautiful and enormous Cranston-Geary house, in whose listing she gives a shout-out to us). Several of the most impressive Victorians are already listed, and it looks like she's adding new structures all the time. There's a blog, too, with many recent entries focusing on the historic homes and castles she encountered on a recent trip to London.


Christopher Vickers & CFA Voysey

Wallpaper_advert I first encountered Christopher Vickers' work when a friend showed me photos of a clock he built (he's also reproduced another famous Voysey clock with which you may be more familiar). Based on C. F. A. Voysey's original plans, the clock is built from 7,000-year-old bog oak, and is inlaid with (faux) ivory. The original was built by Voysey in 1921 for a client - the same one for whom Voysey designed the beautiful Holly Mount in Beaconsfield. Voysey was known for his clocks, of course; apparently, he loved the confluence of lettering, machine, and furniture that these tiny and complicated objects represented.

Vickers is a scholar of all things Voysey, and 20th-century British design in general, with quite a bit of background on this great and often overlooked designer / artist / architect on his website; my own love of Voysey's work springs mainly from my interest in typography and Voysey's wonderful and expressive hand-lettering (see the wallpaper advertisement here, taken from Mr. Vickers' site) - so seeing Vickers' exceptional work, and through it his obvious love for the combined subtlety and detail that I've always appreciated in Voysey, really impressed and resonated with me.

My favorite piece of Voysey-designed furniture in Vickers collection is this replica dining chair with arms, originally designed in 1902. Vickers' reproduction sells for £1850, and appears to be completely true to the original.

Other impressive bits of Mr. Vickers' work include unique items of Arts & Crafts lighting; a number of beautiful and useful chests in a variety of sizes and configurations; beautiful and sturdy tables, including some based on Voysey designs for Hollymount and other homes; inlaid wooden boxes; cabinetry and shelving, including several that feature hardware hand-forged by Vickers; and a number of pieces of metalwork, produced in the Gimson-Cotswold tradition in just the way we like it: "by hammer & hand."

Vickers' work is art and craft, and some of the finest contemporary A&C furniture I've seen. If you're interested, you can see pieces on display from September 10 to 24 at the 2nd annual Arts & Crafts Exhibition in Gloucestershire's Prinknash Abbey Park; from September 13 to 28, you can actually visit his workshop in Frome, as it will be open to the public during Somerset Art Weeks. His work will also be included in the Ernest Gimson and the Arts & Crafts Movement exhibit in Leicester, November 8 2008 through March 1 2009.


the Greene & Greene-ing of America

This past week's Arroyo Monthly, a free publication mailed mostly to homeowners in Pasadena, California, includes the following article by Michael Cervin on the increased popularity of Greene & Greene not just in Southern California but nationwide:

Architects Charles and Henry Greene are known around the world for their striking Arts and Crafts homes, which so thoroughly punctuate the Southern California landscape. It's perhaps ironic then that the late Henry Greene's own home, the one he initially built for his mother-in-law, was razed in 1968 and is now a parking structure. Charles Greene's home on Arroyo Terrace still stands. Thus fared the personal residences of the architects whose names are more closely associated with Pasadena than those of any of their peers. The brothers built 75 structures in the Crown City during their career, mainly custom residences, of which nearly 40 are still standing.

“Other architects have enjoyed more famous careers,” noted Edward Bosley, James N. Gamble Director of the Gamble House. “Others have produced more buildings. Still others have earned more notoriety for progressive designs that advanced the discipline of architecture. But no other architects have left us with a more glowing legacy of beauty, craft, livability and spirit than Charles and Henry Greene.”

British architecture critic Reyner Banham, quoted in a book by former Gamble House curator Randell Makinson, said that Greene & Greene residences looked completely in their element in Southern California, “and especially so in Pasadena – that it's often difficult to conceive of them as part of any nationwide, let alone worldwide, movement. They seem so specific to that Arroyo Culture of which they are the chief ornaments and the true treasure-houses.”

Though the term “bungalow” is associated with the Greenes, most of their best-known homes are not true bungalows, which were conceived in India as modest one-story structures. Certainly the Greenes started out designing homes for the common man. The Architectural Record referred to their work in a 1906 essay: “The houses are largely successful because they so frankly meet economic, domestic and practical conditions. Their chief characteristics are their lowness, big overhanging roofs, their shingled walls and the absence of architectural ornament.”

read the full article on the Arroyo Monthly site


please help: Gastonia historic district threatened

Residents of Gastonia, North Carolina - a beautiful community just a few miles north of the NC/SC border, just west of Charlotte and not far from Arts & Crafts center Asheville - are very scared that their showcase historic district is in immediate danger of being partially demolished and almost totally homogenized by real estate developers:

I live in a historic home, in a historic district, adjacent to a historic downtown. While many homes and buildings are in disrepair, some to the point of severe deterioration, I have always, and will always feel that they are worth saving. And I need HELP!

Gastonia's City Council has recently voted to demolish 3 city-owned buildings on our Historic Main Street, including a theatre that was built around the turn of the century and an old Woolworth's, even though there were multiple offers to purchase and rehab them. Contrary to what the City Manager, Mayor and Coucilmembers say, there are multiple buildings that have just been renovated, or are about to be.  These buildings are right in the middle of the block, sharing walls with buildings that are currently under rehab!  Our downtown is on the National Register, and yet none of the preservation societies are able to help.  If any one knows of any way to help stop this travesty, please post here!

Here are the links to relevant articles!  Our small paper is doing a great job of reporting this! 1 2 3 4 5


Sears kit homes in Minneapolis

Kim Palmer had a good article on Sears kit homes in the Star Tribute earlier this month. Read the entire article on the Star Tribute site.

When Paul Kirkman first laid eyes on the house he bought last year, he knew it was a rare find: a 1917 Arts & Crafts bungalow with all its original woodwork and charm intact.

The house, in Minneapolis' Bryn Mawr neighborhood, had all the features that bungalow fans covet: dark built-ins, wainscoting and moulding, coffered box-beam ceilings and even an Inglenook fireplace.

"I said, 'This is perfect -- the one,'" recalled Kirkman, who had been searching for just such a home for seven months. "I like bungalows, and in my mind, this hits the pinnacle of that kind of architecture. The living room is about as original as you can get."

But Kirkman's bungalow is something even rarer: a Sears kit house, one of about 75,000 sold by mail order between 1915 and 1940.

There were 370 models, representing many styles, but Kirkman's house, the "Ashmore," is one of the least common, with only a handful of known surviving examples, according to Rosemary Thornton, author of "The Houses That Sears Built."

Advertised as "the Aristocrat of Bungalows," the Ashmore was among the largest (2,800 square feet) and most elaborate of the Sears kit homes. "It's a beauty, with a lot of nice features," Thornton said.

And it definitely defies any stereotype that mail-order homes are low-rent, said Tim Counts, president of the Twin Cities Bungalow Club. "Some people think of kit homes as ricky-ticky, slap-it-together, but often they are very high-end homes, and that one is a perfect example."


Frank Lloyd Wright's Kentuck Knob (1954), Ohiopyle PA

This wonderful FLW property - built in the "deluxe" Usonian style on a beautiful 80-acre lot - is just a few miles from Fallingwater. Along with the extensive sculpture garden, it is open for public tours.

The House on Kentuck Knob was designed in 1954 and completed in 1956 for I. N. and Bernardine Hagan, friends of the Kaufmans, for whom Wright built Fallingwater. The home, build of tidewater cypress, glass and 800 tons of local sandstone - and a very striking copper roof - is situated in western Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands, and includes a gorgeous view of the Youghiogheny River gorge and the surrounding hills.

The Hagans lived in the house for 30 years, and sold it to Baron Peter Palumbo, an English developer, art collector and architecture conservationist, in 1986.

  • slideshow of images from Kentuck Knob and its sculpture garden, including a few of Fallingwater

Thanks to Douglas Sanders' wonderful Frank Lloyd Wright Newsblog for reminding us of this very pretty and unique home!


Brea's Bungalows

Richard Dodd's May 19 article in the Orange County Register on Brea, California's Union Oil Co. neighborhood is a good one:

The 1882 discovery of oil in shallow wells in Brea Canyon had a major influence in the history and economy of Orange County. Several small oil companies sprang up shortly afterward and in 1890, some of them merged to form Union Oil Co. of California.

Many local communities faced a housing shortage for new workmen during the oil and land boom in the 1920s. Union Oil built 61 homes for their employees in the southwestern part of Brea. This area became known as the "Union Oil neighborhood."

The bungalow period was in full swing at the time. As a result, most of the homes are California, Craftsman and Pueblo bungalows and other variations interspersed with a few provincial revivals.

read the whole thing

Continue reading "Brea's Bungalows" »


Signature Style in the San Francisco Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle, for its various failings as a source of unbaised and serious local reporting, has some of the best feature articles on architecture of any regional paper in the country. Especially worth reading are Dave Weinstein's Signature Style columns on local architects and properties - often with a very strong Arts & Crafts bent. Here are several that most closely relate to Arts & Crafts homes and their builders in Northern California:


Los Gatos Historic Homes Tour

Well, I missed it this year - the tour was two weeks ago - but Los Gatos' annual Historic Homes Tour was a big success, raising money for both the Los Gatos Art and History museums.

The $30 tour visited six homes in Los Gatos' historic Glen Ridge neighborhood, which is jam-packed with pretty bungalows and cottages, most of them with interesting Craftsman details. Alastair Dallas of the Los Gatos Observer has a good article and several photographs of the tour; homes from the 2001 tour can be visited, online, through Shari Kaplan's October 2001 article in the Los Gatos Weekly-Times.

  • 22 Glen Ridge Ave.: A two-story cottage-style house, built in 1904 for lawyer William F. Pierce and his family, will have the original architect's drawings displayed in the library. It has two cutaway bay windows, a hipped roof with widow's walk and a front-facing gable over its front porch. Used for years as a rental, the home has been returned to its original single-family status by its current owner, who tore down a 1908 addition to build a new kitchen and bath in that space.
  • 133 Glen Ridge Ave.: Look carefully for the subtle decorative elements on the house built in 1909 by David Crummey, who started the Bean Spray Pump Co., maker of the first high-pressure pump for insecticides. (The company later evolved into San Jose's Food Machinery Corp., a maker of farming equipment and, later, huge military vehicles.) Corner towers have hipped roofs, cantilevered on the front and sides with decorated braces below. A hipped center dormer has exposed rafters under the eaves. Stained glass can be seen in the top panes of the tower windows. And here's where you can see the aforementioned quatrefoil windows. The house retains its original footprint, front facade and entry porch, but the insides have been updated - keeping to the period - by the current owners.
  • 219 Glen Ridge Ave.: More fun architectural details are on the cedar-shingled Craftsman-style house with its recessed porch and side-gable roof, built in 1907 for Frank A. Dixon, superintendent of the San Jose Fruit Packaging Co. Carved rafter "tails" show off the skills of a fine woodworker, and the stonework at the sidewalk is original. Inside, many period features remain, including built-in bookcases and dining room buffet, paneling in the dining room and coved ceilings. The current owners extended the rear of the house to remodel the kitchen and add a family room in the 1990s.
  • 19 Hernandez:The oldest house on the tour was built before 1891 and is known as the family home of "Judge" Fowler, although Thomas Fowler actually was a senator and may have even died before the family moved into the house. The Victorian Queen Anne-style house has cantilevered bay windows on the right front and side, a porch with turned columns and a central, front-facing gable. The current owner has remodeled in period style and added a second story for a master bedroom and bath in the early 2000s.
  • 119 Tait Ave.: The newest house on the tour was built in 1993 to replace a circa-1890 Victorian that was red-tagged and razed after it was knocked off its foundation during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. It has typical Queen Anne-style features such as a bay window, wraparound porch with turned columns and hipped roof - all designed to allow the new construction to fit seamlessly into its neighborhood. The current owner purchased it in 1994.
  • 142 Tait Ave.: What's called the "Rene Doolittle House" was built in 1923, likely by Doolittle himself. About 12 years ago, the second story was added, but the first story retains its original Craftsman features such as the stucco under the gables and braces and the exposed rafter tails.

Oakland's Architectural Gems: From Victorian to Craftsman & Beyond

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Valerie Garry of the Oakland Heritage Alliance was kind enough to write an introduction to Oakland's architecture with a special emphasis on its great Arts & Crafts properties just for us. In addition, she's included a number of images in addition to the Glendale house (pictured), all of which are available for view in a special Flickr album. Please forward additional photos of interesting Oakland buildings to us for inclusion in this set.

The Oakland Heritage Alliance - a stalwart organization of grass-roots preservationists - celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2005 and what a quarter century it has been.  In 1980, seven people with an ambitious goal scraped together a $150 to get the organization rolling. Their goal: to stem the tide (at times a Tsunami) of urban renewal projects that were paving over, plowing under, and otherwise obliterating at an alarming rate some of Oakland's precious historic architectural fabric. Whole blocks of Victorians had already been lost. Many of downtown Oakland's handsome early 20th century commercial buildings were knocked down to make way for dreary paved expanses of parking lots. Even the masterpieces, such as Bernard Maybeck's magnificent Packard Showroom by the shores of Lake Merritt, were demolished.  Armed with a fierce determination to protect the precious historic, architectural and cultural legacy of Oakland, the small group began to throw their energy and time into preservation action.

Oakland Heritage Alliance has now grown into an organization of close to a 1000 members. Although the battle to save irreplaceable old buildings continues, the organization has logged an impressive list of historically significant architecture, cultural assets, and unique green spaces, that it has helped save and restore. There is Oakland City Hall, a magnificent Beaux-Arts skyscraper that was nearly demolished because of damage it suffered during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. The Fox Oakland Theater, with its exotic blend of Indian, Moorish, Medieval and Baghdadian styles, which one writer dubbed "one part Arab and three parts Hollywood hokum," narrowly escaped becoming a parking lot.

One of Oakland's most distinctive Art Deco buildings, the Floral Depot, with its brilliant cobalt blue and silver glazed terra cotta, was also almost demolished. Now completely restored to its lustrous beauty, it is about to become a stylish restaurant. OHA fought to save Old Merritt College, a rare surviving example of early 20th century California school architecture modeled on California missions, nearly razed to make way for a shopping center. The building is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The list goes on and on.

Oakland has some of the most architecturally varied and distinctive residential neighborhoods in the Bay Area. Its architectural heritage includes Art Deco, Victorian, Beaux Arts, and period revivals (Italian Renaissance, Spanish Eclectic, and English cottage), Stick Eastlake and colonial revival. And in the gently rolling hills of Oakland are a seemingly infinite variety of Craftsman homes-charming, rustic, whimsical, modest and grand -many built to provide homes for San Franciscans who moved to the East Bay after the 1906 earthquake, or who sought a sunny summer place to escape the foggy city by the Bay.  There is the exotic Jesse Matteson house, or Sunset House, in the Fruitvale neighborhood. Built in 1905, one writer described it as a cross between a Japanese Bungalow and a Viking ship. There is Bernard Maybeck's elegant and incomparable Guy Hyde Chick house (1913), which, remarkably, survived the 1991 Oakland Hills fire; there is Julia Morgan's remarkable YWCA building in downtown Oakland; homes by John Hudson Thomas; and Storybook style homes with witch's cap turrets by Carr Jones.

A TAKE ON THE TEMESCAL

On Sunday, October 15, the Oakland Heritage Alliance will present a house tour of homes in one of Oakland's most vibrant and historic areas - the Temescal neighborhood. The tour will be from 1-5:30 p.m. Among the houses featured on the tour will be a 1903 Classic Revival house that incorporates a water tower and a c. 1900 house transformed into a mid-century modern house. A 1910 stucco bungalow on the tour features an unusual collection of antiques such as Chinese cinnabar, antique Chinese children's hats, beaded handbags, Victorian lace dresses, black paper dolls, and 19th century ruby Bavarian glass. The tour will also include an 1880 two-story Italianate, as well as an Eastlake and Arts and Crafts bungalow, both undergoing extensive renovation.

The house tour is self-guided and easy to walk. The starting point for the tour is in front of Acorn Kitchen and Bath, 4640 Telegraph Avenue. Proceeds from the tour benefit the Oakland Heritage Alliance. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 the day of the tour, and $25 for OHA members and include a reception with refreshments. OHA is looking for volunteers to help with the tour and all volunteers will receive complimentary admission to the tour. Contact 510.763.9218 for information or to make reservations, email info@oaklandheritage.org, or visit www.oaklandheritage.org.

Valerie Garry, MS Historic Preservation
Vice President, Oakland Heritage Alliance

for more information: Oakland Heritage Alliance is a non-profit membership organization that advocates the protection, preservation, and revitalization of Oakland's architectural, historic, cultural and natural resources though education and action.

For 2006 summer walking tour and fall house tour information, contact: Oakland Heritage Alliance: 446 17th Street, Suite 301 / Oakland, CA 94612, or send us email or call 510.763.9218.


Forest Hills Gardens: an American Planned Community

Fhgyellowmap Situated on the edge of New York City's borough of Queens, Forest Hills Gardens is probably the most successful - and best known - example of an English planned garden community in the United States. Originally built as a commuter suburb - even in 1915, just six years after its construction, it was less than 15 minutes from Manhattan's Penn Station by rail - the community was originally planned and built by the Russell Sage Foundation and Cord-Meyer Development Co. beginning in 1909. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., son of the father of landscape architecture and a great craftsman and technician in his own right, collaborated with architect Grosvenor Atterbury to make a community that worked both internally and as part of the world-class city they both realized New York would soon grow into.

This thriving community still offers a lush, green and very much park-like escape for several thousand residents, and suggests solutions for our conflict between limiting sprawl and creating living, working, and above all livable communities. Forest Hills Gardens was home to many visionaries of the time, including Frederic Goudy, one of the foremost typeface and graphic designers of the age and an important figure in the American Arts & Crafts Movement. Goudy even published a monograph in 1915 detailing his own family's many reasons for relocating to the community; unfortunately, the book has not been reprinted, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a copy today. Gustav Stickley's own magazine, The Craftsman, also featured articles and drawings on the community in 1911.

Susan Klaus has written a terrific book on Olmsted's relationship to the community, focusing on the planning of the community and with many illustrations of its history to the present. It's worth a read if you are interested in planned communities in general and how the Arts & Crafts Ideal can be applied to so much more than simply architectural design. Additional photographs of and articles on the community are available online.


Saving Bingham House

The great Prairie architect George Maher's Bingham House, in Highland Park, Illinois, will likely not be standing this time next month if its new owners get their way. They originally applied for a demolition permit back in January 2006; their application was stayed by the local Preservation Commission via a six-month reprieve, which expires in a little over a week.

The Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (LPCI) has prepared a PDF on the structure itself.

Can anyone in Highland Park update us on the status of this property or the Preservation Committee's action? Thanks to reader James Shewmaker for letting us know about the impending destruction of one of the area's most striking and historicall important buildings!


New York Times: Far Rockaway Bungalows Under Siege

Corey Kilgannon reports on the relentless sublimation of all that is old and/or unique, this time the destruction of the beach bungalows lining the path to Far Rockaway Beach in New York:

Richard George lives in a charming little beach bungalow just off the ocean on the eastern end of the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens.

Like the homes of his neighbors, his small, three-bedroom shack is cooled by the salty breeze and surrounded by wildflowers and the sandy walkways leading to other lovely old wooden homes that form a beach colony, parts of which look more like Fire Island than New York City.

Mr. George’s home on Beach 24th Street has cotton bedspreads, quaint tablecloths and kitschy artwork. But don’t be fooled by the surroundings: it’s really a war bunker from which he defends his ever-shrinking seaside neighborhood.

At the table in his galley-size kitchen, he assembles legal briefs used to sue developers and city agencies to ward off efforts to demolish the bungalows for newer, bigger housing.

Back when the Rockaways was still a popular ocean resort for New Yorkers, these bungalows were abundant, with many built in the 1920’s. Groucho Marx is said to have invested in 24 of them. Now the largest remaining patch of the historic shacks are the roughly 120 that line three city blocks leading to the dunes in Far Rockaway.

With each passing year, more of the bungalows along Beach 24th, 25th and 26th Streets between Seagirt Boulevard and the boardwalk are demolished by developers building new housing. So far, Mr. George has not been able to get the city to declare the bungalows, many of which are abandoned, landmarks. So he fights local development by filing lawsuits claiming that the projects violate federal coastal regulations by illegally diminishing public access to the waterfront.

     

Read the complete article online at nytimes.com.


A Visit with Randell L. Makinson

the following interview with Randell L. Makinson, by Linda Arntzenius, was originally published in Autumn 1998 issue of USC's Trojan Family Magazine.

If there is a Greene & Greene cult abroad in Southern California, USC architecture alumnus Randell L. Makinson can take most of the credit.

Imagine yourself a keen student of architecture. Eager to assist a visiting professor by bringing him slides for his architectural history class, you approach a large, wooden house on a quiet residential street in an upscale Pasadena neighborhood. No sound save birdsong breaks the late morning silence. Lawns are perfectly cropped, hedges trimmed. No one is about as you set up camera and tripod for a carefully composed shot of the magnificent building. Framed in your viewfinder, the portal is a symphony of oiled teakwood and leaded glass.

Then, just as you are about to click the shutter, the door opens. A gentleman, tall and imposing in a dark suit, steps out. You watch as, unsmiling, he makes he way across the wide, private lawn and asks you to explain yourself.

This is precisely what happened to Randell L. Makinson in 1954 in front of 4 Westmoreland Place. But instead of being sent about his business, Makinson founds himself treated to a tour of the house and garden. Three and a half hourse later, he was seated on the living room floor with Cecil and Louise Gamble, pouring over their home's original blueprints.

much more after the jump, below

Continue reading "A Visit with Randell L. Makinson" »


An Arts & Crafts Haven, Intact but in Peril

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From the June 22 New York Times article, which also includes a short slideshow:

SOMEWHERE close to New York City — but far, far away, up a narrow driveway and into the woods — lies Crow House, a rambling Arts and Crafts mix of architectural styles: an eccentric "not to everyone's taste" kind of stone house designed and built in the 1920's by Henry Varnum Poor, for many decades one of the country's most famous painters and potters.

Although Poor, who died in 1970, is largely forgotten, his house now stands at the center of a complicated round robin of conflict that involves preservationists who have formed a group to save it; his son, who vows not to watch the house deteriorate and has just signed a contract to sell it to a local entrepreneur; Poor's granddaughter, who opposes her father's decision to sell but feels powerless to prevent it; and town officials who had begged in vain for more time to consider making the house into a museum.

Preservation advocates say they fear that the prospective owner, who has already shown the site to an architect, will tear down the house or substantially alter it. Land values are high in this part of Rockland County: Crow House is only a 45-minute drive from Midtown Manhattan.

The photograph of potter Henry Varnum Poore's home, Crow House, is by New York Times photographer Fred R. Conrad.


Classic Seattle Bungalows the new Spotted Owl?

Seattle Weekly Editor-in-Chief Knute Berger, in The 'Just Right' People (click for full article), writes on the Craftsman aesthetic and the relation of the bungalow to a true, working middle class:

Some years ago, my then-grade-school-aged daughter was trying to figure out where our family fit in the grand scheme of things. "Dad, are we rich?" she asked. No, I answered. "Are we poor?" No. Her face brightened, and she said happily, "Then we're the 'just right' people!"

That's social-class theory according to Goldilocks. In my daughter's eyes, we had attained a kind of secure just-rightness that offers comfort. That kind of value used to personify Seattle, a city that prided itself as being a middle-class, democratic, populist alternative to big Eastern metropolises or sprawling Western ones.

Rich people showed up in Seattle pretty late. The first millionaires were made by the Alaskan Gold Rush, which ushered in a rum, retail, and real-estate boom. Early labor activism added resistance to the growing influence of the robber barons, and the clash between upper and lower classes evolved a city in which there was little economic difference between union blue-collar workers and Boeing white collars.


Arts and Crafts in Boston

Maureenmeister Architecture Radio is a wonderful online lecture series and covers an enormous range of topics - and I am ashamed to write that I did not know about this terrific resource until today. A relatively recent lecture (mp3; recorded at the Boston Public Library on 05.05, published 09.05) by Maureen Meister, author of Architecture and the Arts & Crafts Movement in Boston: Harvard's H. Langford Warren (the first full-length study of this very important turn-of-the-century architect, educator and movement leader) and editor of H. H. Richardson: The Architect, His Peers and Their Era is devoted to the Arts & Crafts Movement in Boston.

Old House Interiors writes of her book on H. Langford Warren that “(she) makes the point that some architects are influential because they have a lot of clients, while others exert their influence less directly - but more widely - through students… Warren's own blend of Gothic, Georgian, and Colonial forms was perceived as the proper New England style long after his death in 1917. In serving the Society of Arts and Crafts for longer than anyone else, Warren further imprinted area taste.”

Paraphrased the jacket of her most recent book: 'Maureen Meister has taught art history courses at the Art Institute of Boston, Lesley University, Northeastern University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston since 1982. In recent years she has lectured on American architecture at Tufts University.' And she has a very nice voice, too.


How Much is it Worth?

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I get a lot of emails asking me to identify or otherwise evaluate various pieces of Arts and Crafts antique furniture - something I am completely unqualified to do. However, now that I've discovered the Chicago Antiques Guide, I have somewhere to turn when I get these requests.

The Guide is a weblog devoted to identifying and valuing antiques (specifically those in and around Chicago, IL). It's a great place to get advice about mystery items that have floated down the generations of your family, and  an even better way to learn about all sorts of makers' stamps and other identifying marks on furniture, ceramics, metalwork, glass and textiles.

The site also includes an extensive resources list of antique buying / pricing / selling / repairing agents throughout the Chicago area.


Berkeley's Panoramic Hill Gets Federal Status

Berkeley's Panoramic Hill neighborhood is now a designated Federal Historic District. This neighborhood, full of homes - large and tiny - overlooking the UC Berkeley campus, looks down (as the Berkeley Daily Planet notes in their article on the subject) on Berkeley's first entry on the National Registry of Historic Places, a tiny laboratory in room 307 of Gilman Hall where Wahl, Seaborg and Kennedy discovered plutonium.

The neighborhood boasts numerous well-maintained Craftsman homes, including a number of famous "Berkeley Brown Shingles." Local residents, under the aegis of the Panoramic Hill Association, applied to join the Register after they learned of the University's plan to add extremely bright night-time lighting to its stadium, which would have drowned out much of their expansive night-time view of the Golden Gate and San Francisco. UC Berkeley's plan must now be reconsidered in light (no pun intended) of its impact on nearby areas, specifically the new Historic District.

Homes in the neighborhood include structures by such architects as Bernard Maybeck, Ernest Coxhead, Julia Morgan, John Hudson Thomas and William Wurster. BAHA - the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association - held a house tour on Panoramic Hill last year, which took advantage of the hilly neighborhood's many hidden walking paths. Here are a few pictures and some press coverage from their 2005 tour ; more pictures - including some of a wonderful Walter Steilberg 1930 cottage - taken by Ron Sipherd, are up on his site.

note: We apologize to Daniella Thompson, whose photograph we used without permission.


Richland, Washington

Richland, WA sits along the Columbia River, on the historic Lews & Clark trail. The town, incorporated in 1910, was mostly razed by the US Army to make room for a new bedroom community for Manhattan Project workers at the nearby Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The population soared from 300 to 25,000 in July and August 1943; unfortunately, this runaway growth required the destruction of the vast majority of the town's existing structures, and almost all of its residences. The army knocked down the homes to make room for new, "modern" tract homes, but a very few of the original houses - mostly built between 1907 and 1935 - were saved from the wrecker's ball. Most of those that still stand are Craftsman or inspired by Craftsman and Prairie styles; Jeremy Wells of the East Benton County Historical Museum has put together photographs of and a bit of commentary on these structures.

The new planned community of Richland was designed in less than 90 days. Construction of new streets began on March 20, 1943, and the first house completed - a "B-house," one of the "letter houses" named in the convention used for the 26 new plans (A-Z) - was finished on April 28, 1943.


Glendale Cottages Threatened

Mission7Alan Leib is trying to save a small enclave of 17 homes near the intersection of Glendale Avenue and Mission Road in Glendale, California. The "Missionary Colony," as it was called, was built to house missionaries and their families while while on furlough from overseas assignments. It is one of the few completely intact 1920s neighborhoods in this town, which has embraced development over restoration for the last 50 years.

The small homes, an eclectic mix of Craftsman, Mission and Tudor styles, are for the most part in excellent  shape, but the enlargement of a nearby healthcare complex threatens the structures. Leib says that homes similar to the 17 still-standing missionary cottages frequently sell for close to $400,000, but Glendale property regulations require the owner to apply for historical structure status, so it looks like these may soon be razed.


A & C at the V & A

Vandawindow

Fiona MacCarthy's wonderful short history of the Arts & Crafts Movement, as well as her notes on the Victoria & Albert museum's upcoming International Arts & Crafts exhibition is up on the Guardian newspaper's site. And MacCarthy knows what she's writing about: she is the author of William Morris: A Life for Our Time (and a number of other excellent books on English art movements), and is an authority on the political and social aspects of the Arts & Crafts movement. Her book on Eric Gill is especially good!

And make sure you visit the Victoria & Albert's Design a Tile page where you can make your own DeMorgan-inspired design!


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.


Edwin Lutyens

Lutyensnapoleonchair

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.


ellsworthstorey.com

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 ellsworthstorey.com and learn about a tremendously underappreciated American craftsman.
 


Los Rios Historic District

SjcmonplqOrange County contains some of the best-maintained and -restored examples of Mission Revival architecture in the United States. The best example of this style is San Juan Capistrano's Los Rios Historic District, which also happens to be the oldest continually-occupied residential neighborhood in the state - and one of the oldest in the country. Montanez Adobe (which some folks say is haunted), built in 1794, is open for tours, and the area's other historic adobes are lived in to this day - the 10th generation of the Rios family lives in one of them. The O'Neill Museum is also worth a visit when you are in the area. A number of small shops, galleries and restaurants fill the 18th and 19th century wooden homes of Los Rios; take a walking tour of the area and explore at your own pace.


Review: Byrdcliffe Traveling Exhibit

ByrdcliffelogoOur friend Keith Wiesinger, founder of the Wilson Crafts Guild, had the opportunity to visit the Byrdcliffe traveling exhibit recently and was kind of enough to forward us a short review:

The Byrdcliffe Colony is a very unique tidbit in American arts and crafts history. It started in 1902 and exists in an altered form even today. I think that the colony was in some ways the most direct transfer of William Morris's ideals and designs into the American marketplace at the turn of the century. The colony started largely by imitating Morris spirit and design queues. The traveling exhibit is excellent but I recommend some prep before you travel to see it.

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Sotheby's: Greene & Greene

GreenelightRich Muller notes that "many of the pieces that have been in the Huntington's Scott gallery are now up for auction (through Sotheby's). There are a lot of high-resolution images that I've never seen anywhere else. Get your checkbooks out, or at least download some of these images!  There is also information on each lot." Catalogs are US$43; the least expensive item up for auction is significantly more expensive.

Of special note, at least to those interested in the graphic arts: some of the most expensive cuts (of such a small size, at least) ever.


Wright's Carr Home Destroyed

FlwdemolishOn November 8, an 88-year old Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in Grand Rapids, Michigan was demolished to make room for a new single-family home. The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy would have preferred to save the home from demolition, but not made aware of the demolition plans until after the building had been torn down. According to Wright scholars and others who examined the property, however, the house was in especially bad shape and restoring it would have been a very serious undertaking. William Allin Storrer, author of The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion, said of the property:

The building deserved to be torn down, and crying over its destruction brings to mind the story of the shepherd boy who cried 'wolf' once too often. We must preserve that of Wright which truly represents his organic architectural principles, and the W.S. Carr house did not even when built, though it had the master's signature on the plan.

photograph: Kevin Byrd / Associated Press / Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy

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Two Tours

GamblefrontdoorWhen I lived in Berkeley, there was a big storm one night. The next day I noticed that a huge branch had fallen off one of my favorite oak trees in a place called Live Oak Park. City workers were cutting up the beautiful piece of wood, which was at least 5 feet in diameter at the widest point, into cross sections using a chainsaw. It seemed a waste of such a great piece of wood. I asked them if I could have a few sections, they said sure, so I loaded a few chunks into my truck.

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register your bungalow

am-bungalow-coverAmerican Bungalow magazine offers a registry for your bungalow. The registry is a privately funded archive of period homes, established to protect and preserve America's historic houses and neighborhoods, encourage the bungalow way of life, and save a few bungalows in the process. To register, fill out the form, print and fax or mail to American Bungalow. Please note, this registry does not restrict or imply any kind of regulation on your home or on future homeowners.


Northome at the Met

wright-chairThe Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan can't really be said to have anything on display that is not a highlight. However, one of my personal favorite parts of the museum is the Frank Lloyd Wright room, a re-creation of the living room at Northome, formerly of Wayzata, Minnesota. The Met's reassembled room contains some beautiful pieces of Wright-designed furniture, including in ingenious collapsable print table and a pair of chairs that seem to be Wright's update of the Roycroft aesthetic. Recently, the met added an excellent virtual tour of the room to their website.

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