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Auldbrass Plantation, just outside Yemassee in the northern reaches of Beaufort County, has drawn visitors worldwide to see what Frank Lloyd Wright created in 1939. The property was bought by movie producer Joel Silver in 1987 and restored during the past three decades.
The 4,000 acre property on the Combahee River, which includes a main house, caretaker house, kennels and stables, is “one of the largest and most complex residential projects Wright ever undertook,” according to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
Two months after they were first offered to the public, tickets to tour Auldbrass in November are still available. Tours serve as a fundraiser for the Beaufort County Open Land Trust. Previously offered every two years, organizers now plan to open the plantation annually.
Tours will be offered Nov. 9-11, from 8:30 am until 5 pm, divided into morning and afternoon sessions. Tickets cost $175 per person and can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com by searching “Auldbrass 2018.” More here.
Curbed questions how historic sites can cope with costs, challenges, and societal changes in an Instagram era. As an example, they focused on the David and Gladys Wright House, which boasts an impressive pedigree. Built in 1952, this three-bedroom nautilus of a home, designed by architecture icon Frank Lloyd Wright for his son, is one of a handful of rounded designs that foreshadows the contours of the Guggenheim Museum.
It seemed like a shoo-in for preservation, especially after Zach Rawling purchased the home for $2.4 million in 2012, saving it from the wrecking ball. Rawling had grand plans to create a museum and wedding venue, and despite neighborhood resistance to having a new cultural institution down the block, he seemed on the verge of success. There were even plans announced last summer to donate the home to the School of Architecture at Taliesin, which Wright founded, turning the residence into a “living laboratory” and reconnecting it with the architect’s legacy.
That plan fell through recently. Rawling and Taliesin struggled with fundraising. Rawling needed to raise $7 million by 2020 for the agreement to work and without financial support, the home again returned to the open market, asking $12.9 million. According to Waytkus, the David Wright House saga highlights many issues that make preserving historic homes—especially those of recent architectural vintage—a costly and challenging endeavor. Many of the modernist homes considered pilgrimage spots for architecture buffs, such as Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House or the Glass House by Philip Johnson, face extensive maintenance costs and the continued challenge of convincing visitors to come—or fans to come back.
“I think it’s highly emblematic of the challenges any historic house faces,” says Liz Waytkus, executive director of Docomomo, a preservation organization focused on modern architecture. “The suggestion that a nonprofit would be able to come up with $7 million dollars...it’s incredibly difficult, especially in the U.S., where nonprofits receive very little, if any government support.” Read more.
Two homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as part of the historic Ravine Bluffs development recently became more affordable. The pair of Glencoe houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his lawyer a century ago saw cuts to their asking prices in recent months. Both landmark homes were built as part of the Ravine Bluffs development in northeast Glencoe, IL for attorney Sherman Booth and his wife Elizabeth, a leading advocate of voting rights for women.
The Ravine Bluffs project, now included on the National Register of Historic Places, was intended to include more than two dozen customizable Wright homes. However, only five were ever built.
The larger of the two houses was built for Booth as a scaled-down version of a planned mansion on the 15-acre site, while the smaller cottage was built for Booth's family to live in while construction was underway on the main house. The cottage was later moved to its current location on Franklin Road upon completion of the main house on Sylvan Road.
The larger of the Booth properties, a three-story, 4,000-square-foot design with a rooftop deck, was one of Wright's final completed Prairie-style designs his last completed work in Glencoe, according to the Glencoe Historical Society. The home was purchased in 1967 by Ted and Sonia Bloch from Northwestern University for $74,000. According to Crain's Chicago Business, the couple had no idea they were buying a Wright-designed house at the time. Mr. Bloch died in 2015, and Mrs. Bloch passed away in May, according to obituaries. The home was listed in July 2016 for $1.9 million. Its asking price dropped to $1.15 million in August.
The smaller home was purchased in 1956 by architect Meyer Rudoff and art teacher Doris Rudoff, Crain's reported. Mr. Rudoff died in 2003 and Mrs. Rudoff died in 2014. The home has honorary landmark protection from the village, but that would not protect it from potential demolition. Nonetheless, the current owners told Crain's they have no interest in selling it to someone who is looking to raze the structure. The home was first listed in October 2017, and its asking price was reduced to $825,000 in September. More here.
Kari Lydersen of Energy News Network informs us that Geothermal advocates argue the heating and cooling systems are a good option for homes and businesses in urban and suburban areas. ComEd is offering incentives to help make the upfront costs of installation more affordable. The utility is planning to step up advertising of its residential geothermal incentive program, which has existed for two years, and it is running a new pilot program offering incentives for commercial geothermal — larger installations for businesses, hospitals, schools, and other institutions.
The geothermal experts gathered around design engineer Mark Nussbaum inside the historic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Unity Temple in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park marveled at the twisted maze of pipes packed into a tight crawl space. Nussbaum, principal with the local firm Architectural Consulting Engineers, specializes in designing and implementing geothermal systems in historic buildings, which pose special challenges since structures can’t be altered or damaged under preservation laws.
The temple did not previously have air conditioning, and geothermal — with nine pipes in a 500-foot deep vertical well — was the only way to make cooling structurally and financially viable. It also means lower energy bills for the foundation that runs the temple. By harnessing the temperature differential between the earth and air, geothermal systems use a heat exchange system to both heat and cool with much less electricity than would be needed for typical cooling or forced-air heating systems, and without burning natural gas as many Chicago buildings do for heat.
Nussbaum implemented the geothermal installation, completed last year, as part of a larger $25 million rehab of the aging temple. It took ingenuity to pack the system’s interior pipes into tiny spaces throughout the temple and to open air vents without changing the temple’s appearance. He also integrated the geothermal system with the building’s historic radiators, which are needed in order to reduce humidity on the walls. The fact that the Unity Temple geothermal installation was successful shows that geothermal can be retrofitted into almost any structure.Read more.
Three 1923 drawings of Frank Lloyd Wright's Lake Tahoe Cabin (labeled "Fir Tree Type") that were thought to have been lost have resurfaced in a private collection!
The colored pencil rendering and graphite plan appeared in architect H. De Fries’ 1926 book Frank Lloyd Wright Aus Dem Lebenswerke Eines Architekten, but disappeared after publication with whereabouts unknown for decades. Only the book’s images were included in major Wright histories in subsequent years.
However, in the 1980s, the drawings appeared in the materials of sculptor, Alfonso Iannelli. They may have been sent to Iannelli from Germany by Wright — though the exact reasons for why they ended up with him in Chicago are unknown. One theory is that because Wright lacked clients at the time—but Iannelli was doing record business—the artist would help direct architectural work to Wright if he had material to showcase.
Several other Wright drawings wound up in the Iannelli estate, with some sold in the 1980s to private collections and public institutions (including the Museum of Modern Art). These particular three drawings were sold to a private collector at that time and have remained hidden in obscurity ever since. Until now!
Now, after all these years, they are being offered for sale as a set to keep them together so that the complete story of one of Wright’s most beautiful projects can be told. To inquire, please contact representative David Jameson at the ArchiTech Gallery for details.