The History Behind Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim Museum was established by philanthropist Solomon R. Guggenheim. He had a collection of abstract paintings from American and European artists that were housed in a rented space and called the Museum of Non-Objective Painting. It was clear, however, that there was a need for a permanent location. Guggenheim, along with his museum director Hilla Rebay, commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright for the job.
On June 1, 1943, Rebay wrote a letter to Wright asking if he’d design a space to display Guggenheim’s collection. “I need a fighter, a lover of space,” she said, “an originator, a tester, and a wise man.” Of the structure, she added, “I want a temple of spirit, a monument.” There were little requirements for Wright, but the institution’s co-founders had a big stipulation. “The building should be unlike any other museum in the world.” Read the rest of the story here.
How Wright Sparked Economic Growth In Oak Park
The announcement Monday that the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust has plans to construct a new visitor center adjacent to the Home & Studio on Chicago Avenue is big news. It will much improve the experience of tourists coming to Oak Park to see Wright's work and it will, likely, grow the number of tourists. Dan Haley of OakPark.com looks back at how this economic boon has impacted the area. "It's important, as organizations like the Wright Trust move forward, to be reminded how we got where we are."
The front-page piece in Tuesday's Chicago Tribune by Blair Kamin noted that the unveiling of the architectural rendering came 45 years to the day after the founding of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio Foundation. The foundation was created shortly after a handful of Oak Park visionaries saved what had become a derelict rooming house from perpetual decay and likely demolition. Back in Oak Park, meanwhile, traditional mortgages were available for white and black families who settled here, for legacy Oak Parkers who finally started to reinvest in their homes, for new multi-family investors and the renewed Oak Park Housing Authority, which began to upgrade old apartments, for the first alcohol-serving restaurants, which gradually sparked a food renaissance here and, in a real leap, funds to reclaim Wright's Home & Studio to make the nascent tourism industry begin to flower. Read more here.
Hoffman House Owners Donate Preservation Easement to FLWBC
There is no stronger way to protect a historic property than with a preservation easement. This led Tom Tisch, longtime owner of the Hoffman House in Rye, New York, to investigate easements as he and his wife Alice prepared for the sale of their house in 2018. The Tisch family had meticulously maintained the Frank Lloyd wright-designed Hoffman House since they bought it in 1992, and they wanted to protect that investment.
Tom began discussion of an easement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy in the spring of 2018. At the same time, he successfully sought out a preservation-minded buyer for his house, and proposed including an easement as a part of the purchase contract. New owners Marc Jacobs and Charly Defrancesco were completely supportive of the idea and donated an easement to the Conservancy after the purchase.
Thanks to the foresight of the Tisch family and the enthusiastic agreement of Jacobs and Defrancesco, the Hoffman House now has a preservation easement held by the Conservancy. The easement will protect it into the future, in case the property transfers to a less preservation-sensitive future owner. More about this story here.
Rudolph Schindler’s Wolff House For Sale For $1.5M
Curbed LA features a listing for the Harry J. Wolff House, designed by pioneering modernist R.M. Schindler in 1938.
"Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 828, the two-bedroom residence at 4000 Sunnyslope Avenue was constructed with stucco and plaster over a wood frame, or what Schindler called 'plaster skin.' In 2000, the home was purchased by pedigreed-property collector Michael La Fetra, who restored it guided by the architect’s notes, blueprints, and historical photographs and secured historic designation and Mills Act protection for it in 2005.
Measuring 1,668 square feet, the home features clerestory windows, varying ceiling heights and roof lines, and extensive Douglas-fir plywood paneling, built-in furniture, and shelving. Updates include modern appliances, bamboo flooring, custom cabinetry, central heat and cooling systems, and solar panels. Outside, there’s a koi pond with waterfall and lush landscaping surrounding the house." See the photos here.
Couple Shares 25-Year Love Affair With Penwern
Sue and John Major's co-commissioned book on the history and restoration of "Penwern," the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Delavan, WI house, is now available.
Built in 1902, the house known as Penwern was designed by Wright in the period he was developing his signature Prairie style and it bears many of his famous design elements. But in 1994, Wright wasn’t a familiar name to the Majors. All they knew was that the moment they saw the stately home, with its sweeping arches and gabled roofs, they had to buy it.
A large, but somewhat-dilapidated property, the boathouse had burned down, the stables were a shambles, and the aging house had broken windows, warped floors, dodgy wiring, and some resident mice and chipmunks. But, Sue Major said, the house had great bones.
The Majors bought the property in 1994 for $750,000 and figured they’d have to spend a couple years and a fair amount of money on much-needed repairs. But when the seller handed the Majors Wright’s original hand-notated drawings from 1900, it invigorated them to dig deep and restore the home to its original glory. The $2 million restoration has taken most of the past quarter-century.
On June 6 at the now-meticulously-restored Penwern, the Majors celebrated the publication of “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Penwern: A Summer Estate.” The 146-page book — by writer, photographer, and Wright historian Mark Hertzberg — chronicles the history of the home, its architect, its original owner and the “stewards,” the latest being the Majors, who have loved and cared for Penwern ever since. Read their story here.
Heloise Crista Sculpted Rich History Into Bronze Art
If you’ve ever visited Taliesin West, you’ve likely noticed the bronze sculptures placed throughout the site. The unique sculptures hold a rich history, and were created by Heloise Crista, a member of the Taliesin Fellowship.
Crista joined the Taliesin Fellowship in 1949 and over time, Heloise became known for her sculpture work. Her first major work was a bronze bust of Wright, in 1956, which remains on display in the Garden Room at Taliesin West today. She continued to make busts of other Fellowship members and her son, and in 1978 she decided to make sculpture her career. In the ’70s and ’80s she even taught a sculpture class at Taliesin. Her sculptures have been incorporated throughout the campus at Taliesin West. Heloise passed away on March 11, 2018, at her home at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona.
If you love her wonderful organic sculptures, you can own one for your home— available in a variety of sizes, colors, and styles exclusively in the Frank Lloyd Wright Store. More information here.
Preserving The Pappas House
The Frank Lloyd Wright designed Bette and Theodore A. Pappas House is finally changing hands after nearly 60 years with its namesake family. The owners have put a deed restriction on the property for the purpose of ensuring that the new owner won’t be able to tear the house down and must preserve and maintain it.
One of Wright's distinctive "Usonian Automatics" the 2,310-square-foot residence was constructed by the owners with the help of day laborers between 1960 and 1964. Red floors complement the earthen concrete blocks that make up both the roof and the walls. There is a built-in couch situated near the fireplace and countless windows that welcome sunlight from almost every angle. The residential furnishings, which are included in the sale, were also designed by Wright. These unique features include uniform trim, built-in shelving, and other furniture made from rare Philippine mahogany.
In an ideal world the Pappas House will become a place that everyone can enjoy. The community of Town and Country, Missouri, wants to preserve this piece of history for future generations. “We started the Frank Lloyd Wright Pappas House Foundation with the purpose of trying to raise the funds necessary to buy the house, preserve it and open it up to the public,” says Town and Country alderman Richard “Skip” Mange. “Our vision is to do this with a partnership with the city of Town and Country, which opens access to grant funds.” As of mid-May, the organization had raised just $800 – a far cry from the listed asking price of $1.2 million. Read more here.
Living with Nature: Historic Preservation
As the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation embraces more sustainable and innovative practices in their preservation work and beyond, they are sharing some of these methods and providing some tips on how you can incorporate these practices into your own life. In a recent Whirling Arrow article, they discuss the topic of historic preservation and share some of the innovative preservation techniques in use at Taliesin and Taliesin West.
"Historic preservation is all around us. From an older building that’s been restored and made into a coffee shop, to a historically significant space that has become a landmark; there are sites and spaces all over the country and the world that are utilizing sustainable preservation practices. At Taliesin and Taliesin West, historic preservation is at the core of everything we do." Read the entire article here.
Operetta In Exile At Unity Temple
Folks Operetta and the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation invite audiences to a powerful, one-night-only event, Operetta in Exile, to be held Thursday, July 11 at 7:30 p.m. This event is a look into some of the world’s finest operetta composers and librettists’ journeys and the music that resulted from their forced exile during the Third Reich.
Operetta, with its penchant for social satire and its disproportionate number of Jewish librettists, composers and performers, was bound to have a troubled relationship with the Third Reich. In this haunting and poignant concert, Folks Operetta examines the composers and librettists who were forced into exile or were persecuted and perished during the Third Reich. Many of these artists were mainstays of European theater for much of the early 20th Century. However, with the rise of the Nazi Party in the early 1930s, this once vibrant musical community was soon silenced. Over the last few years, there has been a growing interest in the music of classical composers who died during the Holocaust, but the story of the operetta composers who suffered the same fate remains largely unknown even though they were at the forefront in popularity at the time of the Third Reich. In this concert, Folks Operetta will lift the veil of silence from these forgotten voices.
Five singers, a narrator and a small chamber group perform works in this multi-media performance from Paul Abraham, Emmerich Kálmán, Jean Gilbert, Fritz Löhner-Beda, Fritz Grünbaum, Alfred Grünwald, Leo Ascher. Robert Stolz, Leon Jessel, Julius Brammer and Franz Lehár. Tickets range from $30 - $35. To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit utrf.org/programs. More info and tickets here.
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