Nearly four years on the market, the Samuel-Novarro House has finally sold for about $3.5 million. Records reveal the buyer is an LLC tied to Sam Pritzker, a member of the multi-billionaire family that founded the Hyatt Hotel chain.
Built in 1928 for Hollywood silent film star Ramón Novarro’s personal secretary Louis Samuel, the cinematic house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son Lloyd Wright. Samuel forfeited the house to Novarro shortly following its completion — after he was caught embezzling funds from his boss — and the latter lived in the property well into the late 1930s. In the decades since, the home has had many famous occupants and/or owners, including Diane Keaton, Christina Ricci, composer Leonard Bernstein, and Jerome Robbins. Screenwriter Dale Launer picked up the property in 2014, for $3.8 million, before selling it to Pritzker at a hefty loss.
Though it’s arguably one of the most visually arresting homes in the greater L.A. area, the structure itself spans a relatively modest 2,690 square feet. Situated on an irregular lot, the four-story house has been extensively upgraded and renovated over the years, in a manner cohesive with Lloyd Wright’s original design. Inside, the place has a timeless indoor-outdoor flow, with a central living room that opens at one end to a dining room with casement windows and, at the other end, to a lounge with additional casement windows and doors connecting to a high-walled courtyard guarding a perfectly private swimming pool.
Elsewhere, an outdoor dining terrace is shaded by a vine-covered trellis, while the adjoining kitchen boasts crisp white cabinetry, inch-thick slab marble countertops and luxe stainless appliances. The top-level master bedroom boasts multiple banks of windows overlooking the surrounding treetops, and the austere master bath is done up entirely in concrete, with built-in concrete cabinetry and a concrete soaking tub. Other spaces include a lower level guest bedroom suite, plus an office with soaring glass windows that could function as a third bedroom. View the gallery here.
The StarTribune has an article featuring a problem encountered by many purchasers of historic homes. Meghan and Sean Elliott recently bought the E.L. Powers House, in Minneapolis’ East Isles neighborhood. One of the first collaborations by prominent architects William Purcell and George Elmslie, the 1910-built home is a prime example of Prairie School architecture, with well-preserved original features, including carved woodwork, art glass fixtures and decorative tile. However, the home did require a modern update.
“To the credit of all the owners before us, they were amazing stewards,” Meghan said. The kitchen, however, an oft-updated space in old houses, was “a quilted patchwork of remodels. There were three different countertops, several types of tile and three different cabinets from different eras. No one had ever done the whole thing. Our intention was for a unified design that was sympathetic to the architecture of the house.” Read the entire article and see the photos here.
After a temporary closure due to the pandemic, Graycliff Conservancy announces a private tour program beginning in August, with advance booking available now. In compliance with New York State’s mandated Phase 4 guidance, all tours will be restricted to a single household or safe social circle.“It’s been incredibly lonely on the property without guests and we are so ready to welcome you back!,” says Executive Director, Anna Kaplan. She continues, “I hope you’ll choose to spend an hour or two with us on our gorgeous lakeside property and that the experience will be an enjoyable and illuminating escape.”
Tours are priced for up to 4 people, with the option to add 2 more for a small additional charge. There will be both a Standard 1 hour tour, which visits the grounds and 1st floor of the Isabelle R. Martin House (main house), as well as an Extended Tour, which will also give guests the opportunity to view the upstairs of the main house. This will be the first time that private tours of this type have ever been available. Private tours start at only $100 and are now available to book at experiencegraycliff.org.
Membership perks for existing Graycliff members have been reworked and do include access, at many levels, to a complimentary private tour. Please contact Director of Operations, Ryan Gravell, by email at email@example.com, or by phone at (716) 947-9217 for full information and to book your member tour.
New COVID protocols have been implemented in compliance with mandated requirements to open, and to ensure the safety of all staff, volunteers, and visitors. Get all the information here.
A crown jewel of American architecture, Fallingwater was designed in 1935 by the American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh.
Fallingwater reopened on Saturday, June 13. Since closure in mid-March, Fallingwater has been preparing to reopen, albeit at reduced capacity. Fallingwater’s senior staff, has worked closely with leaders at local, regional and national cultural institutions to establish best practices to ensure everyone’s safety.
The safety protocols they have adopted reflect the unique needs of the Fallingwater site. As they resume operations with a modified schedule for outdoor experiences, visitors will be required to wear masks and physically distance, and they will require reservations to ensure visitation does not exceed 50% of the site’s capacity. Western PA Conservancy director and vice president Justin Gunther said,"While open to the public, to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, you must purchase a ticket and wear a mask."
Public tour manager Denise Miner said, “I’ve been here for over 30 years, and I still discover new things. Sometimes it is just standing in a new spot or a weather change, or a shadow, someone asking a question that I haven’t thought of before. So it is very exciting to learn and discover new things. It never becomes boring or old.”
If you want to come check out where nature and architecture become one, you can come to Fallingwater every day except Wednesdays. They are open from 9 to 5. For more information head over to Fallingwater.org. To see a short video, click here.
Frank Lloyd Wright book lovers are going to want to definitely make sure they get their copy of "Growing Up Wright," written by Lonnie Lovness and due out by the end of July 2020. The book tells the story of Lonnie's parents, Donald and Virginia Lovness, who built two Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes by hand, beginning in 1956. Although their friendship with Wright was brief—lasting only four years until his passing in 1959—he had a special fondness for his "do-it-yourself couple", as he liked to call the Lovnesses. In the following decades, the Lovnesses became very close to Mrs. Wright, immersing themselves into the Fellowship's activities and cultivating lasting friendships with Wes Peters, Aaron Green, John Howe, and others at Taliesin. They also emulated Frank Lloyd Wright in becoming ardent collectors of oriental art to complement their home's architecture. Don was instrumental in generating renewed interest in Wright's Midway Gardens (1914) by re-creating several concrete "sprite" sculptures from the lost masterpiece. Virginia was a close confidant of Wes Peters' wife Svetlana Alliluyeva (Stalin's daughter). The Lovness homes in Stillwater, MN became way-point rest stops for Taliesin architects and apprentices, and with other parts of the book, therein lies a great story. Of particular interest is the last chapter which documents the renovation of both homes in 2017, and building a third from Wright's 1958 plans on the property.
Both avid Frank Lloyd Wright fans and casual readers will enjoy the story of a young couple from modest backgrounds who created two beautiful homes and built a lasting connection with the Taliesin Fellows. Their two daughters' lives were distinctly shaped as well by life in a Usonian home, and the eldest daughter Lonnie describes that unique experience in this book. Follow the link to read and see more.