The multi-million dollar restoration project of Samara, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home located in West Lafayette, IN is nearing completion, and the home is set to reopen to the public this spring. In addition to the nearly $2 million in renovations, Samara will also reopen under new full-time curator Nathan Allaire. Allaire succeeds Linda Eales, who retired after 20 years serving in various roles at the house. He previously worked at another Wright-designed property, Iowa’s Cedar Rock.
“We are excited to expand the Samara curator position to full-time and look forward to growing our tours and programming under Nathan’s leadership,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks.
The project included upgrades to the home’s electrical and HVAC systems, as well as repairs to the foundation, concrete, and brick driveway. Additionally, the project fixed structural supports to the overhanging eaves and refreshed finishes.
Indiana Landmarks says the year-long restoration project, which was spearheaded by Harboe Architects in Chicago and Indianapolis-based Brandt Construction, ensures that the home will be a “learning laboratory for the work of Frank Lloyd Wright well into the twenty-first century.”
In 2020, the National Park Service awarded Samara a $500,000 Save America’s Treasures grant to support the restoration efforts. The grant, along with private donations and funds from the John E. Christian Family Memorial Trust Inc., funded the project.
Indiana Landmarks says its staff is currently working to return the original Wright-designed furnishings to Samara and plans to resume public tours in the spring.
“By repairing rather than replacing materials, visitors will see the same home with its historic furnishings they have known for years,” Davis said. More here.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Boynton House: The Next Hundred Years, being shown on Jan. 29 at 7 pm - WOUB Public Media, provides an exclusive look inside the painstaking process of restoring and rehabilitating a historic home. Even today, the Boynton House – one of the few Frank Lloyd Wright creations still functioning as a private, single-family residence instead of a museum – stands out among the traditional Tudors and colonials that line the streets of its Rochester, New York neighborhood.
Built in 1908, the Boynton House exemplifies Wright’s signature “Prairie style,” with its gently sloping roofs, long bands of windows, wide overhangs, low terraces, private gardens, open floor plan and built-in furnishings. Over time, however, this national treasure fell into disrepair, ravaged by 100 years of weather, termites and wear-and-tear.
In 2010, new owners Fran Cosentino and Jane Parker set out to restore Boynton House to its original splendor, following Wright’s design concepts and architectural philosophy. Cosentino guides cameras through every phase of the transformation, including the restoration of art glass panels and cantilevered front porch, the replacement of the roof, the addition of a three-car garage and back porch, and the conservation of original furniture. More here.
Though his name often is understandably confused with that of his more famous father, Frank Lloyd Wright — lauded by the American Institute of Architects as the “greatest American architect of all time” — Southern California architect Lloyd Wright undeniably put his own unique design stamp on Los Angeles during a lengthy career that lasted until his death in 1978 at age 88.
Not only did FLLW’s eldest son work as a Tinseltown set designer — crafting the elaborate castle and 12th-century village sets for Douglas Fairbanks’ version of “Robin Hood” — but he also created two orchestra shells for the Hollywood Bowl. Most importantly, Wright is responsible for several notable early modern structures throughout the L.A. area., including the landmark Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes and neo-Mayan Sowden House in Los Feliz.
Making its presence felt as well is this one-of-a-kind structure Wright designed and built as his personal home and studio — where he oversaw construction of many of his father’s projects, including the Hollyhock House, and also developed his own practice — and the historic duplex recently popped up for sale in West Hollywood, asking a speck under $7 million as reported by Dirt.
Originally built in the late 1920s, but extensively restored in the ’90s by Wright’s son and FLLW’s grandson Eric Lloyd Wright — complete with a new foundation, as well as the replacement and repair of some blocks that had deteriorated over time — the two-story building last sold for around $4.4 million in winter 2021, and includes a main-level workspace and living quarters up top.
Tucked away on a corner parcel spanning almost an acre, the striking exterior boasts a beige-hued stucco facade accented by Wright’s signature interlocking concrete blocks featuring a Joshua tree motif. Inside, three bedrooms and two baths can be found in a little more than 2,400 square feet of living space that carries the block theme throughout.
Especially standing out downstairs is the cement-clad studio space, which opens to an enclosed patio spotlighted by a fountain and pre-Colombian statue that’s protected under a conservation easement by the Los Angeles Conservancy. Upstairs highlights include a fireside living/dining area sporting an indoor/outdoor alcove topped by a wood-and-glass ceiling, plus an updated kitchen outfitted with newer stainless appliances. Per the listing, there’s also a two-car garage. More here.
Speaking of Lloyd: The Joshua Tree Retreat Center he designed in the 1940s has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district as reported by Z1077. Covering 152 acres in Joshua Tree, the retreat center, also known as the Institute of Mentalphysics, was formally recognized as a historic place on January 17. The recognition affords the center, which includes a number of buildings, residences, outdoor sculptures, and even a restaurant, a number of federal and state protections. Many of the structures that make up the Joshua Tree Retreat Center are designed by notable architects, including 11 structures by Lloyd Wright. The designation as a Historical District ensures that the property and its structures cannot be demolished or redeveloped without a thorough environmental review. The historical designation also recognizes the cultural significance of the development.
The retreat center was originally envisioned as city dedicated to the alternative spiritual movement called “Mentalphysics,” as founded by Edwin John Dingle, later known as Ding Le Mei.
The Joshua Tree Retreat Center is a non-profit operation, and provides space and opportunities for local artists, businesses, and programs, in addition to offering opportunities for those visiting the desert. As a result of its historical designation status, the property may use the more flexible “State Historical Building Code” to restore the numerous onsite works that Dingle oversaw. JTRC plans to launch a capital campaign to restore and protect its unique structures. More here.
For John McIlwee, living in John Lautner’s Garcia House has been nothing short of life-altering. “It’s been empowering and substantial,” he tells Architectural Digest. An entertainment business manager, McIlwee and his partner, Bill Damaschke, bought the 1962 modernist masterpiece from Vincent Gallo in 2002, who told them the property would change their lives. McIlwee says it did. “John Lautner has kind of a cult following with people from all walks of life, so it’s been an amazing way to be part of a bigger collective world of art and architecture,” he says. Now, it’s time to pass the torch—or, better phrased, the keys—to a new owner.
Designed by the acclaimed American architect, who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright, the teardrop-shaped home is one of Lautner’s most recognizable works. Suspended 60 feet above Mulholland Drive on steel caissons, the property’s wall of windows provides unobstructed views of the canyon below. “The Garcia House is a notable architectural masterpiece that is renowned for its unique design, which seamlessly combines organic architecture with a modernist aesthetic,” Weston Littlefield, one of the home’s listing agents, says. The 2,596-square-foot home features three beds, three and half bathrooms, terrazzo flooring, a lava rock entryway, and a pool, which was added in 2008.
Built for Russell Garcia, a composer and arranger, the home not only has a unique architectural legacy, but also a Hollywood one. Previous owners—including Garcia, Gallo, and McIlwee and Damaschke—have worked in the film industry, and the house has even made its own big-screen appearances, most notably in Lethal Weapon 2 in 2011. “This is a true architectural masterpiece that is not only a functional home, but also a work of art,” Littlefield says. “The buyer should be someone who is not just looking for a house, but also a piece of history, a statement, and an opportunity to own something that is truly one-of-a-kind.”
The property—which is listed for $16,000,000—is represented by Littlefield, Aaron Kirman, and Dalton Gomez of AKG | Christie’s International Real Estate. According to the agents, the home is in great condition following an extensive restoration in 2012 overseen by Marmol Radziner. “It may sound corny, but the house really opened our minds to so many different cultural opportunities,” McIlwee adds. “I would tell the new owner to let the house be a vessel of creativity and to enjoy being part of the process. During our time there, we felt like we worked in tandem with the structure and creative design.” See it here.
Unity Temple Restoration Foundation (UTRF) is proud to be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023. UTRF is a secular, nonprofit organization, whose staff, board, members, and volunteers have worked tirelessly over the past fifty years to restore and preserve Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, a National Historic Landmark (1970) and part of a UNESCO World Heritage site (2019).
“Unity Temple is more than a place for worship: it is a museum that attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world; it is a venue for cultural and educational programming; it is a source of inspiration for artists, architects, and students; and it is an icon of modern architecture,” said UTRF Executive Director, Heidi Ruehle. “Moving forward, UTRF’s goals are to ignite a passion for the arts and community engagement, welcome people of all ages, abilities, and resources to experience Wright’s masterpiece, while raising funds to preserve one of the most important contributions to modern architecture.”
The roots of UTRF can be traced back to its founding in 1973 by volunteers dedicated to restoring and preserving Unity Temple. Over time, the organization evolved to promote architecture awareness and education through programs, tourism, and events, introducing diverse public audiences to Unity Temple and to the design principles that inspired this iconic masterpiece.
UTRF is celebrating its 50th anniversary every week throughout the year by highlighting 50 UTRF milestones, supporters, goals, and fun facts about its founding year of 1973 on its social media platforms - @flwunitytemple on Facebook and Instagram. A special webpage houses all this information and highlights special anniversary events including a fall fundraiser titled Symposium of Art, based on a 1908 event hosted by Frank Lloyd Wright at Unity Temple.
UTRF will also be hosting a stained-glass photo competition, encouraging 50 people to submit a photo of their favorite stained-glass windows from any building, with a panel determining the top 5 winning photos and resulting prizes. These and other details are available here.