The Levin House, Parkwyn Village

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SDR
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Post by SDR »

Along those lines, I'd like to know how well the three-ply partition, erected between the second and third bedrooms, acts as an acoustic barrier.

If the steps were built as drawn, they have sixteen-inch treads and 4-inch risers, resulting in a slightly longer stride than is normal. How do those steps feel ? Was Mr Levin a tall man ?

The playroom extension is apparently an inline addition to the study. If so, the demarkation is invisible, with a perfect match of materials. Nicely done . . .

SDR

outside in
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Post by outside in »

I think the stairs certainly fit in the old formula - 2R+T = 24-26, so its probably very comfortable.

I was in the house a few years ago talking to the owners. They went through an extensive floor restoration campaign, and the results are great! Nice House!

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Richard, the apprentice in charge of construction was John Geiger, whose archive is at the University of Minnesota. He was the one who added the large skylight in the kitchen, which was inadequately illuminated by the narrow windows.

SDR, the drawing of the chair indicates a plywood slab (as clearly shown in the plan) with perfs as the front support, not stick legs.

The entrance steps are very comfortable to negotiate.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

There seem to be competing formulae. My old source:

Ramsey and Sleeper, Fourth Edition (1932-55), p 56: "Another rule commonly used is: -- Run + Riser = 17 1/2. "

"Table of stair proportions using Formula R over T + Tan (R-3) 8º ":

Riser 5 1/4", Tread 16.2" (Formula devised by Jamieson Parker, AIA)

Another formulation I've heard is Two risers + One tread = 25", similar to John's.


I'm happy to hear that the entry stair feels good. Naturally, one's height, or length of leg, figures into the mix.

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

2R+T=25" (interior) or 26" to 27" (outside).

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Thank you. Interesting that the exterior stair should be a bit more robust in scale than the interior one. Boots or snowshoes, perhaps -- or Yetis expected for dinner ?


I misread the chair; here are the erroneous and the (I believe) correct readings. Note that the back is a T shape . . .



Image Image


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DRN
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Post by DRN »

Welcome Richard.
...does anyone know if my parents are the only original owners of a Wright home who also lived in a home built by one of the Wright apprentices?
The VanTamelen's who lived in an FLW Erdman Prefab #1 moved to California and bought the house Aaron Green designed for the Hughes family.

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

If I am looking at the plans correctly, it appears that the carport is 28 feet deep and 12 feet wide.
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

SDR
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Post by SDR »

. . . or, 12 feet deep and 28 feet wide ? Room has been left at the end for access to the entrance, I believe.

SDR

Richard A Levin
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Post by Richard A Levin »

Thank you all who have posted on this subject. You have provided me with information about the house that is new to me. Regarding the question about the Winn family background: I gave incorrect information. From some Parkwyn Village archival information it seems that there were three children. Two were much older than me, so I was not aware of them.
Regarding the dining room table chair, although the table was built, the chairs never were. The first few years in the house inexpensive folding chairs were used around the table, and then in later years some walnut veneer chairs were purchased. The porch with the iron trellis was a screened porch with a plastic roof. Originally it was to be an open porch, but to protect the family from the elements and insects the screen and roof were built. Regarding this, my mother related that when approaching Mr. Wright on this request and given a stern refusal, Mrs. Wright intervened and said something along this line, "You know, Frank, not everyone is not bothered by mosquitoes." The plastic roof would have to be cleaned yearly to remove mold build-up. The porch was used extensively, weather permitting. We BBQ'd and ate on the porch, entertained on the porch, and when very warm, as the house had no A/C, we kids would sleep out there.
Regarding the front steps, even as young children we had no difficulty going up and down them. As to their depth, when looking at pictures, it seems that the depth matches the size of the bordering cement blocks. No, my dad was not a tall man! He stood about 5'10". As far as where you can see a picture of the entranceway, I believe there is one in the Wikipedia article of the house. I believe it also is shown as part of the Levin Frank Lloyd Wright memoir that can be found on You Tube, the presentation my parents gave at the 2000 Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The Wikipedia article and the talk are two excellent sources for Levin House info.
In answering what my favorite part of the house was, I would have to say that the it was the living room/dining room area. It is where entertaining was done. The bench seating was where I, siblings, cousins, and friends would sleep when we had a lot of company staying over, and I would give up my room to a visiting guest. The living room planter above the largest bench seating had extensive orange, tangerine, and lemon trees that did produce a large amount of fruit. When my brother was 2 years old the local Kalamazoo paper posted a picture of him holding a lemon that was about the size of a softball! Like many Wright homes, our living room had a grand piano in it. I did not play, but my three siblings did. Mrs. Brown, whose Wright house was next door to ours, was one of my siblings' piano teachers. The fireplace was used extensively. We used it to pop popcorn and roast marshmellows. A funny story about the fireplace: because of the proximity to two lakes, I enjoyed catching wildlife and bringing it home, turtles included. One of the turtles must have laid her eggs in the fireplace, because one year several baby turtles crawled out of the fireplace, much to my mother's dismay!
Another part of the house I really liked was the cement blocks with cut out space covered by glass. They were very beautiful when the sun shown through, and as a kid I enjoyed watching from a distance all the insect activities that went on between the glass. I also really liked the yard and grounds around the house. A lot of fruit trees were planted, and I enjoyed eating the fruit off of them, particularly the pear trees. Also, we had a good sized garden behind the house on the hill overlooking the lake, and my dad had great success with all types of vegetables. He particularly excelled at pumpkins. A lot of wildlife came calling, from squirrels, chipmunks, and foxes, to songbirds, hawks, bobwhites, and a lot of pheasant. So many pheasants would fly into the windows and glass doors of the house, and either injure themselves or kill themselves that eventually my parents put stickers on the glass of things like snakes and owls to scare them away. Least favorite space in the house was the small cellar under the kitchen. During the Cuban Missile Crisis it was to be our bomb shelter. It had one small window, and my father placed sandbags on the outside by the window. Cots, sleeping bags, and appropriate rations, were stored there. Don't remember any toilet preparations! The space was quite small. Tools were stored there with a small workbench, and the washer/dryer were also there, as my mother did not want them in the kitchen.
Regarding weather issues: very cold during the winter, and hot during the summer. When cold, we appreciated the radiant heat, and liked walking around in our stocking feet. On hot summer days, even with all the windows and doors open, the breeze that this produced did not make much of a dent in keeping us cool. Snowfall was so significant that we constantly had to get on the roof to shovel off the snow. We enjoyed jumping off the roof onto the snowbanks. Yes, the house leaked! The worst leakage was around the fireplace and the area between the living room and porch. In that area the leaking was so bad we would have to raise up the bottom of the curtains off the floor so they would not get water damage.
Let me leave you with a funny Wright story, not about my family, but about Mrs. Brown. This is also from the Parkwyn archives. When Mr. Wright came to inspect the construction of their home Mrs. Brown fixed him breakfast. Someone told her that he loved pancakes, so that is what she made. A couple of days after Mr. Wright's return to Taliesin the Browns got a call from Mr. Wright's secretary, calling about the pancakes. Mrs. Brown's initial thought was that the call was to thank her and maybe ask for the recipe. Quite the contrary: the call was to inform her that Mr. Wright came down with food poisoning, and was very upset!

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Thanks for all that, Richard. I hadn't realized there was a Wikipedia complete "List of Frank Lloyd Wright works." Now we can all peruse it and look for errors!

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Thanks, Richard. So, the glazed blocks have glass in both the interior and exterior halves of the block ? Guess I hadn't thought about that. Did you see flying insects inside ?

Wright's bench seating serving as overflow beds -- hadn't considered that, either. Some of these have flat seats, while in other houses they are sloped. The flat ones would be better for sleeping, I guess.

Indoor fruit trees, bearing fruit ! What I don't know about plants would fill . . . an arboretum.


There are Wikipedia pages for many of Wright's houses, though perhaps not for all. Here's the one for the Levin residence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_an ... evin_House

While the author(s) aren't identified, there are seven sources cited, including the Levins themselves. The page was last edited 10 January 2018.

SDR

Richard A Levin
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Post by Richard A Levin »

The Wikipedia article was created by my niece, Hannah Levin, with assistance from her father, Dr. James Levin. Regarding flying insects, they were primarily house flies. On the worst days we would kill in the dozens.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Thanks. I was reacting to this: ". . .as a kid I enjoyed watching from a distance all the insect activities that went on between the glass. . ."

I was also curious about the acoustic privacy issue (if any): how effective was the wood-sandwich wall between bedrooms in that regard ?

SDR

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

On page one of this thread, Mr. Levin mentioned the Winn House:
Of the three other Wright Home families my smallest amount of contact was with the Winns.
This rainy weekend, having not been there in a while, I spent some time in our local art museum in Atlanta. Like lots of museums in various cities, we have a small flock of FLW furniture (& one of the ever-present Coonley Playhouse windows. The star of our little show is the only original SC Johnson desk/chair to be sold out of SC Johnson hands (for some charity cause awhile back).)

But, on this visit the thing that caught my eye is this Usonian lounge chair from the Winn House. Interestingly, it appears to have been upholstered in one of the Schumacher fabrics. It's my understanding that the Schumacher fabrics were introduced in 1955. Since the chair is dated 1950, obviously this fabric isn't original. There's a note on the signage that attributes the upholstery to a donor (as late as 1985?).
It's a thing of rough beauty up close - subtle geometry & joinery and pleasing proportions. On display, it sits between a dainty Imperial Hotel dining chair and an upright-ish, single-legged Price tower chair, so the Winn chair seems sturdy & muscular & relaxed in comparison. Note the careful orientation of the Schumacher fabric to take advantage of the geometry in its patterning.

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Image [/quote]

The donation of the Schumacher upholstery is interesting. I Googled "Martha Cade" and garnered this information in her obituary. She was an interesting lady, it seems. Much of her design pedigree seems to concern more historic/traditional subject matter, so it's a little fascinating that she provided this bit of finesse to our Usonian chair:

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