Goetsch-Winkler House STILL for sale !?

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Goetsch-Winkler House STILL for sale !?

Post by axelito »


How does one explain that the Goetsch-Winkler House is still for sale ?

It is considered as one of the better Usonian houses and the price is amazingly affordable compared to the other FLW houses on the market.

I live in Paris, France. For $398 000, I can barely buy a 70 square meter appartment...

Is it by a highway ? In serious disrepair ? Impossible to heat ? Too small by american standards ? ...

Thank you for your insight.


Ed Jarolin
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Post by Ed Jarolin »

That G-W is still on the market is probably due to the fact that it is

extremely small by contemporary American standards. Smaller than

most people's vacation homes. Small not only in square footage, but

also in number of rooms. I think you can safely rule out even a small

nuclear family as potential buyers. Of course, it was never intended for

a family with children. This is the two edged sword of custom design.

The universe of buyers is severely reduced.

Also, if one is interested in all the bells & whistles 398k can get you a

lot of them in Okemos. Most certainly a 3 or 4 bedroom house with

a family room, full basement and 2 or 3 car garage. Most people will

go for the place that can house all their stuff rather than the work of art.

I'm not saying I agree with it, but there it is.

As to the neighborhood and condition of the house. As I recall, it's in

a pretty nice neighborhood on a somewhat busy street (not a highway

by any means). When I last saw it, in 2001, it was looking a little the

worse for wear. However, judging by the photos, the current owners

have done quite a bit of work on it. Not a pristine restoration of the

caliber of Jacobs I, but it looks pretty good to me.

One last factor in this whole mix. The USA is currently experiencing

a downturn in the housing market and the state of Michigan is more

depressed than most areas. So a buyers market equals a longer wait,

or no sale, unless you're willing to drop the price.

Hope these musings are of help in answering your question.

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Post by SDR »

I admit to living in a place where the median home price passed $500,000 last year, so $398 k for a Wright Usonian seems like a steal -- but really, why hasn't a Wright fan taken this opportunity ?

"People who buy a Faberge Egg aren't planning to make an omelete. . ."

Incidentally, the magazine Old House Journal ran a piece in the early nineties on the re-roofing of Goetsch/Winkler. I never saw the article, as it had been excised from the copy at the library I was visiting ! Maybe somebody was doing a high school report on flat-roof technology ? :roll:


Ed Jarolin
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Post by Ed Jarolin »


I recall that Old House Journal article. Unfortunately I can't lay my

hands on it right now, as it's in storage somewhere.

Anyway, I seem to remember the following. The reroofing was with

some sort of synthetic rubber? material. Additional steel was added to

the roof structure, mainly or totally at the carport. The trellise openings

were covered over. The south wall (@the tall windows) was repaired:

it seems it was originally built with no structural continuity from slab to

roof, so the area where the windows sat on the brick was acting as a

hinge and buckling outwards. Last, but not least, the exterior wood was

sanded and refinished.

On this last item, I was surprised to see that the wood finish was

peeling already in 2001.

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Post by PNB »

I've wondered why its lasted this long too so I appreciated this post. Hands down for me one of my top 2-3 favorites. Wish I was in the market!

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Post by SDR »

Thanks for that, Ed. The roofing material was probably a "membrane" type, then; this is a continuous sheet of rubber-like substance, overlapped and "glued" at the seams. The first modern-house project on "This Old House" (in Cambridge, MA, shown earlier this year) had a demonstration of this, I believe. Or was it another TOH project ? Excellent for flat roofs, apparently.

I'm alarmed only that the trellis roof cut-outs would be "covered over"; does that mean they were made opaque, or were they turned into skylights ? Hmm. . . Glad to hear that steel was added; the photos of the brand-new structure, published in "Affordable Dreams" (the only monograph on the house ?) show already a slight sag to the carport cantilever, one of Wright's most daring. This can be seen in the interior shot that includes the kitchen, with carport roof beyond.

The G/W is a beaut, all right. It's one in which budgetary concerns restricted the ceiling to rectangles of plywood, as opposed to the boards which Wright would have preferred, if I'm not mistaken. Jacobs I may be the only instance in which this plywood ceiling was subsequently replaced with boards -- in a wonderful pattern -- by the original clients, when they could afford it.


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Post by Mobius »

Funny, the price quoted for GW is the exact same price it is costing me to build my Jacobs 1-derived home in New Zealand.

If I were resident in the USA - I'd buy it. No question.
How many escape pods are there? "NONE, SIR!" You counted them? "TWICE, SIR!"

*Plotting to take over the world since 1965

Ed Jarolin
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Post by Ed Jarolin »

Well, I suppose everyone loves a mystery and these posts about

Goetsch-Winkler raised some questions in my mind that I just had to

have answers to. So I proceded to root through several boxes of old

books and magazines until I found the long lost May/June 1990 issue

of Old House Journal. I also dug up some snapshots taken of the house in the summer of 2001.

Looking at the photos I noticed something just didn't look right. I couldn't see how the living room trellises fit into the small eave area I

was looking at. The magazine provided the answer. My recollection

of the openings being roofed over (noted in an earlier post) was in

error. Indeed, in a dubious cost saving move, they were simply removed

and not replaced. It seems a good deal of the eave framing was

rotted and this and the roof sheathing was removed and replaced. I

infer, though the article doesn't specifically state, that the trellises were

also rotted beyond repair.

To set the record straight on the repair of the south window wall: it was

buckling inward, not outward.

The roofing membrane used in the reroof was Duralast.

Hope this clears up a few things up, though the loss of both trellises is

rather unfortunate.

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Post by SDR »

So it's these two trellis sections (what DID Wright call these ?) that were simply removed ?


I'm shocked. I wonder if a subsequent restoration will re-create them. . .

Writght's woefully inadequate yet undeniably * detail at the edge of these Usonian flat roofs was simply to bend and insert the roll roofing of the day into a groove cut into the top edge of the wood roof fascia, probably with tar or other sealant. (I can't say if this was the method actually employed; this is what the Usonian Standard Detail Sheet shows, however.) This would inevitably invite rot and water penetration to progress from this groove. (Wright's willful naivetee at moments like this is just amazing to me, and was certainly the sort of thing which regrettably earned the distain of the architectural establishment.) I haven't noticed a Usonian restoration that didn't add the conventional flashing at this point, visible (unfortunately) as a band of metal, often painted, at the top edge of the fascia.

Thanks for finding that article ! SDR [/img]

outside in
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Post by outside in »

The Jacobs I restoration included a detail at the fascia that essentially "floated" the redwood 2 inches in front of the turned down metal edge strip, so that water drained behind the redwood edge. Nylon spacer blocks spaced 4'-0" o.c. were used to support the redwood fascia and provide the "slot" for drainage. Since the water drains behind the fascia, it stays clean, and there is little rot because of air circulation. Continuous screened soffit vents were installed to provide venting beneath the roof sheathing (above the insulation). This fascia detail was frequently used by Wright for similar reasons (disliking the appearance of the metal edge strip) back in his prairie school period. The original house had almost no insulation, and roof assemblies need to be re-engineered in order to accommodate contemporary needs - another reason to utilize the services of a good restoration architect.

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Jacobs I

Post by pharding »

That is an elegant detail on Jacobs I. On GW I am amazed that someone would remove an important architectural feature like the beautiful roof openings.

Why was Redwood used for the Jacobs I fascia? Was the original wood Redwood? I had assumed that the wood would be either Cypress or Phillipine Mahogany.
Last edited by pharding on Fri Nov 24, 2006 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
Paul Harding FAIA Owner and Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, the First Prairie School House in Chicago | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

Ed Jarolin
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Post by Ed Jarolin »

Great historic photo! Thanks for posting it, SDR. Yup, those are the

trellises (don't know if Wright used a different term) that were removed.

I stood in just about this spot to take a picture and these striking

elements were gone.

Certainly, to replace them will be a rather major undertaking now.

Again refering to the OHJ article, the trellis replacement was indicated

as an alternate on the reroof drawings. The alternate not taken. These

drawings show an 1 1/4" galvanized schedule 40 pipe at 4 ft. on center

(every other trellis member) which runs 8 feet into the roof structure

and would be attached to the roof framing. Rather easy to do with the

roof sheathing off, quite a bit harder now. I have no idea whether this

would have been a copy of the original support method or was something

the contractor came up with.

Regarding the fascia/cant strip detail. The article states that the detail

used in this reroof is a modification of that used in a 1950's reroof. Also,

noted is the reason for not reverting to the original Wright detail: it

exposes the top of the fascia to weather and rot. So the detail used is

a conventional 45 degree cant with a visible metal fascia. They did keep

the visible portion to a rather minimal 1 3/4".

I found the fact that Jacobs I used a plywood ceiling until the owner

could afford the boards most interesting. Do you know when this switch

was accomplished?

Ed Jarolin
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Post by Ed Jarolin »


Regarding Jacobs I, the wall materials were (and are) pine boards

with redwood battens. The California Redwood Association donated material for the restoration. I, therefore, presume that redwood was originally used for the fascia.

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Post by SDR »

That is an excellent detail, outside in, and one used elsewhere, including by Schindler in the late thirties. Thanks for the excellent description.

In re-reading Herb Jacobs's book on his two Wright houses, I find that Wright had wanted (as elsewhere) to use cypress for the first Usonian, but accepted pine and redwood as a cheaper alternative. As far as I can tell, this is the only instance of a "two-tone" Usonian wall. The earliest photos of the completed house -- such as those in the '38 Architectural Forum Wright issue -- have a delightfully pronounced stripe-y look. Jacobs mentions that Wright suggested a coat of linseed oil for the exterior, after the house was finished, though his previous statement to Jacobs was that "wood best preserves itself."

Jacobs discusses the board-and-batten ceiling on pp 60-62 of his book. There is one photo (p 43) of the living room with its initial finish, a fiberboard panel also used on the external roof undersides (eaves). It was Jacobs who suggested putting the same material on the ceiling as was used on the walls, apparently thinking it would be cheaper, if more labor-intensive (he installed it himself, with Katherine's help) than the plywood mentioned by Wright. The work was done in the fall and winter of 1939.


Ed Jarolin
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Post by Ed Jarolin »

There is a nice picture of the Standard Detail Sheet for Usonian Type

Houses circa 1940 in "Frank Lloyd Wright The Master Works". The

infamous fascia detail shows up here, though you might need a

magnifying glass to study it.

Also in this book are great pics of the restored Jacobs I. The wonderful

striped effect of the two wood board & batten is still quite evident.

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