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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.
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.
"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 ?
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.
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.
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
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]
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.
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
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.
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.