Martin House Complex Birdhouse Garden Sculpture

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chen1947
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:09 pm

Martin House Complex Birdhouse Garden Sculpture

Post by chen1947 »

I just run across this the other day on the Martin House website.

http://martinhouse.org/shop_details.cfm ... 1210115279

This really interested me and appears to be an exact replica of the bird houses designed for the Martins.

Has anyone seen this replica in person?

SDR
Posts: 19451
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Martin House Complex Birdhouse Garden Sculpture

Post by SDR »

Not yet. But I well recall the first time I focussed on these birdhouses, in a particularly crisp and well-composed if mysterious photo in "In the Nature of Materials." What a great assembly of brick, stone, tile, wood and glass ! . . . but what were those things on the roof ?

Image

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10197
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: Martin House Complex Birdhouse Garden Sculpture

Post by Roderick Grant »

As I understand it, the birds never took to the birdhouses. As interesting as the constructions are, they aren't very "bird-like."

SDR
Posts: 19451
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Martin House Complex Birdhouse Garden Sculpture

Post by SDR »

I wonder if many or most birds prefer the tight entry hole found in many birdhouses. Perhaps a bird who likes Wright's open-air, inside-outside, commune-with-nature picture-window openings isn't found anywhere near Buffalo ?


Aerial photos of the restored complex do indeed show a quartet of these "birdhouse sculptures" in place. https://imgur.com/a/aXOxQ

Wright's elevations drawings show a single example, aswarm with birds---or, on a companion elevation, a planter dish in its place. (The aerial photos reveal another satisfying detail: all around both houses, inverted-pyramid rainwater receptacles can be seen set in the ground beneath the corners of roofs.)

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An 1908 Henry Feurmann photo shows the short sides of the birdhouses; the second pair can just be seen beyond the roof.

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In a 1970 Blathazar Korab photo, a single birdhouse is seen repositioned as a low ornament to the landscaping on the street side of the house

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A Yukio Futagawa photo seen in Monograph 2 (1987) likewise shows not one but two of them, there. This photo gives what is likely the best close-up view of these original pieces; the stone seems to have taken on a pale golden tint at this point. The twin rows of raised squares on the birdhouses is matched on the planter dishes by similar rows, these indented rather than raised.

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A color photo found online shows a birdhouse perched in its proper place, atop a pier of stone and brick, offering a suggestion of an appropriate means of mounting and displaying the available copy, indoors or out: a replica pier or plinth of the correct material and hue ?

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© 2020, Martin House Restoration Corporation.

Illustrations © 2009 by TASCHEN GmbH, © 1986 A.D.A. EDITA Tokyo Co., Ltd. and by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

chen1947
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:09 pm

Re: Martin House Complex Birdhouse Garden Sculpture

Post by chen1947 »

Thank you for sharing such wonderful photos and close ups. You can really tell from the close up photos that the replica looks very much like the original.
I might have to think about adding one to the collection. I wonder if birds here in Texas would find this type of house to their liking.

SDR
Posts: 19451
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Martin House Complex Birdhouse Garden Sculpture

Post by SDR »

You could research that.

I'm going to suggest that the replica is one-half full size, based on the sketched-over image on Wright's elevation drawing. That drawing contains a clue: at left is the measurement 3'-9", the height of an opening, and it makes the birdhouse roughly four and a half feet or a bit more. The replica is 2'-4" high.

S

chen1947
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:09 pm

Re: Martin House Complex Birdhouse Garden Sculpture

Post by chen1947 »

You have such a good eye, I didn't catch that dimension. Im sure you right. Thank you for all your feedback.

SDR
Posts: 19451
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Martin House Complex Birdhouse Garden Sculpture

Post by SDR »

A full-sized replica of the birdhouse---or two, or four---would require a garden larger than many can claim as their own, perhaps; the reduced size makes sense for the average home-owner's purposes. Remember that the Martin house complex is a pretty large-scale affair---and that one couldn't get very close to the original birdhouses because they were a story-and-a-half in the air.

I can imagine a garden layout with an allée arranged between a pair of low stone-capped brick walls---exactly the shape of the twin walls of the conservatory that rise above the roof at Martin---with four of these replicas placed in the appropriate places at the ends of those walls. Planting beds on each side, perhaps, leading on through the garden to a pool, a seating area, or a wooded glade. Or maybe the walls could be moved far enough apart to serve as the frame of a patio or terrace, with the bird-houses again placed at its corners. Could these replicas be fitted with concealed light fixtures, turning them into garden lanterns ?

S

chen1947
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:09 pm

Re: Martin House Complex Birdhouse Garden Sculpture

Post by chen1947 »

Having it at half scale surely makes it easier to ship. A full scale model would be impossible to economically ship. Like you said they are at a more appropriate scale for most homeowners.

I also think a smaller version would be successful.

I wonder if you could put candles inside? Maybe the holes are big enough to stick your hand trough to be able to place and lit candles. They would look beautiful at night. Either way I think you could have concealed lighting installed. They remind me very much of the Japanese lanterns you see in gardens so they idea for lighting seems appropriate.

I have also thought that if Wright had the access to all the types of lighting we have today he would have used it.

You could even have a tea house in the garden with a birdhouse at every corner.

I very much like your suggestions for layout. They would look wonderful in any of those arrangements.

It might look nice inside the house as piece of sculpture.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10197
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: Martin House Complex Birdhouse Garden Sculpture

Post by Roderick Grant »

When Edgar Tafel worked on the house, he placed the surviving bird houses in the front of the house. The pergola, conservatory, and garage had been demolished and replaced by apartment houses by that time. Half scale sounds right. I saw them in '85, and no way were they only 2'4".

As functional bird houses, I doubt any martin would have given them a second thought. The material and the lack of security would probably have made them uninhabitable. Most likely FLW knew that, and wanted them to remain empty and clean.

At Ennis, the master bath structure is 18'8" (14 blocks) tall. The interior ceiling height is only 8'. Above is attic space never intended to be accessible, but which has an opening 16"x48". Wouldn't it be wild to fix that up as an aerie for a falcon? It could feed on the massive flocks of pigeons that fill the skies of Los Angeles and decorate the land below.

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