Article: 'Lesser known FLW creations hiding in plain site'

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DavidC
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Location: Oak Ridge, TN

Article: 'Lesser known FLW creations hiding in plain site'

Post by DavidC »


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

Re: Article: 'Lesser known FLW creations hiding in plain site'

Post by SDR »

Nice photos of Wright structures, annotated with some unusual descriptions and the occasional incorrect history. Perhaps the most peculiar: https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/realest ... ue#image=6

In that photo, what could be the function of the twin towers we see atop the house ?

S

Reidy
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Location: Fremont CA

Re: Article: 'Lesser known FLW creations hiding in plain site'

Post by Reidy »

Some images show the octagonal mass rising three block courses above the roof line, about the height of the curious metal structures. My guess is that they are part of some restoration effort.

Undated

Drawing

DRN
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Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Re: Article: 'Lesser known FLW creations hiding in plain site'

Post by DRN »

The metal boxes are protective covers for block chimney flues which project above the parapet. Originally, there was a partial octagonal parapet between the two flues connecting them.

The exterior wythe of blocks at Freeman is literally dissolving in the weather. I suspect the solution to preserving the house is to build an enclosure over and around the house, remove the exterior wythe of blocks, and replace them with newly cast block that is less porous, but with the original’s color and texture....easy peasy!.....he says with a note of sarcasm.

This is great house that needs help, but the cost to solve its problems is beyond the means and wherewithal of its current owner. A benevolent corporate donation or billionaire? Anyone, anyone?

SDR
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Re: Article: 'Lesser known FLW creations hiding in plain site'

Post by SDR »

I am gaining new insights and learning new facts---new to me, that is---in reading Donald L Johnson's "On Frank Lloyd Wright's Concrete Adobe" (2013; 2016), which covers the four constructed Textile Block houses in Los Angeles and the work on Olive Hill of the same period. The composition of the block is touched upon:

(p 39) ". . . Byron Vandergrift, who occasionally worked for Lloyd Wright as a laborer and draftsman, made some of the [Freeman] blocks and tiles on site. He later recalled that: 'I used to have to carry cement and sand from where they'd dump it on the street [and] then mix it by hand . . . They had a small sledge hammer . . . and we put a two-by-four block on the sixteen-inch-square thing and pounded it down . . . [Lloyd] showed me how much stronger the blocks got if you watered them a couple of times a day for three weeks.' "

(It is interesting, in that light, to learn, on page 44, that for the Barnsdall kindergarten or Playhouse over 7500 precast tiles were produced---and 226 of them installed---before construction was halted---eleven days after it had commenced !)

Johnson discusses the prevailing modes of precast concrete work at that period, distinguishing between the use of a wetter "slurry" and a dryer mix of concrete in making molded parts. He also goes into the equipment available at the time, including various devices for compressing the material after it had been placed in a mold.

(P 47) "Between 1904 and 1910 in the United States alone there was an annual average of thirty-four patents pending for concrete blocks, their chemical composition, or mold apparatuses for producing them. In 1912 you could purchase clinkers of incinerated garbage to use as an aggregate to mix with Portland cement . . . As well, there were compaction machines that Wright or son could have used or modified. Instead they relied on hand tamping a rather dry slurry with a block of wood and a mallet."

S

Roderick Grant
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Re: Article: 'Lesser known FLW creations hiding in plain site'

Post by Roderick Grant »

The problem with the Los Angeles/Pasadena blocks is that the aggregate was decomposed granite on site, which had too much rotted flora and too little sand. Whoever the contractors for the four projects were, obviously the better ones were those in charge of Storer and Millard. Freeman and Ennis blocks have suffered the lion's share of disintegration. By the late stages of construction of Freeman, all the professional workers had left, and only a high school student was making and installing blocks. He kept meticulous records of his experience, which should be in the Barnsdall archive.

The lack of rain in Southern California has helped prevent Freeman from dissolving entirely. But as we all know:
"It never rains in California, but girl don't they warn ya / It pours, man it pours."
The massive rains of '95 did considerable damage to both Freeman and Ennis. At one point, Freeman was covered entirely by a large, boxy frame and canvas. I don't know what was going on underneath, but it emerged no better than it had been. USC should look for a buyer who could afford to reconstruct the house and save it. The university has been a neglectful steward. DD Martin was in a similarly desperate state when SUNY Buffalo was the steward, and it remained problematic until the restoration effort finally took over. We need a similar effort here.

SDR
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Re: Article: 'Lesser known FLW creations hiding in plain site'

Post by SDR »

Johnson, p 39, on Freeman: "After years of neglect by USC [to whom Harriet Freeman had bequeathed the house] and the effects of annual earthquakes that shifted footings and foundations, funds from the Getty Conservation Institute, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Los Angeles Conservation, and other donors, were forthcoming during 2000 and 2001. Those funds insured a very expensive "seismic retrofit" that included deep concrete caissons beside and under parts of the house, a long deep retaining wall on the roadside, and replacement of thousands of crumbled concrete blocks [sic]."

S

SDR
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Re: Article: 'Lesser known FLW creations hiding in plain site'

Post by SDR »

Isometric of the Freeman house showing original chimney condition, among much else.


Image

Roderick Grant
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Re: Article: 'Lesser known FLW creations hiding in plain site'

Post by Roderick Grant »

I hadn't heard of the extent of the post-Northridge earthquake (1994) stabilization efforts. Still, when one goes up to the house, it doesn't look any better than it did after the rains of the following year,

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