Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

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jay
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by jay »

Oh wow.... I got tingles reading the last section of that essay...!

Tracing the distinct experiential quality of spatial art that balances refined and wild Nature––which is best found in Olmsted and Wright––has been an ongoing obsession of mine.... Mr. O'Gorman's essay and his suggestions regarding Richardson opens up a much clearer path between them.

Thanks so much for posting the entire essay, SDR.

While reviewing the Richardson-Olmsted collaboration of the Thomas Treat Paine House, aka "Stonehurst", we may have the best example of this design "theory" seen in both Olmsted and Wright.... and in which Richardson's role is perhaps both clear and limited.

It begins with Olmsted's approach to the house. These dozen or so photographs are captioned with Olmsted quotes that show a sequence nearly identical to Wright's ideal approach:
http://stonehurstwaltham.org/virtual-walk-with-olmsted
From the mysterious and wooded drive, which encounters the home from an angled perspective that creates depth (as opposed to the classical centered perspective), to a house that is anchored with stone but begins to dematerialize on its exterior with the lighter shingles... we find the structure itself blocking any view of open expansion.
Then, on the other side of the home––the sunny southern side––the house releases with balconies and broad terraces, out to a wide beautiful expansive Nature vista.

Yet while the grounds and facade give one distinct impression, it's debatable how effective the interior spaces carry on this impression.
http://stonehurstwaltham.org/new-gallery-1
Richardson's space is certainly pleasant, a warm and sheltered lodge. But, in my opinion, it's not until Wright that the full sweep of exterior through the interior, and back out to the exterior, becomes one symbiotic spatial experience.

SDR
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by SDR »

Last edited by SDR on Sat Dec 26, 2020 2:54 pm, edited 4 times in total.

SDR
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by SDR »

Stonehurst: Image

Bradley: Image

Gamble: Image

SDR
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by SDR »

A project from c. 1880, a house in Boston for Oliver Ames. I haven't seen another cruciform residential plan from Richardson.

Image

SDR
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by SDR »

The developed plan of the Ames house, and description of interior finishes taken from the drawing.

The kitchen apparently in the basement, connected to the dining room by a winding stair; this presumably re-thought, judging by the crossed-out walls. Wright would have liked the orderly plan, and the "free-standing" double fireplace ?


Image

Image

SDR
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by SDR »

Martin plan, 25 years later. The Ames project was not published---and in any event seems out-of-the ordinary for Richardson. "Great minds thinking alike" ? Wright certainly wastes less room on extravagances like a grand stair---and his plan is of course a good deal more open. Both plans employ symmetries modified as necessary to suit (literally) eccentric functionality.


Image

jay
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by jay »

Good news out of Brookline.... The demolition has been delayed for 18 months:
https://www.archpaper.com/2020/12/hh-ri ... -fajrM6V_w

Article has some good recent photographs.... also floats the idea of making the homes a nucleus of a historical district:



"“It was no accident that John Charles Olmsted chose the house next door to 25 Cottage Street, then the home and studio of H. H. Richardson, for his residence,” McCarthy said. “The location, just down the street from Frederick Law Olmsted’s own home and studio, was at the center of a vibrant neighborhood of architects actively engaged in reshaping the city landscape in Boston and across the country. It was H. H. Richardson, a friend and colleague of Frederick Law Olmsted from their days living in Staten Island, who introduced his father to the idea of living in Brookline.”

...

Now that there’s a demolition delay, several attendees suggested that the three houses could be the nucleus for a new local historic district in Brookline. They noted that the houses already tell the story of Brookline’s growth over time, as reflected by three very different architectural styles.

McCarthy acknowledged that creating a local historic district is an idea worth exploring. But, she said, Brookline generally wants the impetus for creating a local historic district to come from property owners themselves, rather than the preservation commission.

“It is really quite challenging to think of any neighborhood with a comparable pedigree,” said Anne Neal Petri, president and CEO of the National Association for Olmsted Parks."

DavidC
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by DavidC »


Roderick Grant
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by Roderick Grant »

Tina McCarthy was correct to suggest that the impetus for creating the historic district come from the surrounding home owners rather than preservationists. If that massive mansion across the street is still a private home, the owners would most likely not be pleased with a non-residential establishment moving into their neighborhood. Money always has the loudest voice.

jay
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by jay »

"Homeowners" complain about every minor 'nuisance' that happens on their street. And as a "group", homeowners move on average once every ten years. (Perhaps Brookline sees longer residencies than that.) I'd imagine it's better to get the 'neighborhood' on board––and hopefully the local homeowners are indeed supportive of creating a 'historic district'––but it seems ridiculous to me to put the fate of these homes into the hands of the local homeowners who, statistically speaking, won't even be there in 20 years.

SDR
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by SDR »

I wonder how many noticed this endnote to O'Gorman's essay posted on the previous page:

Image

SDR
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by SDR »

Thanks for posting Sever Hall, David. Those color photos tell the story perfectly; the (nearly) monochrome treatment of the building is one of its most endearing qualities. Here's what James O'Gorman has to say, and show, in the two books already quoted in the thread.


Image

Image
Image


This heroic elevation drawing fails to fully communicate the essence of the building as seen on the ground. I suppose what is missing, aside from the rich color experience, is that the forms are flattened (naturally) where they should be expressed, while paradoxically the wonderful flush surfaces are delineated literally, robbing them of that flatness;

Image
Image

Image

SDR
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by SDR »

"Openings are organized into continuous horizontal zones, and these are echoed by the decorative belt courses, the water table, the eave, and the roof ridge." "So, for example, the dormer on the Quincy Street side of the roof is pulled into one long horizontal . . . the molded chimneys are broad and squat, barely rising above the ridge."

O'Gorman might have been thinking of FLW, another favorite subject for him, when he wrote thus; mightn't we as well ?

S

SDR
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by SDR »

Happy New Year to all . . .


One can learn something from a comparison of the two images of Sever Hall, just above: the difference between a two-dimensional, flat image of a building, and a naturalistic three-dimensional view of the built structure. In the elevation drawing we see that the portion of the building above the eave line is not much less than half the total height of the building, while in the photographic view that great hipped roof, thanks to the laws of perspective, is greatly diminished in size---in apparent height, and bulk. And we can imagine that, the closer to the building we stand, the more the roof shrinks, until at a certain point it disappears from view altogether.

Alternatively, the further we move from the building, the more the roof becomes visible, until finally, at an infinite distance away, the structure and the elevation drawing become synonymous.

We can expect that the architect, whose job it is to make a building, not a drawing, is fully aware of this phenomenon and takes it very much into consideration when devising and adjusting his design.

S

Roderick Grant
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Re: Article: H. H. Richardson Home set to be demolished - Brookline, MA

Post by Roderick Grant »

A Richardsonian building of grace and beauty that hasn't had much notice is Pillsbury Hall at the Univ. of MN, designed by Harvey Ellis (an associate of Leroy Buffington). Although it is not quite so severe as Sever, it is a handsome "cousin" of HHR's work. Unfortunately, as is often the case with old school buildings that cannot be torn down, the interior has been rethought in a severely modernist style completely divorced from the exterior.

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