Seeking Info on Abby Beecher Roberts House, Marquette, MI

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SWSinDC

Seeking Info on Abby Beecher Roberts House, Marquette, MI

Post by SWSinDC »

This little house in the woods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula for the mother of FLLW's housekeeper intrigues me, but I can find little or no information on it. Has anyone seen or visited it, or can even pinpoint its location in Marquette? Moreover, having been designed/built in 1936, does anyone have any thoughts on its place in the Usonian conceptual period of the mid-1930s? Thanks.

rgrant

Post by rgrant »

Roberts was John Lautner's mother-in-law, and I believe a granddaughter now owns the house, which is undergoing a gradual restoration. Stylistically it presages Alpaugh, Harper, Dobkins, etc. Among the extraordinary work of the 30s, Wright's best, it is something of an anomoly. It was the only house of the period built in that kind of environment, an area dominated by a dense growth of conifers, which can seriously limit the amount of light that makes it into the house. That probably accounts for the shed roof design, an approach that would not have worked so well for Pauson, Jacobs I or Auldbrass of the same era.



To find the location, enter the directions in Storrer into Yahoo, and you can get a map to the front door.

SWSinDC

Roberts House

Post by SWSinDC »

rgrant wrote:To find the location, enter the directions in Storrer into Yahoo, and you can get a map to the front door.


rgrant, thank you very much for the information. I have seen other references to finding the house via Storrer's directions. Unfortunately, I do not see such directions in my version of Storrer, which simply lists the house as being somewhere on County Hwy 492 in Marquette. Would you (or any other readers) happen to have a house number? Many thanks.

rgrant

Post by rgrant »

Storrer published a little-known booklet with explicit directions to each site. I will look up my copy and see what I can find out for you.

SWSinDC

Roberts House

Post by SWSinDC »

rgrant wrote:Storrer published a little-known booklet with explicit directions to each site. I will look up my copy and see what I can find out for you.


As long as I am in debt to you for that information, I may as well extend my account further and ask you for details on that booklet, as it would seem to be a must-have. Many thanks again.

SWSinDC

Re: Roberts House

Post by SWSinDC »

SWSinDC wrote:
rgrant wrote:Storrer published a little-known booklet with explicit directions to each site. I will look up my copy and see what I can find out for you.


As long as I am in debt to you for that information, I may as well extend my account further and ask you for details on that booklet, as it would seem to be a must-have. Many thanks again.


A little digging suggests that you may be referring to Storrer's "Guide to Extant Structures" (1991). I also see some suggestion that the Guide's maps and directions were incorporated into the third edition of Storrer's "A Complete Catalog" (2002). Is that accurate?

rgrant

Post by rgrant »

Dunno. I'll have to get back to you on that. I'm at my office. The booklet had rather crudely drawn maps with little information about the surrounding area. I doubt you will have much luck finding a copy. You might try J. B. Muns in Berkeley. If you go to Yahoo and bring up Marquette, you will see that it is a very small town. County road 492 breaks into Brookton Road and Wright Street at Brookton Corners on the west side of town. Betcha if you were to ask anyone at the corners where the FLW house is located, they could tell you. Nevertheless, I will see if the booklet has more explicit directions.

Guest

Post by Guest »

Thomas Heinz's FIELD GUIDE vol. 1 has a map and directions:



"West of the city. From Lake Superior take Route 28/41 west for 3 miles. Take the Route 492 exit and continue south for one block onto Brookton Road. Proceed 0.4 miles past the railroad tracks. The house is located before the second curve, on the east side of the road. Brookton Road is behind the commercial strip and the entry is difficult to locate."

rgrant

Post by rgrant »

Voila!

SWSinDC

Roberts House

Post by SWSinDC »

Thank you, Guest, whomever you are! I am still 1000 miles from Marquette, but I feel closer already. And thank you again, rgrant, for the information (especially correcting my horrible misreading of Storrer's reference to the Lautners as a reference to members of FLLW's house staff) and generous offer to provide more.



A final note: During the lunch hour, I stopped in at the bookstore and perused the architecture section. There I found "The Architecture of John Lautner," by Hess and Weintraub, which contains a brief but fascinating discussion of the Lautners joining the Taliesin Fellowship on Abby Beecher Roberts' dime (apparently, she was the heiress of a lumber fortune), and John Lautner's efforts to manage construction of Deertrack and, at the same time, manage the often-contentious working relationship between Roberts and FLLW, which naturally flowed from Roberts' insistence on fitting the square peg of a Broadacre model into the round hole of the Marquette terrain and climate.

guestnow

Post by guestnow »

I visited it once around 10 or 15 years ago. At the time, it was shabby, but unmistakably Wright.



It was kind of hard to find, with winding down a narrow dirt road through woods. Right near the house was what I call "Volksylvania": a densely wooded area with a lot of VW bugs quietly rusting away between the trees.

apboy2

Storrer

Post by apboy2 »

SWSinDC,

Yes, the maps in our well-traveled, dog-eared, Slurpee-stained 'Guide to Extant Structures' are reproduced in 'The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.' Although we're dedicated architecture dilettantes, we could never bring ourselves to pop for the 'FLW Companion' in book or CD-ROM form. We highly recommend the more reasonably priced 'Architecture of ... ' for amateurs like ourselves who can get by without floor plans and trenchant Storrerisms.

MD
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 1:02 pm
Contact:

Post by MD »

The house is situated here:

TerraServer-USA image

Google map

mwindsand
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:48 pm

Post by mwindsand »

I live within 10 miles of the Abby Beecher Roberts House. With the directions from the Wright Chat I will try to locate the house soon. We just had another big snow storm, so it won't be today. How exciting, I didn't know there was a Frank Lloyd house so close.

Palli Davis Holubar
Posts: 1036
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:14 am
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

Post by Palli Davis Holubar »

mwindsand- When you do view the house, please check for me if there are any perforated boards. Published images do not indicate it but there is scant consideration for perfs on many houses. Do you have access to the Monographs? If so, check the page before you go for orientation to eah facade, if possible. If you can't get to the Monographs , ask one of us to post it for you.

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