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Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:53 pm
by JimM
For what it's worth, I recall an article in Architectural Digest where Owings' wife talked about him designing it. For me, not a square inch of it indicates that possibility, especially the detailing. It's a stretch to think he would suddenly turn into a weekend organic architect.

He most likely told her he designed it!

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:52 pm
by pharding
JimM wrote:For what it's worth, I recall an article in Architectural Digest where Owings' wife talked about him designing it. For me, not a square inch of it indicates that possibility, especially the detailing. It's a stretch to think he would suddenly turn into a weekend organic architect.

He most likely told her he designed it!
I take exception to that statement. An architect of his stature would never abdicate design responsibility for his own home. He may have let someone else detail it and deal with the local regulatory agencies and monitor construction. The author of the project can only be Nate Owings.

Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:46 pm
by dkottum
This book seems to shed some light on the involvement of Mills at Wild Bird, looking at the (partial) text and photo of a similar house by Mills. Wish I had the book. ... gs&f=false

Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:12 pm
by Roderick Grant
The A-frame by Mills in Carmel was originally a pristine, tiny house for a bachelor, but was subsequently enlarged to over 4,000 sf. I don't know who did the alterations. The house shown with the cat sleeping on the living room rug plus the two following photos is the house in Carmel Mills designed that has a roof made up entirely of 2" x 3" boards butted together and finished with sheet aluminum on the exterior. A three-inch thick roof! And no ridge beam!

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:17 pm
by pharding
Laurie Virr wrote:Mr Paul Harding:

I think you would have to agree that Louis Henri Sullivan was an architect of substance, yet when he desired to build a house for himself at Ocean Springs, Mississippi, he gave the problem to FLLW, and credited him with the design.....
I am not aware of any instance of Louis Sullivan crediting FLW for the design of his cottage at Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Perhaps someone could enlighten me. FLW may claimed design credit after Louis Sullivan passed away. However FLW was habitually prone to tell whoppers about his role on projects while he worked at Adler and Sullivan. He even took credit for projects that he did not work on, i.e. the Wainwright Building. FLW was a great architect, however he did not hesitate tell a whopper.

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:22 pm
by Jeff Myers
Is the Cottage around or did it not survive Katrina or Camille. I have family down there but I didn't know about it till a few years ago.

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:29 pm
by pharding
It did not survive unfortunately. Poor Louis Sullivan. He did truly great work much of which has been obliterated in the recent past.

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:03 pm
by Laurie Virr
Mr Paul Harding:

The fact that you were not aware that Louis Sullivan had FLLW design his house, stables and servants quarters at Ocean Springs, Mississippi, in 1890, is not of itself definitive.

See 'Louis Sullivan', Hugh Morrison, published by W.W. Norton, 1935, and 'In the Nature of Materials', Henry Russell Hitchcock, published by Elek Books Limited, Fifth Printing, May 1958.

The work, most probably the first house FLLW was asked to design whilst in the employ of Adler and Sullivan, was unsupervised.

James Charnley had introduced Louis Henri Sullivan to that area of the U.S.A.

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 8:26 am
by pharding
I have researched that house and I have a copy of the the Architectural Record Article on the house which was published shortly after its construction. No mention is made of Frank Lloyd Wright in any capacity, let alone be credited as designer of Louis Sullivan's own house. Until your post I have never heard of anyone claim that Louis Sullivan, certainly a great, great design architect, did not design his own house. In the Nature of Materials FLW makes the claim after Louis Sullivan's death, however he has a long history of telling whoppers about his role on Louis Sullivan projects. In Ward Connelly's highly regarded book on Louis Sullivan no mention is made of your claim.

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:16 am
by outside in
I believe that Paul Sprague and many other scholars have claimed Wright's involvement in the Ocean Springs Cottages. Furthermore I doubt if Wright would have simply made up his contribution to those buildings.

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:56 pm
by Roderick Grant
As long as we're on the subject of attribution, who designed the so-called Albert Sullivan House (Storrer, 19)? The original client was, according to Storrer, Sullivan's mother Adrienne, but she died during construction, so LHS lived there for 4 years, followed by his brother Albert. Was this too important a commission for LHS to have fobbed off onto his underling FLW?

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:21 pm
by pharding
outside in wrote:I believe that Paul Sprague and many other scholars have claimed Wright's involvement in the Ocean Springs Cottages. Furthermore I doubt if Wright would have simply made up his contribution to those buildings.
Why not? Frank Lloyd Wright made up lots of whoppers. Like his age for one. How about his education claims? How about credit for the design of the Wainright Building and the Auditorium Theater for others? Frank told Dwight Martin and his brother that he designed both of those buildings. FLW should get the Olympic Whopper Gold Medal for those two bald faced lies. Louis Sullivan was one of the greatest, if not the greatest architect of his period, doing very original and innovative design work. Louis Sullivan was a hard core design architect. He cared immensely about design. And we are supposed to believe that he did not care enough about his own house to design it? Frank may have worked on it, but to attribute the design to Frank Lloyd Wright is ludicrous.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that Frank Lloyd Wright was the greatest American Architect, if not in the world. But he was not at that level in early 20's. And he took a lot of great original ideas from Louis Sullivan and claimed them as his own. Some like to attribute God-like qualities to FLW and just take everything that he claimed or wrote as being the gospel truth. Regardless of what he claimed, he put his pants on one leg at a time and he would tell an occasional whopper if it suited his needs.

Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 4:09 am
by Laurie Virr
If the implication is that I attribute God-like qualities to Frank Lloyd Wright, I refute them absolutely. Even a cursory glance at the contributions I have made to Wright Chat would suggest that is not the case. I am fully aware that he used people, and denigrated rivals in the most appalling ways. Lloyd Wright told an architect of my acquaintance that, ‘William Drummond was a great architect, but Dad made sure he never knew it’. That is a dreadful way for one architect to behave towards another, and surely demonstrates a fundamental insecurity. I have always deplored the uncritical responses of many of the apprentices, and drawn attention to the fact that in general, the most talented of them spent very little time at Taliesin. It is an ungenerous stretch to assume that because FLLW told some major untruths, everything he said was of doubtful veracity.

Bruce Goff, on being invited by FLLW to join him at Taliesin, replied with this well known, but diplomatic response:

‘Mr. Wright, you honor me ... therefore I feel I should tell you the real reason why I believe I should not accept your offer. I have known people who have worked with you in the Oak Park days and since, and they all seem to fall into two categories; one group thinks you have ruined their lives ... that you have stolen their ideas and that you are a devil. The other believes that you are a God who can do no wrong and that their lives are useless unless sacrificed for you. I don't want to think of you in either of these ways ... nor can I ever be a disciple. I need to be away from you far enough so that I can get the proper perspective.’

I fully ascribe to all those sentiments.

It is granted that FLLW did not design the Wainwright Building or the Auditorium Theater.

The Wainwright Building:

Somewhere in his writings Frank Lloyd Wright described how, whilst in the employ of Louis Henri Sullivan, the latter burst into his office one day and threw a drawing down on his table. It was the culmination of a long struggle to truly express the essential nature of the skyscraper, and the younger man claimed to have understood the implications of what was on the paper. He described the incident as Louis Henri Sullivan’s greatest moment, and few of us with disagree with that assessment.

Whether he understood the full import of the design of the Wainwright Building is open to debate, but I doubt that he did.

The Auditorium Theater:

Adler and Sullivan received the commission for the Auditorium Building in 1886, some time before FLLW was in their employ. The construction was complete by 1890, and it is problematic as to whether or not the young man made little or any contribution to either the design, or the construction.

The evidence for my assertions is based on a number of factors. Among these are the fact that an examination of the residential work of Louis Henri Sullivan, particularly in relation to scale, suggests how uncomfortable he was with that aspect of design. Whereas his touch with the larger buildings is sublime, his residential details are awkward.

Being an extremely intelligent and sensitive individual. Louis Henri Sullivan had no difficulty in assessing the architectural ability of Frank Lloyd Wright, in particular his exquisite sense of residential scale, and this is manifest in the fact that the latter was given responsibility for all the commissions for houses accepted by the studio at that time.

Louis Henri Sullivan had seven years prior to 1890 during which he had set the course of modern Architecture, designed some landmark buildings, and established his reputation as the leading U.S. architect of the time. He had nothing to prove by designing his own house, especially when he was aware that there was a talent in his studio more gifted than he for the task. Altho small in stature, he was heroic in spirit, the artist-architect, and willing to give of himself to younger men of ability. From all I have read, he did not suffer fools gladly, but he was generous, and sufficiently confident in his ability and his cause, at that time in his life, for him to fear none of his fellow professionals. Furthermore, his experiences at M.I.T. and the Ecole des Beaux Arts, had taught him that architects are born, not made: that one could be a good designer at a young age, as he was, or a poor one after spending a working life in the profession. One either has what it takes, or else is bereft of it.

The proposition that Louis Henri Sullivan had Frank Lloyd Wright design his vacation house only appears ludicrous to those who are not prepared to accept that each architect has his own sense of scale. Deeper thinkers, those with sufficient sensitivity, acknowledge, and have no difficulty with that. Whilst designs have to go out under the aegis of the studio from which they are commissioned, only the apparently mean types, business men who find themselves in Architecture, such as Nathaniel Owings, are not prepared to furnish attribution to those responsible for the work. What is lost by so doing?

If Louis Henri Sullivan did care enough about the design of his vacation house, why did he not supervise it?

Many architects live in dwellings designed by others. Some purchase significant houses, and seek to make their reputation by occupying them. Louis Henri Sullivan was not such a one. He was much bigger than that.


Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 6:19 am
by george nichols
If and when the Mills archives become available,it will be interesting to see what he has to say about this house.

A very limit article about this house appeared in "Dwell",7-8,2004.


Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:49 pm
by Roderick Grant
It must also be kept in mind that SOM was a major firm with several offices around the country, so that neither S nor O (M was the businessman of the group, like Mead of McKim, Mead & White) could possibly have handled all the work that came out of their office. And indeed, they hired architects who worked as the chief designers in their firm, most notably Gordon Bunshaft, who got credit for the buildings he designed.