Unbuilt home--Ludington Michigan

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Beth
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Unbuilt home--Ludington Michigan

Post by Beth »

My uncle engaged Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home for his property just south of Ludington on Lake Michigan.

The house design is for a small--2 bedrooms and 2 baths--and quite simple house. It has two rooftop decks that seem quite cool to me. It was designed in 1945.

I am curious to know if the blueprints and renderings are marketable. We are not interested in selling the property that the house was specifically designed for, but have a similar parcel about 1 mile south on the lakeshore that we would sell.

If anyone has a sense of whether the plans (with or without lakeshore property) would be marketable please advise.

Reidy
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Post by Reidy »

I don't know about the package you propose, but the drawings alone could find a market. Such items have come up on Ebay; see the Dayer house thread below. The art auction houses might also be interested. You'd be wise to get an appraisal / authentication.

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »

It would appear that the subject home is the "George Berdan House".

From "Complete Works - 1943 - 1959" p. 62:

"4501
George Berdan House

1945
Ludington, Michigan
Project

The plan for the George Berdan House corresponds to the plan for the Frank Rentz House. It is a two-story Usonian with a long rectangular plan containing workspace, utilities, and living room, with an additional bedroom and bathroom extending out from the far end of the living room. The second floor provides another bedroom and bathroom with a balcony overlooking the two-story living room. As with the Rentz house, the second-floor bedroom has a small outdoor balcony. Construction was to be standard Usonian house type, with heated concrete slab, brick masonry, and board and batten walls and partitions. Although the presentation drawings were approved and signed on November 17, 1945, the working drawings were not prepared until 1948. Even so, the project did not go into construction.
"


David

dkottum
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Post by dkottum »

Original renderings with FLLW signature are rare and valuable. Packaged with blueprints and lakeshore really makes it interesting. Would the FLW Foundation have any rights to this original material?

This is a classic and unusual two story Usonian house, very good, and relatively easy to build. What a nice retirement house, but winters there with all that glass facing west could be rough.

Beth
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Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:35 pm

Unbuilt home--Ludington Michigan

Post by Beth »

I know they are authentic . I visited Taliesin West and met with the archivist a number of years ago. Do you have a recommendation on where to have them appraised?

Beth
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Unbuilt home--Ludington Michigan

Post by Beth »

How would I know if the foundation has any rights to the blueprints/renderings?

Reidy
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Post by Reidy »

I can't recommend an appraiser myself, but the well-known auction houses (e.g. Sotheby's, Christie's, Butterfield & Butterfield) should have someone on hand. My guess is that if you consigned with them they'd do it as part of their service; otherwise they'd charge you. Most large cities have credentialed appraisers with expertise in manuscripts.

The safest way to get an answer to a legal question is to ask a lawyer. My non-professional understanding is that copyright owners hold publication rights but not rights to the physical manuscripts themselves, which can change hands independently of copyrights.

Randolph C. Henning
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Post by Randolph C. Henning »

FYI, (speaking as an architect) historically (and typically by contract) original architectural drawings are known as "instruments of service" (just like a mechanic's tools, a surgeon's instruments, etc.). When someone hires an architect they receive a service and they do not own the instruments of service (i.e. original architectural drawings). I've heard that originals often left the Taliesin's so to allow the client, builder, etc. to make copies (i.e. blueprints). But the originals were always asked to be returned. I guess one exception might be if Frank Lloyd Wright gifted the originals to the client but I'd bet that rarely happened. Perhaps the time elapsed has either eroded or negated the legal rights of the FLlW Foundation in these sort of cases. I don't know about that. But, again speaking as an architect, you might consider returning them to the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives. That would be considered the morally (W)right thing to do. The blueprints however wouldn't fall under the instruments of service clause and most likely are yours to own (again speaking as an architect and not as an expert on law). Do my colleagues concur?

outside in
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Post by outside in »

I really don't think the Foundation has any copyright claims to blueprints - they are copies of original drawings that were contractually the property of the owner. Standard AIA contract language concurs. I've had blueprints appraised before and they indeed have value, usually on a per sheet basis, and run anywhere from $100-$300 per sheet. As documents they can be bought and sold without affecting the Foundations claims. The only problem would be if someone else were to buy the drawings to actually build the house. In that case the DESIGN would be copyrighted.

egads
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Post by egads »

The best course may be to have them appraised and then donate them to the Wright foundation. A win all the way around. In fact, there may be someone at the foundation archives who could do the appraisal for free. Or recommend someone. An independent appraisal may be required by the IRS.

Reidy
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Post by Reidy »

Did your uncle ever say what brought him to Wright or why he didn't build? Money is usually the explanation, but new Wright lore is always welcome.

Beth
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Unbuilt home--Ludington Michigan

Post by Beth »

My Uncle was an artist and loved the work of Wright. He had a wonderful piece of property on Lake Michigan and wrote Mr. Wright a letter asking him if he would consider designer a home for a man of modest means. Once the design was done he could never afford to build it.

As a kid I used to look at the plans...was fascinated by them. He gave them to me many years ago and I have done nothing with them.

There is a lot of property on the lake currently for sale and it make me wonder about seeing if someone might like to buy them and build in the area.

Deke
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Post by Deke »

If they are original drawings then they're worth thousands per sheet. Blueprints much less.

Beth, I'd be interested in buying a set of copies or scans to study, thought I can't afford the originals.

Deke

Jeff Myers
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Post by Jeff Myers »

Would there be a perf with this home?
JAT
Jeff T

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Jeff, elevations of Berden are in Mono 7, pg 80. The printing is too small for me to read, but since it is the same type house as Bachman-Wilson (Storrer 366), it may very well have specified perfs.

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