Ross House Construction Photos

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JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

it gets an A+

How did you determine the original colors?

outside in
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Post by outside in »

We found the original stucco on the inside walls of the porch below the sill, under two coats of latex white paint. The paint was removed and is now a finished surface in the room.

This "remnant" showed us that the finish coat was sprayed on, rather than troweled, so the new stucco coat was applied in the same manner.

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

how do you know about the wood stain color? Also, how about those subtle interior colors? (they look great in the previous photos). I expect they were under multiple layers of old paint -- I presume you were able to strip coats down to the original.

It's interesting to hear that in 1902 they sprayed on stucco. That sounds like more modern tools than I would've expected.

outside in
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Post by outside in »

I laugh a little when asked about the original colors - on "other people's" projects we search for unaltered trim and plaster, take samples, look at things under special microscopes, etc. But when you do the work yourself, using heat guns, scrapers and chemicals needed to remove layers and layers of paint you learn all too well the original colors and every bad color choice subsequent owners have made since the house was built! The brown cabots was on the bottom of all the sash and frame.

The original interior plaster was stained a golden yellow color, both below and above the picture rail. We matched the color below the rail and lightened the frieze/soffit and ceiling with thinned, flat latex. The interior and exterior golden color is almost identical.

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

well, the colors you discovered (and modified) are all extremely attractive.

I think the detective work to find original colors is fascinating. My retired partner did lots of preservation/restoration projects. One was an antebellum house that had been built by a prominent Confederate soldier. Everyone assumed it had always been white until the forensic testing indicated, without a doubt, that it was originally a rather hot pink. So, they swallowed hard and repainted it that color.

Image

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Heh. Did they also create architecture where none had existed before -- or had the original house lost much of its glamor and been stripped back to a more primitive state, over time ?

SDR

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

SDR,
I don't want to be guilty of diverting the subject from this really good, important thread about the Ross house, which is a great piece of restoration.

Really quick, to satisfy your curiosity, I'll be brief -- this old house had been moved from Athens to Atlanta several decades ago. We moved it back 90 miles to where it belonged. To do so it was taken apart in sections (very tricky) to truck-sized pieces, transported and reassembled on a recreated foundation. No small feat. Once reassembled, additional restoration was performed.

(Makes me wonder about proposals I hear to move masonry Usonians on concrete slabs.)

It has in common with the Ross house a heroic act to bring back a lost beauty.

Image

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

And, back to Ross -- the great thing about a successful restoration project is the thrill of the "before & after".

Pairing up Outside In's own photo with a 'before' from the Chicago Tribune, we get to compare and see the improvement on many levels.

Image

SDR
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Post by SDR »

As a friend of mine likes to say, "Well, there you have it." Bravo!


So many things had to be done. We see now that the south veranda, originally open and supported with the architect's favored paired inboard-placed elongated piers, no doubt with a low parapet (how low, John ?), had been screened or glazed at some point, with a five-panel mullion spacing.

This has now been re-thought as a six-panel band, the corner unit being left open as before. Is either the old or the new unit related to the stud spacing of the house ? It would appear not to be a relevant question, as the house itself clearly does not reflect a revealed balloon frame whose studs span two floors, as in the American System-Built structural format. Perhaps the house has an invisible tartan grid of its own ?

What a lovely thing to behold. As with other recent restorations, the bright newness visible in the earliest photos seems already to be modulating towards less saturation of hue -- as is to be expected, though it would take only a tweak of the exposure number to give us a darker yellow, even now ? The orange of the cypress is so fine, a really lovely drawing of itself, in space, on a warm vanilla ground, all of this crisp as newly-ironed handkerchief.

It's good to hear that the Eifler restoration typically reveals a bit more of the wood grain of exterior trim, as compared to the original finish if I understand correctly. Such a good thing. The big thrill of this design is the rich composition of the principal facade, ringing perhaps with the echo of certain Viennese or Glaswegian visuals current then or soon to come . . .

SDR

SDR
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Post by SDR »

I hope it won't be thought uncouth to display again the elevation drawing published in Taschen Vol I, (p 501).


Image
© 2009 by TASCHEN GmbH and by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation


One approach to a work of architecture is to be instructed in its appreciation by comparison to the relevant drawings. These elevations tell us how to look at the building -- as well as satisfying a perhaps more pedestrian interest in fidelity. In this case, the drawings and the photo show essentially the same thing, largely in this case by virtue of the planar nature of the object.

I just love the taste of this sheet; its linework and lettering speak of its lineage and its age. A reader could be forgiven for thinking this sheet was drawn somewhere else in the developed world, c.1915; by then Wright's influence, and parallel developments in both domestic European residential design, combined to produce an object very much like the William Ross house -- inside and out ?

The composition of the three elevations with matching sash, and even of the raggedy "vernacular" rear wall, is so fine. Wright's broad chimney and afore-mentioned porch piers make it all the way down to this little rental property, giving it the caché of any of the architect's Prairie and post-Prairie residences.

Oh -- and, how about that front door ?!

SDR

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

SDR wrote:Stockman is 32' square. SDR
Correction: Stockman is 28'10" x 32'7"

I have the original blueprints.
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Thank you, Paul. Yes, I see it is a rectangle. I also find that Storrer has given us the Fireproof House on the same page as Hunt and adjacent to Stockman (these two are mirror images of each other, I guess -- Storrer's plans vary from page to page as to scale). Is the Fireproof prototype design the only version that's a true square ? If Storrer's scale is reliable here, the Fireproof is c. 29'-3" square.

Edit: Wikipedia has it at 30 feet square. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Firepro ... _for_$5000

Another way to look at the William Ross (almost) four-square is that it sums up an age; could it be said in its appearance, with solid corners and smallish ganged and composed openings, to contain echoes of Viennese and Glaswegian work, of Greene and Greene and of the English A&C and of course Wright's own DNA -- while predicting Schindler and others to come ? Or am I reading too much into four nifty elevations . . .

SDR

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

(SDR: tangent --see this video of that old house being transported and assembled. It's a kick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTXyqHFv_uM )

At Ross, I keep looking at that front photograph -- the proportions and configuration of that composition are so good. And subtle. I don't know if there's some sort of Bramante-esque underlying rational order giving it its perfect repose, but I doubt it. I think it's just FLW's intuitive hand. I find myself trying to see if adjacent component centerlines extend to bisect units below or above, and if any other regulating lines inform the extensions of sill apron trim, or other edges. Just very pleasing proportions. I'm not sure this elegant architectural language would make for an alternate International Style simply because FLW's proportions were so pitch perfect. I would expect likely bastardization by others.

One of the restoration victories here is the re-establishment of the visible base. Back in the bad old purple days, the carbuncle, gas meter, and sloppy landscape obscured the intersection of building and ground. The restored condition is a perfect illustration of another thread's recent discussion of the desire for the unobstructed articulation of the base. What a difference that bottom 12" makes. I'm not sure it would be so critical for a Usonian, but it so strong with this Prairie style.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

As to that, note the interesting difference between Wright's drawing and his building. The drawing seems to show a broad board -- an exterior baseboard ? -- at the ground, while the house has a more recognizable (and practical) projecting water table, with a somewhat narrower board immediately atop it.

Neither detail is "normal" -- likely to have been substituted without Wright's approval -- it seems to me. Any insight, John ?

SDR

Rood
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Post by Rood »

One thing I notice from the drawings is that the solid (concrete?) foundations apparently go down below the frost line ... so it must have been much later, at Taliesin I, perhaps, when Mr. Wright began using rubble stone foundations.

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