Ennis House sold to Ron Burkle

To control SPAM, you must now be a registered user to post to this Message Board.

EFFECTIVE 14 Nov. 2012 PRIVATE MESSAGING HAS BEEN RE-ENABLED. IF YOU RECEIVE A SUSPICIOUS DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS AND PLEASE REPORT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION.

This is the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy's Message Board. Wright enthusiasts can post questions and comments, and other people visiting the site can respond.

You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, *-oriented or any other material that may violate any applicable laws. Doing so may lead to you being immediately and permanently banned (and your service provider being informed). The IP address of all posts is recorded to aid in enforcing these conditions. You agree that the webmaster, administrator and moderators of this forum have the right to remove, edit, move or close any topic at any time they see fit.
peterm
Posts: 6284
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

I talked about the situation with architecture realtor Crosby Doe on Sunday, and he is ecstatic. He said that the house couldn't be in better hands, that Burkle's reputation is exceptional, and that this will help to encourage others who are sitting on the fence to step up and make offers on houses like Millard (Wright), How (Schindler) and Schaffer (Lautner), which have been languishing on the market for months now.

Hopefully he is not being overly optimistic...

Craig
Posts: 564
Joined: Wed May 04, 2005 7:25 am
Location: California

Post by Craig »

The big question for me is how far will he take the restoration. Will those marble floors finally be removed? What about the light fixtures, gates and stained glass windows, all Ennis choices but certainly not Wright's design?

I'd love to see those windows removed and Wright's intended glass designs installed. Still, those windows have been in the house since its completion and many would howl since they appear "Wright." I wish I had a dollar for every article I've read on the house that mentions those windows as typical Wright features. The old man would be furious.
ch

Reidy
Posts: 1609
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 3:30 pm
Location: Fremont CA

Post by Reidy »

The guidelines of the Secretary of the Interior recommend against removing original fabric if it's salvageable. If Burkle follows them the marble, the wrought iron, the lighting fixtures, the ceilings (worst of all) and the windows will all stay.

Institutional restorations stick to the guidelines; private owners might not. We'll see.

SpringGreen
Posts: 539
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2006 9:00 am

Post by SpringGreen »

Reidy - thanks for the reminder of the Secretary of the Interior's Standards guidelines. As much as people may not like it (those stained glass windows!), and as much as FLW may have disliked some of the decisions, those guidelines are crucial to helping us understand the building as built.

One of the underlying rules of "the Standards" is that you not create a "false sense of history". Removing what the Ennis's put in there when the building was completed would do that.

FYI, since the NPS website can be cumbersome to navigate, here's a link to the Standards:
http://www.nps.gov/history/local-law/arch_stnds_8_2.htm

But, yes: once the building's in private hands, who knows? He might bring back what FLW wanted &, in a 100 years, people of my mindset will be arguing to keep what Burkle does!
"The building as architecture is born out of the heart of man, permanent consort to the ground, comrade to the trees, true reflection of man in the realm of his own spirit." FLLW, "Two Lectures in Architecture: in the Realm of Ideas".

Craig
Posts: 564
Joined: Wed May 04, 2005 7:25 am
Location: California

Post by Craig »

Which raises a question that might have been previously asked. Exactly how much can a Wright design be changed by a client and still be called a Wright design?

Any other egregious examples?

It's interesting how according to the standard, the horrible changes made to the design by Ennis should remain but the ones made by Freeman (and their architect, Schindler) are most likely to be removed.
ch

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10532
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

Since Washington D C can barely tie its own shoelaces, I don't give much credence to its standards of correctness where art is concerned. The importance is given to history without regard to art, because Interior doesn't know enough about art to comment on it. Enough is known about what FLW intended at Ennis and his response to the abortions committed against it to justify reworking everything from parapet to retaining wall until it finally looks like the masterpiece he designed. Even the unavoidable compromises he made -- the topo errors which resulted in an unwonted height; elimination of an L-shaped block type that affected only the design of the kitchen balcony -- are known. (While the balcony could be rebuilt to advantage, taking things that far may be going overboard to effect a completely accurate finished product.) I hope Burkle goes back to the drawing board and does as much art restoration as he can, history be damned.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10532
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

Craig, there are two ways changes can be made by a client: with the cooperation of the architect and without it. Francis Little was a picky man who constantly demanded changes from FLW, which were made. Mrs. Bogk also complained about the original flat-roof design, forcing FLW to give the house a hip. These are obviously things that should be kept, because FLW did them, and correctly so. Mable Ennis, on the other hand, took things into her own hands and made egregious alterations on her own against the architect's vociferous objections; those changes should carry no weight at all.

As to Freeman, if Schindler is being deleted, that represents a change of course by USC. For years I championed that idea, but Schindler's designs were to remain. There are other crimes being committed at Freeman!

ross
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:49 am

Post by ross »

While I understand that the marble floors, lighting fixtures, and windows are not by Wright, or even what Wright would have designed, I take issue with the seeming knee-jerk desire to rip these historic elements out of the home.

If I owned Ennis, I would carefully restore the floors and lighting fixtures. But, the windows have always seemed incredibly jarring to me. They don’t relate to the house at all, of course, but worse, I don’t think they are well designed. They are Wright Lite, and lack the subtlety and artistry of Wright-designed windows. The floors and lighting however make no attempt at imitating Wright. I give them points for that. The floors also appear to be of high quality and well installed. I know the lighting was quite expensive in its day and is of superior design and quality. So, too, with all the iron work.

To me, the not-quite-right floors and lighting contribute to the appeal of this very eccentric house.

That said, I might (might) remove all the windows and carefully store them under the motor court (assuming this would somehow be possible). Then I would build the windows Wright designed.
Last edited by ross on Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.

ross
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:49 am

Post by ross »

This rarely seen image is from House Beautiful, 11/55

While the furnishings are quite unusual, I think the whole looks very well. Certainly the living room looks better than it has for, say, the last 50 years.

Note how the carpeting mimics the wall blocks. And the seating helps anchor the marble flooring.

Image

Reidy
Posts: 1609
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 3:30 pm
Location: Fremont CA

Post by Reidy »

The furniture and rug are much more suitable than the Gus Brown-era leftovers that were there the last time I saw the place. I wonder if the new owner will execute the Nesbitt designs.

An interesting point is that this is a night photo. One guess is that the photographer thought "modern" architecture demands a white interior rather than the yellowish that the concrete photgraphs in daylight and so created what he wanted with floodlights. That was probably the only time the house looked quite as it does in the picture.

Unbrook
Posts: 706
Joined: Sat Jan 08, 2005 11:19 am
Location: Lakewood, Ohio

Ennis House

Post by Unbrook »

What were the Nesbit furniture plans? I do think a contemporary interior ala Storer could be interesting at Ennis. Or was the interior fairly well developed with the original plans?

ross
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:49 am

Post by ross »

Reidy wrote:An interesting point is that this is a night photo. One guess is that the photographer thought "modern" architecture demands a white interior rather than the yellowish that the concrete photgraphs in daylight and so created what he wanted with floodlights. That was probably the only time the house looked quite as it does in the picture.
I think this style of photography was popular in the 1950s (don't ask me why). If you look at 1950s images of, say, the interior of the White House, they have the same surreal type of lighting. Highly unflattering.

ross
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:49 am

Post by ross »

Living room in 1926. From Wright in Hollywood.

I much prefer the 1950s décor!

(Missing portion of image is in the book, too.)

Image

ross
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:49 am

Post by ross »

The 1926 furnishings were certainly not custom-made for such a unique environment. However, the 1955 furnishings look custom-made. The style is certainly distinctive.

I’d love to learn more.
Last edited by ross on Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ross
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:49 am

Post by ross »


Post Reply