Francis W. Little House fully restored

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Paul Ringstrom
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Francis W. Little House fully restored

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

1505 W. Moss Ave., Peoria, IL

photos taken 8/24/2011 ... 388484337/

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Post by pharding »

The second floor infill does not look original. If original it is not something that FLW was a likely willing participant. Some clients initiated unfortunate design changes even with a great architect like FLW. The Cheney House has unfortunate double hung windows on the rear that FLW hated. However that is part of the story of those houses.
Last edited by pharding on Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | | LinkedIn

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Post by Tim »

I’ll stay out of the integrity of design debate.

That issue aside, it is a beautiful home.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Not thrilled about the fence, which seems a bit flimsy for such a substantial house. I despair of downspouts! all over the place. The landscaping seems prissy. Otherwise it looks good.

"... that horrible addition"? Paul, to what do you refer? The plaster portion on the second floor toward the back? That's original.

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Post by pharding »

The infill/addition certainly does not like anything that FLW did or willingly would do. I agree that the downspouts were contrary to what FLW did and beleived in during his entire career. They are out of place and inappropriate in my opinion. There are much better solutions to recycling roof drainage water that would alleviate the need for downspouts. However the owners are to be commended for their interest in recycling rain water.

The landscaping while "nice", does not exhibit fidelity to what FLW did in his projects in my opinion. He had a strong aversion to foundation plantings, a Victorian idea, and wrote about his objections.
Last edited by pharding on Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:26 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | | LinkedIn

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Check out the original drawings in the Mono. It's there. Often servants' quarters were of a lower standard of refinement than family quarters. It's not on a facade that was expected to be seen.

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

There were no additions or changes to the footprint of the house. The porch on the east side was returned to open-air status after having been enclosed. Several masonry walls were built that were not there several years ago, but look like what Wright would do. I don't know if they are on the drawings.

I don't know what has happen on the interior. The previous owner had removed and sold all of the original fixtures and furniture.

I do know that all of the windows were removed and restored and then reinstalled.

The fence looks nice and appropriate style-wise. I especially liked the vines that are growing on the fence. It softened the look quite nicely. The landscape is about one year old, so it won't look so "prissy" by next year. The fence is there to keep the lookie-loos (that would be us) off the property. There a numerous signs indicating that guard dogs are present.

I think it looks fabulous. It is across the street from many very large mansions on larger lots.

Wright's, unacknowledged, Clark House (1314 W. Moss) is just down the street. He walked away from that one after a disagreement with the client's wife.
Last edited by Paul Ringstrom on Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

outside in
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Post by outside in »

I agree with Roderick - the landscaping is inappropriate. I think Americans started this stupid tendency to install "foundation plantings" sometime between the wars. Some have referred to this as the "great amputation", where buildings appear to float on a sea of evergreens/shrubs and no longer touch the ground - especially horrible on a Wright building with the characteristic base. Fortunately its not a permanent change and can be redone with damage to the building. Gutters and downspouts are similar 'crimes" but in the long run will tend to preserve the building from the effects of splashing water.

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1505 W Moss Ave

Post by marybmuir »

My husband and I are the owners of the Francis Little home at 1505 W Moss Avenue. We spent 3 years giving OUR home a museum quality restoration.
Taking OUR home back to 1902/3 as much as possible. Just a sampling of the incredible work done is replacing walls that where non existant or crumbling, bringing the veranda back to it's original use (was poorly enclosed as a tv room),putting the boiler back in it's original location in the carriage house- running the gutters to the cistern-which waters the landscape (we did the entire project green)- the entire exterior was restored, the brick,the concrete (replaced when needed), , the windows are now 98% restored including the sashes and hardware- everything done exactly as FLW would have wanted it- the work and research we and our team did was exhaustive. This has been an act of love by our family. Remember we did this all during the recession at a ridiculous cost- we hired only the very best craftsman and artisans. I am sick to death of all your negativity and criticisms from you half wit FLW Zealots. The landscape isn't prissy- it's incredible- Frank would have loved it- and you would know this had you researched his landscapes. I did- spent two years designing it - I have been a gardner for 25 years- I know what I'm doing. The fence was what the Peoria Historical Society okayed- I was never going to put a Victorian fence... Also there is no addition... that is original to the house and is the servants quarters-do your research before you open your mouth and hurt someone's feelings. The inside has been lovingly restored as well- ahh but you all will never see it will you-Yay! I appreciate your passion- we have that same passion for OUR home-your negativity and... criticisms you can keep to your self-We did an amazing job and live in a work of art each and every day-we feel very blessed to be the caretakers.

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Post by Wrightgeek »

Ms. Muir-

On behalf of the members here on Wright Chat, I would like to offer my apologies to you and your family if some of the comments in this thread about your home were insensitive. Although it may appear to you that way, I can assure you that the intent of these comments was not to be hurtful towards you, but the fact remains that you were obviously upset by some of these remarks, and for that we are truly sorry.

You are to be thanked and congratulated for the time, effort and resources that you have devoted to save and restore this beautiful residence, bringing it back to its original glory. At times, some of us here on Wright Chat are guilty of losing sight of the fact that not only are these Frank Lloyd Wright designed structures, but they are in many cases someone's home. Most of us take tremendous pride in our homes, as you obviously do, whether that home is architectually significant or not. And since our relationship with our home is often such a personal one, it is understandable that we are easily hurt by negative comments about them.

One last thing about the comments in this thread. Before beginning this reply to your post, I went back through the entire thread and carefully reread each post. I think that if you do the same, you will find that the majority of these posts were of a positive nature, and supportive of your efforts. Which is not to say that there weren't some criticisms, but I would urge you to avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. And FYI, two of the commenters on this thread are highly regarded restoration architects who have each purchased and meticulously restored a FLW residence as their family home, as you have done.

Thanks again for your work on the Little Residence, and I hope you and your family spend many happy years there enjoying the fruits of your efforts and the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright. You are certainly deserving of such pleasure. And thanks for joining in the conversation here on Wright Chat, and letting us know that we may have overstepped our bounds.

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Post by Rood »

I would also like to congratulate Mr. & Mrs. Muir for the efforts they have made to restore the Little House. Not having seen recent photographs, I'll just have to assume they did a great job. As it's not a small house, I can imagine how much work they had on their hands.

Some years ago I met a previous owner of the house ... perhaps Ruth and William Swardenski ... who showed me exterior photographs of the house. Below is a link to an article featuring a photograph of the living room, showing something of what the Muir's had to face. ... yle-peoria

N.B. Scroll down to find mention of the second Wright house.

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Post by egads »

A house this significant really belongs to the culture. You are stewards. While this particular thread is heavily populated with some of our most extreme curmudgeons, there are more reasonable voices here and in other threads about YOUR house. However, in light of this story I found while trying to find some more recent photos, you maybe could understand how a website of preservationists could be a little negative: ... auses-stir

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Post by SDR »

Illustrations of the F W Little residence, from the Wasmuth Portfolio (1910) as reproduced in "Drawings and Plans of FLLW" (Dover, ©1983):


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Post by ross »

I often wonder if we are living in a particularly uncivil age. With the Internet phenomenon, people are, more than ever before, able to publically express themselves. Sadly, if one reads the comments on any blog or news story, most of the comments are remarkable for their incivility. Really, what I read astonishes, and deeply saddens me.

I used to be a frequent contributor on CURBED NY. But I was driven away by the vicious comments. I then discovered Wright Chat and was pleasantly surprised by the consistently civil tone.

Thus the comments by Mrs. Muir came as a shock:

I am sick to death of all your negativity and criticisms

you half wit FLW Zealots.

I was never going to put a Victorian fence

do your research before you open your mouth

The inside has been lovingly restored as well – ahh but you all will never see it will you – Yay!

your negativity and stupid criticisms

Certainly I appreciate that Mrs. Muir was upset about some of the comments in this thread. She and her husband obviously poured considerable monies, time, effort, and love into restoring their Wright-designed home. They have every right to feel proud.

I applaud all that. But no one called them names. The criticisms were not personal. Moreover, is it reasonable to purchase a famous home by an even more famous architect and not expect some public, ah, oversight?

In reading this thread, yes, there is a concern expressed about a supposed addition (which was immediately corrected). A few people have issues with the landscaping. A fence and the downspouts raised concerns, too.

That is it.

But there is also (before Mrs. Muir’s comment):

it is a beautiful home.

it looks good.

The fence looks nice and appropriate style-wise.

it looks fabulous.

So, while there are a few concerns about relatively minor issues, there are also highly supportive comments.

Wright Chat is blessed by incredibly knowledgeable people passionate, and, yes, opinionated about Wright. Thank God. Thank God. If I owned a Wright house I would go to some pains to cultivate this rare and valuable resource.

That said, is this an opportunity reminding contributors to Wight Chat that their comments do not exist in a vacuum? Such comments are very public indeed. As such, is some caution of expression a good idea? Not, of course, about WHAT is said but HOW. For example, to voice a concern about X issue not being historically accurate (which seems, to me, a very reasonable and appropriate observation on Wright Chat) is altogether very different than stating that X issue is ugly.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

I applaud the Muirs' restoration. This is a largely overlooked work which apparently survived by the skin of its teeth until the Muirs bought it. There is little significant information written about it and few revealing photographs published. But that doesn't matter. If the Muirs prefer to keep their residence as private as possible, good for them. That they have done a fine job to secure the future of the house is all that really matters in the end. I'm sure that if I had the privilege of owning a FLW house, I would be very hesitant to open it to strangers, no matter what their point of view might be, favorable or not. (I have relatives I won't let into my home!) Our comments are more of an academic sort, and not personal at all. The response was way over the top.

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