Video: Documentary on Eric Brown House - Kalamazoo, MI

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Jckazoo
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 5:08 pm

Re: Video: Documentary on Eric Brown House - Kalamazoo, MI

Post by Jckazoo »

I don't check in here very often, but I do have an answer to SDR's question about deciphering FLW's handwriting on the letter from Eric Brown that was included with the MLive photos. I'm afraid I don't know how to post a picture of the full letter. Brown wrote to Wright in 1946 following the visit to Taliesin by representatives from both Parkwyn Village and what would become The Acres. In the letter, Brown asks Wright 2 questions. #1 - "Would you be willing to do the whole project if there were as many as forty homes thereon?" Wright replies "To question one - Yes - something something to a house where you are located is not bad". (That doesn't make sense, I know.)

Then the 2nd question: "Would you be willing to do individual homes in the project if you were not to do them all?" Wright replies "Yes, provided I could protect what I did by a veto on what took place alongside." Wright was looking for the right to review and veto plans for a home immediately adjacent to one of his homes. I think the Association at the time agreed to this. To our knowledge this right was never exercised. There was probably just one house built before Wright died that was adjacent to one of his houses, and we've never heard that Wright reviewed the plans for that home.

The photos from the MLive article are the best collection of recent photos. We hope to have Andrew Pielage here this summer to photograph. FYI, the house was put on the National Register of Historic Places shortly after this article ran.

SDR
Posts: 19451
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Video: Documentary on Eric Brown House - Kalamazoo, MI

Post by SDR »

Thanks, for that, Jckazoo, I appreciate it. Wright had so few of these opportunities to arrange an entire development, and in each case he ended up doing just a few houses at each location. The four or five Usonian-period residential planning/house design projects would make a nifty book if collected and studied as a type.

I have another question for you: your dining chairs represent a unique design among all Usonian furnishings, I think, in that they have a seat which appears identical (in the one or two photos I can find) to the hassocks made for the house---to which has been added a frame supporting the back.

Can you tell me if the seat is in fact identical to the hassock in every way ? Does the seat come off the back frame ?

Thanks for your kind attention to our ramblings here at Wright Chat !

S

Jckazoo
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 5:08 pm

Re: Video: Documentary on Eric Brown House - Kalamazoo, MI

Post by Jckazoo »

The current dining chairs are not the originals. I don't know what they looked like, but they didn't last long here. We've been told by Ric Brown (Eric and Ann's son) that his parents didn't like the chairs, so they had local architect Norman Carver, who was also a neighbor here in Parkwyn, adapt 6 of the hassocks to be the dining chairs. The backs are fixed. The hassocks are not as big as some we've seen in Wright's houses, so the chairs are low and tippy. The table is also only 27 3/4" high, so everything sits very low. My 6'4" tall husband hates using the dining table, so usage is limited to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the (very rare) times we have people over for dinner.

My husband and son (6'8") also have to duck to get through a doorway - at least the ceilings are vaulted throughout the house!

SDR
Posts: 19451
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Video: Documentary on Eric Brown House - Kalamazoo, MI

Post by SDR »

Yes, I can see how the chairs might be tippy, as the leg members are quite close together where they contact the floor. This effect would of course be magnified by the resilience and compressibility of the carpet.

An easy fix can be pictured to address that problem, and incidentally to raise the chairs a bit in the process: a rectangular panel of 1" or 1 1/2" thick plywood, in matching finish, could be screwed to the bottom of the legs, approximating the size and shape of the footprint of the hassock---or even larger. Its edges could be bevelled inward for appearance, and a small reverse bevel be provided at the bottom edge to make movement easier and to protect both the plywood and the carpet from unnecessary damage.

As these are not Wright originals, no harm would be done with such a modification, it seems to me---and in any event the screw holes in the bottom of the chair legs would be forever unseen. The change in stability would be immediately apparent. I believe the result would not be un-Wrightian in character.

The table as well could be discreetly raised, without harm, by means of a "second table" standing a bit taller over which the present table would be nested. The effect would be a largely invisible second leg panel inside the existing one, at each end. If constructed correctly, no holes in the existing table would be necessary . . .

These changes might make the table and chairs comfortable for your guys at every meal ?

S

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