Houses near Westcott to be torn down

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pharding
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Post by pharding »

IMO they should leave the existing houses. They contribute to the context of the house and they are part of the story of the house.The houses around any FLW House are part of the story and need to be preserved.
Paul Harding FAIA Owner and Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, the First Prairie School House in Chicago | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

D. Shawn Beckwith
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 9:23 pm

Westcott Interior

Post by D. Shawn Beckwith »

An extensive Historic Structures Report for the Westcott House was authored by Lauren Burge of Chambers, Murphy & Burge Restoration Architects.The Design Team used the origional FLW drawings archived in Taliesen that included the Childerns playroom furniture, Library table, book case and dinning room table. The House is also in the Wasmuth portfolio.The history of the family is clearly outlined in the HSR.The Greenmount Houses built prior to W are gone.
Unbrook I suggest you contact the Westcott House to get the TRUE data on how accurate the restoration is from the Historic structures report.


D. Shawn Beckwith
Project Manager for the Restoration of
The Burton J. Westcott House

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

Westcott House

Post by Unbrook »

Dear D. Shawn Beckwith:

Thank you for your reply. When I first toured the Westcott House on a hard hat tour prior to the completion of the restoration, I carried a copy of the Storrer plan for comparison. Storrer either doesn't show the playroom as completed in the restoration or has transposed the first floor to the second. I also referred to a book published by Dover Publications to look at the Westcott House drawing (Frank Lloyd Wright Drawings and Plans of Frank Lloyd Wright, The Early Period 1893-1909) The forward to the edition
is dated Florence, Italy June 1910 and I am assuming it is from the Wasmuth Portfolio. The drawing does not identify the room I am questioning. This is what I have to go on. When I toured the house after it was opened to the public, I thought it odd that the only access from the main part of the house to the pergola and gardens was through a playroom.

Is the information you refer to available to the public? Is it in the book & DVD sold at your gift shop?

With reference to the childrens furniture, I have never seen drawings or photographs of any such furniture designed by Mr. Wright, so I am suspicious of such a claim. That is not to say I can't be proven wrong. Who would I contact at the Westcott House?

As a docent at the Weltzheimer/Johnson house, I have always tried to present Mr. Wright in a totally unbiased manner that could lead the visitor
to an incorrect assumption about his architecture. I tend to question everything, because there is a lot of incorrect information out there about Mr. Wright.

I am ready and willing to learn.

Thanking you again for your attention to my comment.

Fred Unwin

egads
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Location: Long Beach CA

Post by egads »

Even I thought the room would have served as a passage and sort of mudroom when coming from the garage. Other doors to the back would have been for servants only. Children grow up and soon a room dedicated to their play would be repurposed. It would also make a nice small office, especially as it was adjacent to the phone nook. The house was built during a transitional time. Having a phone at all would be brand new. Autos were replacing horses as transportation. Changes were probably made as the house was designed and as built. I know the garage was to have a turntable for a motorcar, but that was not built because a reverse gear was introduced. But it still did have horse stalls.

D. Shawn Beckwith
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Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 9:23 pm

Westcott

Post by D. Shawn Beckwith »

I am not an employee of the Westcott House just the lowly project manager for the restoration company that performed the work and orchestrated and imbued life in to Westcott.

Contact Marta W. the Curator she should have a copy of the HSR. Contact Lauren Burge of Chambers, Murphy and Burge. She authored it, I just contributed to it as we performed our work.

Yes Westcott had alterations as it was built that did not reflect what FLW drew. Also the two story rear addtion soon after it was built.

However upon dismanteling the laundry room wall evidence in the framing, pencil marks, nails and nail holes showed us the heights and locations of windows Which by the way was different than what the Design team proposed for the rear of the building throught schollarly research and FLW's drawings. So the decision was made to REPLICATE what was there from the evidence revealed and not to interpret what someone thought it should be. ( Secretary of Interior Standards)

The theory is that Orpha had built what she wanted for her house and her children. The childrens playroom and pergola make a safe area for the children to play. Burton and the staff probably used the kitchen door into the laundry room and up the stairs to maids area or down the stairs to basement. But since the family did not leave records to my knowledge at the time of restoration this is speculative on my part.

From basically living and breathing in that house for four years and having my office in the former 39 S. Greenmount Ave second floor...
As we put it together it started revealing itself.

This is not in the HSR.....

Think for a minute.. what and who was Burton J. Westcott... sure a public figure and car designer and entrepenure.. he was a car salesman..

Think with this ....as you walk UP into the house and turn to the left you have all the art glass , laylite and art glass book cases.. flashy trendy progressive then turn and go to the library room.

The table works great to have blueprints stretched on it ( worked great for me with the punch list) and the glass cabinet behind this was his show room/ sales room. Then the client moved to the the fire place area had a brandy before dinner and then voila sit down at THAT dinning room table and close the deal.. or walk out on the the terrace and he would say "buy my cars boys this is the wave of the future and you can live like me"!

Now what we need is Wes Cowan with PBS History Detectives to check it out verify the story..

When you all come for the conference you can check out the W and how true the restoration was done versus the evidence we had uncovered at the time we performed the work. As always a HSR is a living document and since that time WHF has found a photo of Orpha next to the library cabinet.

I donot know WHF's idea for the Greenmount ave area.. From a practical point the yard and pergola is not big enough of an area to have decient events. Below the carraige house where the Catalpa tree once stood is too steep of an incline to be functional for events. To enable the WHF to be an economic engine using the Greenmount ave area for events with the carraige house and back of the house as a backdrop is a possible solution. Also with a "neighbor" very close to the back yard and events in the back conflicts might have brewed this might be a solution to have events "down the hill". But again at the conference we will hear more on this and context issues and we will all be able to chat about all this.
" How to remain profitable in a new economic climate"

Regards
D. Shawn Beckwith
Historic Restoration Specialist

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

Westcott House

Post by Unbrook »

Thank you for your response. I will contact the Westcott people as you suggest.

What I found interesting at the house was Mr. Wright's use of the three part primary community room (my description). This is vintage Wright.
He has expanded on it in the Darwin Martin House. Storrer describes the first room (to the left as you enter up the stairs) at Westcott as the Reception Room. The restoration clearly has made it the library which makes more sense in the sequence of the spaces. At Darwin Martin, the reception room is marked as the first room you would see as you enter the house and could be described as a front parlor in the Victorian era--a more formal room where guests who were not familiar with the family would be seated. This makes the 3 part "community " room to the right a definite family space. In the Usonians, there often is a room called the sanctum by the front entry (Pope/Leighey). The room to the right at the top of the stairs at the Wescott House would be the perfect candidate for this type of room. Then the entry to the pergola would make a gracious entry to the outside. When I first visited the house on a public tour, mention was made that the pergola was the longest one Wright designed-evidently a source of pride for the family.

I do not want to rewrite history and reinterpret it to make it nice. I want to learn how the family would have used the house and how Mr. Wright intended the house to be used. I believe this to be the value of the study of Frank Lloyd Wright and takes the house from being just a historic property and allows us to let Mr. Wright still to teach us.

Mr Westcott was more than just a car salesman. He was a businessman and had staked his fortune on the Westcott car. I believe the reason he asked Wright to design the house for him was the fact that it would gain him exposure (or notoriety) and aid in the success of his business or indicate that he had made it. It was his castle and I believe entry to the gardens (unless they were just vegetable or cutting gardens) would not have been an afterthought but an integral part of the design for the house.

I am very interested in how the clients actually were intended to live in their houses. I encounter it at the Weltzheimer house in trying to explain what the Usonians were all about. Granted my beliefs are based somewhat on conjecture, but I feel they should be expressed. So much of what is talked about with Wright is based on older myths and we must strive for the truth.

Please excuse my long winded-ness.

egads
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Post by egads »

Unbrook, what you have to keep in mind is the Wright house you are intimate with is 50 years newer and had a history trail that was a lot clearer.
The Westcott was trashed, remodeled, added onto. The Westcott's trail is quite cold. As Mr Beckwith points out, funding for restoration was dependent on following specific guidelines. The place got restored to "as built" rather than "as designed"

Unbrook
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Westcott House

Post by Unbrook »

I do understand that. But what I have realized with Mr. Wright that he establishes certain patterns in his designs early on in his career and then does variations on the theme throughtout his life. Thus we can infer certain things (i.e. room usage) from later work. Granted it is all conjectural, but then much research must be that when the facts are few. The three part "community" room at Wescott is the room usage space as the "Living Room" at the Weltzheimer house. Multifunctional. The earlier houses do retain the vestige of the Victorian front parlor, but by the time of the Usonians, this has been eliminated in order to keep the costs down, the small house problem resolved.

D. Shawn Beckwith
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Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 9:23 pm

Westcott

Post by D. Shawn Beckwith »

Points well taken.
More research has been conducted into the Westcotts life after I completed my work beacuse we really did not have any on how the family used the house. They only lived in the house for a small amount of time.
True it can be theroized how FLW was reusing a successful model in many of his houses for his clients and placing emphasis on social class structure of the victorian age due to time period.

Julian Forsythe from the John Galsworthy Forsythe Saga comes to mind.

Let me add a missing dimension. The human element between two examples I know.
First the Westcott they were on the cutting edge with developing automobiles, progressive.
Nancy and Malcom Willey were progressive and cutting edge also. We know Cousin Nan was the impetus with the Willey maybe Orpha was likewise to W so hence the last minute alterations to accomidate her needs, safe place for her children in a male dominated world rebelling the structured victorian age?
My 2 cents.

jww
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Post by jww »

I was informed of the following details on my tour of the Westcott House yesterday by our guide:
1. Mr.Wright was more than happy to accomodate Mrs.Westcott with last minute changes, as these would provide additional income to FLW in his time of need.
2. Only furniture that plans/documentation could be found for was reproduced for the house.
3. The adjacent houses on the property that were torn down occured because they were condemned and over-run with the homeless. When told they would be responsible and could be sued if any were injured or died in those homes, they were demolished within two weeks.
4. Only one picture of Mr.Westcott (as mayor in 1920) and one of Mrs.Westcott have turned up in 5 years of searching - none of the interior of house, possibly due to the fact they were Quakers (?!)

If I remember any other details, I will post... just don't shoot the messenger... jww

pharding
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Post by pharding »

jww wrote: .....
3. The adjacent houses on the property that were torn down occured because they were condemned and over-run with the homeless. When told they would be responsible and could be sued if any were injured or died in those homes, they were demolished within two weeks.
... jww
The restoration of the house is well done and much appreciated. However tearing down those adjacent houses for those reasons is absurd. Someone made an extremely poor choice and then generated a bunch of goofy rationalizations. The context of these FLW houses is extremely important. In the case of the Wescott House an important part of the story is the inward looking rear courtyard that was Wright's response to the urban fabric around the house.
Paul Harding FAIA Owner and Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, the First Prairie School House in Chicago | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

jww
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Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:44 am

Post by jww »

I did not see the original buildings, but i can see where context would be important. The Westcott does stand out amongst the other tradition buildings in the area from the turn of the century. The tour guide seemed to be indicating that the couldn't keep the homeless out (remove them in AM, back in PM) and that was the driving force behind their reasoning, for good or bad. Agree with you that the house is delightful and only about 40 minutes away -- and I have the Meyer Medical Building in Dayton about 4 miles from my house that I can drive by daily for my FLW fix :) jww

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