William Frank Laraway Jr., apprentice dies

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Paul Ringstrom
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Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2005 4:53 pm
Location: Mason City, IA

William Frank Laraway Jr., apprentice dies

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

William Frank Laraway
May 26, 1933 - March 22, 2019 (age 86)
https://www.casonfuneralservice.com/obi ... !/Obituary

John Geiger has Mr. Laraway joining the Fellowship in October 1958.

He graduated from the University of Michigan in October 1963 with a degree from their College of Architecture and Design. I have not yet found a website of his architectural practice.

He was registered with the Alabama Board of Architecture when he died:
License Information
License #: 988 Name: W F Laraway, Jr.
Address: 12600 County Road 48
Secondary Address:
City: Silverhill State: AL Zip: 36576
Status: Emeritus
Register Date: 4/5/1968 Expiration Date: 12/31/2019

http://www.gulfcoastnewstoday.com/stori ... y-jr,77110

I found this article that he wrote for the TALIESIN FELLOWS NEWSLETTER, NUMBER 13, MARCH 20, 2000:

The Preacher
by Frank Laraway

During the last year in the life of Frank Lloyd Wright, it would seem that he was quite aware that his days were numbered and that he wished to leave his apprentices with all that he had learned and his ideas about greater concepts of society, art, and architecture.

One Sunday morning, just after our usual formal breakfast in the foyer of Taliesin West, he was apparently able to break away from Mrs. Wright’s protective care and came rambling past the kitchen into the drafting studio. As always, he was beautifully dressed in one of his white linen suits with pork-pie hat and gloves. He always contrasted colored tie and handkerchief to ornament his attire. He dressed with the same principles of design, color, and ornament that he put into his architecture.

As some of us stood with our backs to the fire we could hear him coming from afar, cane tapping on the concrete floors and then clearing his throat. He had just given us one of his usual Sunday morning sermons on the nature of art - that birds’ nests were not architecture, lacking the “spirit of man� for their creation; the machine - that it should never control the architect but used in his hands could bring architecture to a new level; the engineer - he must never control the design process and must be but a slide rule for the architect; that it was the beginnings, the edges and the ends that most counted in our dress and architecture - not what was in between.

He seemed to deliberately move into the sunken area in front of the fireplace and make himself open to conversation. Avoiding the usual, nervous pleasantries which seemed inappropriate, I brashly asked, “Mr. Wright, what do you think of the work of Mies Van der Rohe?�

Without hesitation, he answered, “The only thing decent that he ever did was the Barcelona Pavilion and he copied me on that.� “Well then, whose work do you like?� I followed. “I like some of what Bruce Goff is doing and there is Nervi.�

This confirmed my own feelings about Mies and Nervi, but I was a bit perplexed about his affection for Goff for I eventually found that although he worshipped Wright at first, he had rebelled against his constraining unit system of design. He was also an “outside-in� designer, an artist-sculptor like Corbusier whose works were sculptural for the purpose of outside effects. While he used nature as inspiration, he did not abstract either forms or principles in the way that Wright did. His work was totally free of constraints or formalistic principle. I would later learn that Mr. Wright did question him severely about the “little bit of everything� that was in the design of the Joe Price House in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The house was the work of an artist, not an architect, full of hundreds of disconnected effects from coal, shattered smelter glass, hand-placed sequin designs on glass, stone, concrete, hanging silvered-plastic, windows cut in the walls abstractly - everything for the avant-garde shopper in aesthetic tricks.

But our conversation did move to the practical. “I have had at times, to turn down clients because they sought to use me as their draftsman. I pick my clients well. Guess you boys won’t be able to do that and make a living.� Why Mr. Wright did not mention some of his more faithful followers such as Green, Jones, Hill, Besinger, DeLong, et al practicing outside the Fellowship I cannot even speculate.

He continued with his more practical “you boys� discussion about clients and collaboration with other architects. He went into some detail about
his negative experiences with the design and execution of the Biltmore Hotel down in the valley nearby. In the years that have since gone by and coped with clients and architects of my own, I was struck by how right he was about what we would face later in architectural practices of our own.

On another occasion during the regular week, I encountered him near the fountain between Gene’s office and the studio where he had been doing his usual morning office work and now was going to his design work.

“Mr. Wright, why is that you place the wood dentils along the fascias of the roof edge about the buildings here at Taliesin West. Why is this ornament integral and not merely applied just as the revivalist designers do?�

“Nature is intrinsically romantic. See how she also ornaments her works with flowers. Her ornamentation is integral to her very being. It is integral for it cannot be whole without it. Organic ornament is the extra aesthetic delight which takes mere building into the realm of true architecture.�

I was not fully satisfied with the justification of ornament but it has seeped into me over the years nevertheless. But he was trying to help us as to what we might eventually face and to think more philosophically about beauty.

From one of the older apprentices, I eventually learned that Mr. Wright early on attempted to have the Sunday morning events occur in his little Unitarian Church there in the Wisconsin River valley perhaps like he had experienced church there as a child. Perhaps it was that many of his apprentices did not share his Unitarian beliefs even about unity or a god that was known to him only through nature and the teaching of the great prophets such as Jesus and those of oriental religions.

Yet our Sunday morning breakfasts were perhaps a more evolutionary adaptation of his original family church services. It was he now, that gave the sermon taking over the torch handed down to him from his Unitarian minister grandfather, then uncles and even his own converted father. He disdained his own father for leaving his mother, yet it was his ministry and practice of serious music that so shaped his own attitudes. He was a very religious man in his own terms.

He was a social philosopher, an educator, teacher, engineer, visionary technologist, a musician, an architect and lastly, a preacher. l am saddened yet thankful that not only did I have the opportunity to hear his last sermons during our weekend breakfasts in the desert, but that I recognize them as having been religious events where great ideas were presented.
Frank Laraway, architect, was apprenticed at Taliesin in 1958-59. He is a regular contributor to the Newletter. He lives and works in Silverhill, Alabama

I also found Mr. Laraway's review of Ken Burns' PBS video on FLW:
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

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Post by SDR »

Thank you, Paul.

What Wrightian would not want to have read Mr Laraway on the the ultimate Mr Wright---Wright condensed to his essence ?

And, two reviews of the now-twenty-year-old Ken Burns treatment of the man and (supposedly) of his work; what a bonus.

Bravo . . .


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

Post by Roderick Grant »

The Burns video was as respectable as Brendan Gill's "Many Masks." Burns obviously did not know anything about architecture (or jazz, for that matter), so he got a list of so-called experts to fill the long video with their ramblings. Of the interviewees, only William Cronon, Edgar Tafel and the 3 Wrights - Eric, David and Tim - should have appeared. (One couple whom Burns interviewed for 2 hours, Roland and Ronnie Reisley, were deleted from the final film.)

Since there is a very fine documentary by BBC - "The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright," written and directed by Murray Grigor (1983) - there is no need to bother about the Burns video.

True, the Grigor film focused on the work, with the biographical elements along for the ride, but in all the narrative (voice-over by Anne Baxter) there is only one minor error - that the skylight in the Barnsdall living room retracted, an old rumor that won't die. At a brief appearance at a FLWBC event in the Rookery Lobby, Burns, who had obviously heard rumblings, was very defensive about his work, insisting it was intended to be about the man, rather than about his work. But that certainly was false, and the various assessments of FLW's work in the documentary ran the gamut.

That, along with the 9-hour "Jazz," led me to assume that as a historian, Burns fails. He depends on persons who are at least suspected of being experts on the subject, and does not question their bona fides.

Paul Ringstrom
Posts: 4296
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2005 4:53 pm
Location: Mason City, IA

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

Roderick Grant wrote:He depends on persons who are at least suspected of being experts on the subject and does not question their bona fides.
In order to intelligently question someone, the interviewer must know something about the subject. Therein lies the problem with most media babblers today.
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

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