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Three long-lost buildings from Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House are beginning to rise from the ground.
Brick by brick.
Nine masons were at work on Wednesday, troweling mortar onto specially kilned golden-yellow bricks to build Wright's 100-foot-long covered pergola. It's being replicated along with his conservatory and carriage house. All three are expected to be completed by mid-summer 2006.
"We're rebuilding history like this exactly like it was done, and the way it stood here a hundred years ago," said foreman Greg Schiltz. "We don't get to do this every day."
"There is great attention to detail on this job," said Jared Hojnowski as he mixed mortar in a tin trough. "I've never been on a job quite like this before."
Project architect Ted Lownie of Hamilton Houston Lownie Architects beamed as he watched Wright's exacting details take shape, down to the two types of mortar the nation's foremost architect selected to emphasize the brick's recessed horizontal joints and the appearance of a straight line.
"What you're seeing is architecture being created in front of your eyes. Real architecture," Lownie said.
The brickwork is the most tangible evidence yet that the dream of full restoration of the Martin House, begun 13 years ago with the formation of the Martin House Restoration Corp., is real. The new phase follows a year of excavation, foundation work and placement of mechanical systems.
Finding a brickmaker wasn't easy. It took nine years and inquiries into companies in five countries before Belden Brick Co. of Canton, Ohio, was chosen for its manufacturing skills in producing the slender, golden-yellow bricks Wright chose a century ago.
"We went through far more trouble than I ever would have anticipated," said John C. Courtin, executive director of the Martin House Restoration Corp. He stood near some of the 50,000 bricks - half of what will be needed - now stored on the grounds.
It's expected the completed prairie-style home - Wright's lone multi-structure residential commission - will be a tourist magnet.
"This is the only Wright building that's ever been done like this," said Courtin. "There have been buildings he designed that were built after his death, but this is the first time a city has summoned the will to rebuild a lost Frank Lloyd Wright building."
Wright developed the Jewett Parkway residence for wealthy Larkin Soap Co. executive Darwin D. Martin. He designed a summer residence for Martin in Derby that is also under reconstruction.
The Martin house, completed in 1906, changed hands through the years and fell into serious disrepair. The pergola, conservatory and carriage house were demolished about a half-century ago, replaced by apartments that were torn down in 2001.
Other work is going on at the site. While the pergola's brick walls were under construction, concrete finishers were framing the conservatory floor, using light steel beams moved by an excavator. The foundation of the carriage house - the largest of the three structures, where Martin garaged his horse-and-buggy and later, four Pierce-Arrow automobiles - was not as far along but will be soon, Courtin said.
Tours of the Martin House, including the construction area, are available. A Web cam view of the site can also be accessed. For more information, visit www.darwinmartinhouse.org.
http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20 ... 069868.asp
I visited my old home town a year or two ago, and finally got to see the open space between the house and conservatory free of that horrid apartment building put up when the lot was subdivided. What a revelation!
They had just started to excavate for the pergola, and it's fantastic that construction has started. Imagine the thrill it is at the craftsman level. This will undoubtedly be a major gold star renovation when completed, I think in the neighborhood of $20-30 million dollars.
BTW, my dad initiated my interest in Wright by insisting on taking me into the city to see a "wierd" house, 40 years ago. We spent the day milling around the abandoned ruins as Wrights magic took hold of me at 14 years old. It's great to see that "wierd" house resurrected. I can't wait to mill around it again after the renovation!
rgrant wrote:After I retire next year, I hope to take The Grand Tour of Wright buildings in the Northeast from Zimmerman to Taliesin, with overnights at Penfield, Schwartz and Peterson. (In fact, the Conservancy should set up a Grand Tour program for us unrepentant acolytes.) Then I can die.
Suggestion to Rodney Grant (rgrant): Now is not too soon to book your reservations at Peterson, Penfield & Schwartz. As someone who spent part of October 2004 at Seth Peterson, I know from experience that we made those reservations in Jan 2002! I went to the Penfield webpage this spring to book a couple days in September and EVERY DAY through November was already booked. If you plan ahead, it sounds like a great trip!
By Kurt Shaw
TRIBUNE-REVIEW ART CRITIC
Sunday, September 18, 2005
The fall is always the perfect time to visit Fallingwater, legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece located in Mill Run in Fayette County's Laurel Highlands, and there may be no better day than Thursday.
That's because this Thursday will mark the 70th anniversary of the morning Wright received a surprise phone call at his Wisconsin compound known as Taliesin. The caller was none other than Pittsburgh department store magnate Edgar J. Kaufmann, who was in Milwaukee a few hours away, and announced he was driving out to see Wright's progress on the drawings for the summerhouse he commissioned Wright to create at Bear Run.
As legend has it, Wright got off the phone and quickly went about designing the building in two hours.
Whether you believe it or not, there will be no denying Wright's genius come next month, when the Carnegie Museum of Art's Heinz Architectural Center opens "Frank Lloyd Wright: Renewing the Legacy," an exhibition that examines two more masterful buildings from the world-renowned architect's oeuvre -- the Darwin D. Martin house (1903-05) in Buffalo, N.Y., and the H.C. Price Co. Office Tower and Apartments (1952-56) in Bartlesville, Okla.
The former is one of the best examples of Wright's Prairie House period. The latter is one of the artist's last realized works, and a rare example of an organic high-rise. The exhibition opens Oct. 1 and runs through Jan. 15.
But hey, we're getting ahead of ourselves as far what's happening art-wise this fall in the 'Burgh. Also this Thursday, The Frick Art & Historical Center in Point Breeze opens "To Observe and Imagine: British Drawings and Watercolors, 1600-1900."
On loan from The Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City, the exhibition features a selection of 102 drawings and watercolors that charts three centuries of British art history by encompassing a number of artistic modes and genres, among them landscapes, portraits, scenes of urban life, architectural renderings, figurative and nature studies, literary illustrations and still lifes.
The exhibition includes works of art by many of the leading figures in the history of art, including J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), John Constable (1776-1837), Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88), Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82) and Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-98). The exhibition will run through the end of the year.
Also running through the end of 2005 will be the exhibition "General Idea Editions: 1967-1995," which opens Oct. 8 at The Andy Warhol Museum.
Canada's best-known collaborative team of artists, General Idea's Jorge Zontal, AA Bronson and Felix Partz came to international attention for their incisive interventions into contemporary media society in the late 1960s and early '70s. The exhibition, which will include more than 200 prints, postcards, posters, photo-based projects, series publications, flags and crests, covers more than two and a half decades of installations and unique works produced by General Idea between 1968 and '94.
Come November, vintage photographs will be dropped into the Carnegie Museum of Art like so many fall leaves when the museum opens two unprecedented exhibitions of mid-century Pittsburgh photographs on Nov. 5.
One, titled "Luke Swank: Modernist Photographer," will feature the work of Pittsburgh photographer Luke Swank (1890-1944), one of the pioneers of Modernism in photography. The other, "Witness to the Fifties," will contain selected images from The Pittsburgh Photographic Library, a collection of some 20,000 photographs of the city taken between 1950 and '54 that can be found in the Carnegie Library's Pennsylvania Department. Both will run through February.
As for what else is happening, the current exhibition of Hudson River School paintings, "American Scenery," at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art will continue through Oct. 23, followed by the annual Holiday Toy and Train Exhibition, which opens Nov. 20. And the Mattress Factory will open "Messages & Communications" -- another large-scale exhibition of installation art by local, national and internationally renown installation artists -- on Oct. 2.
Kurt Shaw can be reached at email@example.com.
http://pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-rev ... 73384.html
The project has a long way yet to go but since the funding seems to be in place it will all happen. There is still one last 50s apartment building left to be demolished and replaced with the new visitor center. The house itself is in fine condition but needs some serious polishing and a restored kitchen. There is currently no furniture in the house due to the work and colors, windows, treatments, etc. are yet to be done.
One thing I liked about the tour I took was being able to see bedrooms, bathrooms and the kitchen - places you do not always see in historic house tours.
If you are interested in restoration, this would be a great tour to repeat as the changes occur. The end results of this project promise to be magnificent!
Also in the master bedroom, there has to be a couple of the narrowest art windows Wright ever did-they can't be more than an inch wide!