Mahony/Burley Griffin/Niedecken Home for sale...

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hypnoraygun
Posts: 561
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 1:28 pm
Location: Missouri

Mahony/Burley Griffin/Niedecken Home for sale...

Post by hypnoraygun »

I was on a recent trip and saw this Home for sale in Decatur, IL. It is described as a "1911 Adolph Mueller Home: A unique Prairie School Treasure by Marion Mahony- Chief designer / delineator to Frank Lloyd Wright - in collaboration with Architect Walter Burley Griffin and Interior Architect George Mann Niedecken."

http://resource.realtor.com/display/def ... 8&rt=21859

If that doesn't work, try this..

http://resource.realtor.com/display/def ... 1&rt=21348

And go to Featured homes. IT is the one for 575K. It is two houses down from a Wright Designed home. Very cool "street".

It was very impressive from the outside!

SDR
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Post by SDR »

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Images are from "The Prairie School," H A Brooks, pp 158-160. Although she was not given formal credit for the design (nor is Griffin's
name mentioned; Mahony was the employee of Von Holst and Fyfe with the understanding that she would be in control of design), Professor
Brooks says "it may safely be considered the most complete, authentic house ever built to her designs."

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

It's just up the street from Robert Mueller and Irving, both FLW commissions which were worked on by MMG while FLW was in Europe, R. Mueller to the virtual elimination of anything FLW might have conceived. Adolph's (Robert's brother) plan is rather prosaic, but the living room is striking. There is also some strong connection in detailing to the work of Von Holst that clouds authorship.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

H Allen Brooks (1972) and W Allin Storrer (1992) cannot seem to agree on the place of Marion Mahony Griffin in these houses; we have Mahony's statement, found in an unpublished manuscript (p 170, "The Magic of America," New York Historical Society, n.d.) quoted by Brooks:

"after [Wright] had gone Mr von Holz [sic], who had taken over, asked me to join him so I did on the definite arrangement that I should have control of the designing. That suited him. When the absent architect didn't bother to answer anything that was sent over to him, the relations were broken and I entered into partnership with von Holz [sic] and Fyfe. For that period I had great fun designing."

I have certainly not kept up with either the scholarship or the gossip that must have taken place in the last 35 years since that quote was published; I hope some kind of consensus has been reached (despite personal preferences ?) on the authorship of the five commissions that were dealt with after 1910. Brooks notes that the Robert Mueller house has the peculiarity (?) of failing to consistently terminate the major cross-axes as the others do.

This house also has an unusual way of elevating the dining and other "back-of-house" rooms above the entry, living room and den: three risers occur both in the pasage behind the chimney and in the opening to its right. "The way the various rooms open off the changing level corridor is very pleasant, as a maximum amount of spacial variety and interest in thus achieved," says Professor Brooks (pp159-60).

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pharding
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Post by pharding »

The Adolph Mueller House is rather muddled. Undoubtedly reflecting all of the people that worked on the design. I respect Marion Mahony and her fine contribution to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Within the staff of every great architect there are always fine contributors.
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

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

There are those who would say MMG was responsible for the entirety of R. and A. Mueller, Irving and Amberg, but I don't buy it. A quick glance at MMG's incontrovertible designs, such as the Henry Ford Project, show her to be a designer of decidedly limited talent when it came to laying out floorplans (her contributions to the detailing of FLW's and WBG's work was estimable). Irving is assuredly mostly FLW, with some adjustments in scale late in the process probably done by VH. Whatever FLW did on R. Mueller was trampled by reworking the place into a tortured plan with a too-tall elevation. The arrangement of the entrance with the vista into the dining room is not FLW at all. Amberg, I suspect, was roughly sketched by FLW and developed by MMG, again with help from VH. The way the house is cramped onto its lot suggests to me that FLW paid no attention to lot lines, and MMG/VH squeezed the house to fit; the street facade should be 10 to 15 feet longer. If FLW had anything whatsoever to do with A. Mueller, I would be surprised, but MMG had help from VH.

pharding
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Post by pharding »

The plans are a muddle of tradition planning and FLW ideas. The entrance to the Adolph Mueller House is rather bombastic unlike the wonderful concealed or low key entrances of FLW. Clearly MMG needed FLW looking over her shoulder providing guidance to arrive at a quality solution.
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

SDR
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Post by SDR »

It is certainly fascinating to see how strong was the influence of Mr Wright's work and how hard some of his followers worked to emulate it, each in his or her own way, both in the early period and in the late one as well.

SDR

Mackintosh
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Post by Mackintosh »

What a surprise that the FLW fanatics are knocking Marion's design? Let's not question the master. Just because it might be muddled, then of course FLW had absolutely nothing to do with the house? I'm sorry but FLW was not a perfect architect. I have been in many of his houses and some layouts are not the greatest.

pharding
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Post by pharding »

In my opinion it it does not work well to to convince others that your point of view is correct and that another point of view is flawed by labeling other posters here as "fanatics" or otherwise initiating personal attacks. As far as questioning suggesting that many of us are a beyond questioning the person that you refer to as the "master". We have made many discussions that did in fact question some of his decisions, both design and personal. I would agree that some of FLW's plans had flaws in them as you suggest. However those two houses in question turn away from advances in architectural design that FLW's Prairie Houses embodied. In my opinion they are designs in the manner of Frank Lloyd Wright and are not particularly skillfully executed for what ever reason. They have regressed into a bunch of rooms in a semi-Victorian manner, that lack the wonderful free-flowing quality of FLW's Prairie Houses that we saw beginning in 1900 with Bradley and Hickox. The fireplace as this wonderful core has been lost in those houses. In the Adolph Mueller House the entrance is hyped in importance when FLW would have down played it or hidden it completely.

As far as the houses being MMG's design, it is my understanding that the Adolph Mueller House started out as a FLW project only to be passed on to Von Holst who hired MMG. MMG worked on the projects as an employee of Von Holst. Just because she makes claims about her role in the design does not make that factual. In her interviews with Grant Carpenter Manson she comes off rather bitter about those that she worked for and makes claims that to me do not appear completely truthful. Grant Carpenter Manson left those unsubstantiated, bitter claims out of his seminal book. In my opinion the facts point to her as being a fine contributor as opposed to a great architect in her own right. She deserves to recognized as fine contributor. Some want to rewrite history and anoint her as a great architect. Unfortunately one cannot point to buildings that she is the author as opposed to being a contributor that are great works.
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

SDR
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Post by SDR »

I have found that I tend to give credence to whichever source came to my attention earliest. The first book that I read will become the authority, not easily dislodged. . .


Whoever designed these lanterns has my thanks! And thanks to Mr Storrer (once again) for the photo.

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Bristling with cubes, these may relate to the table lamp at Susan Lawrence Dana. Or could that (the Dana lamp) be a Niedecken design. . .?

SDR

SDR
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Post by SDR »

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Dana house

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Robie house
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Robie lamp, removed by second owner




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Above two images from "The Prairie School Tradition" (Spencer; 1979)

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Now that's furnitecture. . .!

Shown in Diane Maddex, "50 Favorite Furnishings by Frank Lloyd Wright":

"IRVING TABLE-COUCH

A desk. . .was made for the house of Edward and Florence Irving in Decatur, Illinois. One of the projects orphaned when Wright departed for Europe in 1909, it was left in the hands of Hermann von Holst, who in turn called on one of Wright's ablest employees to help him. Marion Mahony, an architect, had joined Wright's office in 1895 and spent the next fourteen years preparing exquisite presentation drawings and assisting Wright with designs for his furnishings. George Mann Niedecken joined her in executing the Irving furnishings. A skilled designer well versed in progressive interiors, European and American, Niedecken -- like Mahony -- could almost read Wright's mind when it came to fleshing out the furnishings. Mahony, however, asserted that the conception of the Irving furnishings rested with her. The unique table-couch-desk-lamp combination created for the living room fits perfectly into the Wrightian system of built-ins that mark interior architectural boundaries. Placed close to the fireplace, with its sumac and prairie-flower mural by Niedecken, the couch would have allowed one of the residents to lounge against pillows or sit beneath a large box of a lamp (now lost), while another could work at the oak fall-front desk secluded in the pier. On the dramatically cantilevered table sat a custom-designed lump. Either separately or together, the Irvings would have been able to enjoy the fire, not to mention the satisfaction of using a piece of furniture so thoughtfully crafted. Planes intersect freely, and light meets dark, much like the fireplace and the exterior of the house, one of a trio bearing Mahony's mark in the small Millikin Place community."

D. Shawn Beckwith
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Niedecken influence

Post by D. Shawn Beckwith »

The wealth of information from the contributors to this chat is priceless.
At the Westcott House the Architectural team ( Chambers, Murphy Burge, Schooley Caldwell) wondered if Mr. Niedecken had an influence on this house due to a newspaper article soon after the house was built which commented on the dining room table and " A cleverly stenclied design on the ceiling". Well unfortunately we did perform conservation techniques to several areas of the ceiling but did not find any ghost marks or any evidence of any stenciling or painting as referenced in the article which is also confirmed in the historic photo of the buffett ( no stencil). It was a bummer. The photo of the exterior post light in the earlier post has similarities to the Unity Temple lights and the squared exterior lights of the Westcott House along with the the recessed square design at the base of the Dana THomas light is similar to the hinge we recreated for the entry gate pivot hinges for the Westcott. Does anyone know what actual influence Niedecken had given to FLW? Or is this information an indepth study only obtained by a trip to the Prarie Archives?
Thanks
D. Shawn Beckwith
Project Manager
The Burton J. Westcott House
The Durable Restoration Company
www.durablerestoration.com

SDR
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Post by SDR »

I would never suggest that Wright was influenced by Niedecken; rather, it may be that Wright had confidence in Niedecken's ability to satisfy him in some peripheral matters when necessary. I would be interested to know more -- although I suspect that lack of records, and/or Mr Wright's reluctance to acknowledge any but his own authorship in all his work -- a matter apparently respected by his successors -- makes determination in these matters difficult.

SDR

pharding
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Post by pharding »

There are some excellent books available on Niedecken. He excelled at taking hardline sketches by FLW, or his staff, and creating wonderful well designed and well fabricated furniture and furnishings. Last summer I and two staff members had an opportunity to spend some time measuring and closely inspecting Niedecken chairs and a dining room table from the Gilmore House while it was on display prior to auction. The build quality was phenomenal. The craftsmanship and finishing was superior to recent Wright reproductions. The furniture was incredibly well proportioned, well scaled even for today's larger citizens, and was quite comfortable. The pieces were absolutely amazing. On the other hand I abhor the idea of selling FLW furniture and artwork piece by piece from their original building.
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

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