FLW's Forgotten House

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Paul Ringstrom
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Location: Mason City, IA

FLW's Forgotten House

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

DRN
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Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by DRN »

That was the most intelligent, substantive, and well written interview with an author plugging a book I have ever read.

Makes me want to buy a book.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by SDR »

The right interviewer; the right interviewee. How often does that happen . . .? Good stuff.

S

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

Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by SDR »

I have located 10 drawing sheets for ASBH Model 203, the hipped-roof version of this house, in the Artstor files. I found five of the drawings by scanning the thumbnail images on the 22 pages of files under "Wright Richards"---where they were scattered randomly---before discovering that they could be easily found by adding the seven-digit Taliesin file numbers for the drawings to the query box. So, "Wright Richards 1506.292" brings up the first of the ten drawings, the floor framing plan.

The list:
1506.292 Floor framing plan
1506.293 Ceiling joist plan
1506.294 Wall stud plan
1506.295 Front, rear elevations
1506.296 Long section
1506.297 Roof plan
1506.298 Side, entry elevations
1506.299 Cross section
1506.300 Basement plan
1506.301 Floor plan

https://library.artstor.org/#/search/Wr ... =1;size=48

The flat-roofed version of the design, Model 201, with its attractive horizontal moldings tying exterior openings to each other, is found just prior to Model 203---that is, before .292---in the file. I didn't look for Model 202, the gable roofed version.

S

Roderick Grant
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Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by Roderick Grant »

Charming house, not unlike the small cottage on Burnham.

The porch, as shown in the elevation, was intended to be open, while as-built it may have been enclosed, or enclosed at a later date. I wonder if that element, which was, or was to be, quite handsome, will be restored. In the Wisconsin climate, it is not unreasonable to enclose a porch that could not otherwise be used during inclement conditions, but I noticed, in my Minnesota youth, that even enclosed porches were unlikely to be used during the winter. Ours was just the space traversed from the storm door to the front door during the winter, while in summertime, 4 of the storm windows were replaced with screens, which made it a pleasant place on hot summer evenings.

Also, the exterior walls were intended to be stucco. Is the existing board finish original or not? Even the chimney is clapboard! I cannot imagine FLW wanting that.

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

Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by SDR »

Those who, having chased down the drawings of ASBH A-203, wonder (as I did)why the front of the house is not L-shaped

https://onmilwaukee.com/images/articles ... awings.jpg

will come to realize that the house has been placed on its lot "sideways"---that is, with the entrance at the side of the house rather than facing the street. The difference between the detailing of the two horizontal window bands is owing to the fact that one of them originally served the open-air porch. Although it might have been possible for a conscientious owner to carefully mimic Wright's unique fenestration detailing, this was---all too understandably---not done.


One wants to keep an eye on writer Bobby Tanzilo. His piece on the ASBH project links the reader to another of his columns:
https://onmilwaukee.com/articles/baby-bogk-house

S

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

Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by SDR »

Here is that plan. As drawn it is oriented as built, with the long living-room window band facing the street (if we assume the street to be at the bottom of the sheet). As the subject house has its (added) porch widows on the right instead of the left, we can know that the plan has been flopped, so the entrance and porch are on the right instead of the left.


Image

ndhayes
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Location: Elizabeth Murphy House, Shorewood, WI
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Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by ndhayes »

The construction drawings for the model A203 show the Front Elevation as the side with the garden - 32 feet wide with 24 feet of window or porch opening(s). It is also the side featuring the most dramatic chimney view/perspective.

Drawing 1506.295 shows the floor plan as intended https://elizabethmurphyhouse.files.word ... 06.295.jpg

*Front / Rear Elevation. American System-Built (Ready-Cut) houses for The Richards Company, Floor Plan, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives: architectural drawings, ca. 1885–1959. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York) 1506.295

The Elizabeth Murphy House was constructed in mirror opposite to the plan - since the existing house to the east was slightly more set back than the house on the west, offering a clearer view to the walk /street from the porch. The composite discussed above and shown here https://onmilwaukee.com/images/articles ... awings.jpg was created for promotional purposes and the draftsman (presumably Russell Williamson) turned the floor-plan to fit four views onto one page.

Paul Ringstrom
Posts: 4500
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2005 4:53 pm
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Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

I have read A LOT of books on FLW, but this one may be one of the best. The author, a non-academic, writes in a clear crisp way and his insights into FLW, RBW and Arthur Richards are quite unique and based on the facts at hand. I encourage you to read this book.

BTW: The original stucco did not last, thus the siding. The open porch was enclosed and heated and became the master bedroom at one point, in order to add more sq ft to the original 960 sf house.
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

Admin
Site Admin
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Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by Admin »

Chiming in just to let everyone know that the Conservancy is working with Nicholas Hayes to offer a virtual tour of the Murphy House this coming weekend! It's free for Conservancy members, you just need to register online. Details are here: https://savewright.org/events/conservancy-events/

ndhayes
Posts: 41
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2021 3:05 pm
Location: Elizabeth Murphy House, Shorewood, WI
Contact:

Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by ndhayes »

Paul Ringstrom wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:17 am
I have read A LOT of books on FLW, but this one may be one of the best. The author, a non-academic, writes in a clear crisp way and his insights into FLW, RBW and Arthur Richards are quite unique and based on the facts at hand. I encourage you to read this book.
Paul,
I am touched to read this. I was hoping to use the record to represent relationships that were so strained at the end as to be worthy of omission. Hope you don't mind that we made yours the featured quote on a book-feedback page: https://elizabethmurphyhouse.com/2021/0 ... ten-house/. Let me know if you'd like it clawed back.
Please visit. We're one state apart.
Thanks again, Nick

ndhayes
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Location: Elizabeth Murphy House, Shorewood, WI
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Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by ndhayes »

Members who were unable to attend the FLWBC virtual tour earlier this month are invited to join a conversation with Taliesin's Catherine Boldt and me about Wright's ASBH Model A203, the Elizabeth Murphy House. We'll feature a fly-thru virtual tour and talk about how the ASBH program came to its tumultuous end. Monday, May 17 at 7pm Central. Hope you can join us: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/registe ... 7zLd8ISeNA

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

Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by SDR »

Nick

I enjoyed greatly your new book. It's a real page-turner, in fact---to an architecture and a Wright buff, at least ! The writing, and the production as well, are excellent.

A curious omission is any mention of the "pre-cut" aspect of the ASBH program: Richards's "lumber yard" is mentioned a couple of times, but the manufacturing of the kit of parts---how, and where, and by whom---is not addressed. Perhaps because so few of the houses were ordered and built, a proper manufacturing facility was never set up ? The five or six buildings of the Burnham Row seem to have been built before the system was fully operational, if I read the story correctly---in a way somewhat comparable to the 100 Cord 810 autos that had to be built by hand in order to qualify for entry into that year's national auto shows, before the factory was actually equipped to produce them in quantity ?

Perhaps this was an intentional omission, leaving you time and room to address the other aspects of the story ?

Another item that caught my eye: one of the advantages said to accrue from the system was a building both economical and of superior quality. How would you assess the quality of the workmanship in your or other ASBH homes, as compared to that of conventionally-built houses---Wright's, or others ? How much actual factory milling do you observe---in the compound miters of the window surrounds, for instance, or in rabbets and dadoes of the joinery ? Were these pioneering houses largely hand-cut, in fact ?

Thanks for a fascinating read, and for the depth of the research you conducted in order to achieve the result. I greatly enjoyed it !

Steve

ndhayes
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Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by ndhayes »

Steve,

Thanks so much. And excellent questions:

1.) I read the progression this way: the Burnham Block was a trial run, a place to make and test prototypes. I doubt that Richards had vertically-integrated much supply chain for it, but bought from sources he already knew. In some cases, I think, he fabricated what might become standards later, just to test concepts. This seems to have happened with the Byrkit. https://elizabethmurphyhouse.com/2021/0 ... -the-same/

2.) But when things got going, they began to automate! All the interior woodwork in this home appears to have come from a sophisticated milling shop that had been properly "tooled" for repeatability. Window frame sections have the tooth marks from mill feeding systems. Profiles are exact from one board to another. Importantly, we see the exact milling marks on boards from homes near Chicago. Finally, there are many labels and stamps referencing the company and the system part numbers found in our home.

3.) I've not seen mention of the location of Richard's operation. I sense that it was not far from here - in, perhaps, what is now the Riverwest neighborhood near the tracks, though I am only guessing. (Richard's dad was important in Milwaukee and "Richards Street" was named for him. Its location may indicate where the family made investments, both retail and industrial.)

Still, the program wasn't completely turnkey. For the commercial ASBH's, Richards bought from many sources. For example, pine for joists and studs was procured from the Landeck Lumber company near Crandon Wisconsin. https://www.wxpr.org/post/end-era-fores ... y#stream/0. And we see evidence in the homes that hardware was supplied by local purveyors.

4.) As you read in the book, the craftsmanship here is questionable. That seems to be more about the fact that our builder had no support and wasn't getting paid. Many of the other ASBHs have tighter fits and finishes than we see.

5.) Finally, what was pre-cut? I think wood was milled to profile in the factory and then cut to lengths by the carpenter on the job site and that windows and doors were factory made. We have some evidence for this: a section of trim has the total number of board feet required for the house written in crayon by a lumber yard clerk. And the mortising and tenoning of window frames was well-planned and replicated. Here is some of what we have learned on that subject: https://elizabethmurphyhouse.com/2021/0 ... -richards/

This was a subject area where I was relying too much on conjecture and running out of breadcrumbs, so it didn't make the book's peer review/editorial cuts. If anyone has clues to share and that I might chase down, I'd love to start working on the 2nd edition.

-Nick

DRN
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Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Re: FLW's Forgotten House

Post by DRN »

Nick.
I just finished your book. As SDR noted, it is indeed a page turner, and a well written/researched one at that.

A question relative to the ledger you noted in the book that was kept by Wright and/or Richards:
Does the ledger indicate ASBH's that were sold/built that we do not know of today? OR, does the ledger indicate fewer ASBH's sold/built than what we know of today?

Was there any mention in the ledger of a house in Lake Bluff, IL? W.A. Storrer attributes a house in that town to Wright as an ASBH that has similarities to a C-3, but many alterations apparently made during the original construction obscure that lineage if it is indeed accurate. I'm led to wonder if at the end of the Wright Richards relationship, some ASBH components may have been sold to builders as just components not as house sets...this might explain the Lake Bluff house's ASBH similarities and marked deviations.

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