Samuel Freeman House for Sale

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Tom
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Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:53 pm
Location: Black Mountain, NC

Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by Tom »

I think I need a refresher course in the constrcution of Wright's textile block system.

When I first read what Jeff Chusid said about the walls I assumed at Freeman the walls must have been grouted solid.
But that's incorrect - correct?
The textile block system has no concrete fill in the core - it's airspace. Am I correct about that?
If so then what Chusid is saying is that only the grid of rebar,with grout troweled on, is structural.
Therefore the blocks themselves are structurally superfluous, could be taken out, and the house would stand.
Seems improbable to me too.

So was Freeman built with a solid core of concrete in the walls?
... and am I correct in thinking that Wright's textile block system was meant to have a hollow core - "air space" - no solid fill?

SDR
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by SDR »

Yes, no and maybe. The Textile block system evolved over the period after Hollyhock House and lasted through Ennis, and beyond, as we know. It could be shown, I think, that none of the early houses was exactly like the next, in terms of block form and use.

Your assignment is to go to Artstor and type in, successively, the words

Wright Milllard (and be prepared to weed out the earlier George Madison Millard residence material)
Wright Storer
Wright Freeman
Wright Ennis

and find a section drawing of one or more block walls, for each of those commissions. Then give us the URL for each Artstor page that you have chosen, and we'll have the means for a side-by-side comparison of how the blocks were shaped and deployed, at each stage of the early series.

This is the Artstor link, an address I keep handy on my desktop. https://library.artstor.org/#/search/Wr ... =1;size=48

S

SDR
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by SDR »

Without publisher's or author's permission I will post two illustrations from Volume 8 No 3 of Journal of Organic Architecture + Design, Kathryn Smith ed. A drawing shows a portion of the lower-level plan as drawn by the Historic American Building Survey in 1969. We see a single-wythe wall everywhere, interrupted by 16" square (or larger) piers.

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A photograph, one of many vintage images in the Journal, shows the blocks as they await placement. One gets a realistic idea of their thickness relative to their 16" width and breadth:

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Images and text © 2020 by Kathryn Smith and by OA+D Archives

Craig
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Location: California

Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by Craig »

"The home takes its name from Samuel and Harriet Freeman, a Los Angeles couple with avant-garde tastes who commissioned the building for $10,000 after falling for another Wright property"
Wasn't this the Hollyhock house for Barnsdall? I believe Harriet's sister Leah was a teacher at the kindergarten established on the property and perhaps Harriet taught there as well.
ch

Reidy
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by Reidy »

That's the story I've heard.

Maybe everybody knows this already, but Leah was married to Philip Lovell; after discovering modern architecture through this connection they built with both Schindler and Neutra.

Roderick Grant
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by Roderick Grant »

The structural system at La Min differs significantly from Storer-Freeman-Ennis-Little Dipper, in that the blocks were "male-female" back to back, with only straps of metal placed every third horizontal row. This is obviously why it had fewer structural problems than the others: less steel. Supposedly, in 1922, when Lloyd designed the Henry Bollman House, which used his own version of textile blocks as trim for the west balcony, his take inspired the father to redesign his block. Thereafter, the standard blocks were 16"x16" with an inch-thick face, ~3.5" at the perimeter. The channels for mortar and rebar are 1.5" in diameter. The only alteration from this was at Westhope, where the blocks were 15"x20".

Although HABS drawings are often not to be taken too seriously, the Freeman plan looks right. It is a basic nature of the grid system that makes intuiting elements of plan, elevation and section easy. But the subterranean elements of the lower level street side, entry and garage were surmised ... very likely accurately, but nonetheless not based on observation. The entirety from garage to west end of house is under pavement. The north wall of the lower level showed a major bulge. However, as far as I know, there has never been any excavation under the garage front or the entry. The retaining walls of loggia and laundry (where Schindler added the apartment in 1932) are plumb.

Roderick Grant
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by Roderick Grant »

SDR, concerning the living room rug: In Chusid's book, pages 152 to 167, there are several photos of the living room, both without and with the carpet. Photos before 1953 show a bare floor. One photo, dated 1950, has a store-bought couch where the east couch ended up ... no carpet. Another shows the later west couch in place in 1953, again without carpet. Even the iconic view of Highland Avenue (1972) is carpet-less, while the first photo with a carpet is dated 1986. Frankly, I don't remember whether the floor was carpeted or not when I met with Sam, but since that was in the late 60s, apparently not.

Tom
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by Tom »

It appears that Chusid is presently the Chair of the Architecture, Art, and Planning Department at Cornell.

https://aap.cornell.edu/people/jeffrey-chusid

https://wwnorton.com/books/9780393733020

Roderick Grant
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by Roderick Grant »

Good for Jeff! LA lost a lot when Jeff Chusid moved on to the University of Texas. And now he has moved on to Cornell, the university I would have attended, but for money.

Jeff's book on Freeman is a must-have for any FLW library. My only complaint is that many of the images of drawings are so small as to be unintelligible. I would like to see a version at a larger scale so I could read dimensions.

Two items of interest not previously published: On page 112, there is an elevation of the living room fireplace as FLW intended it, along with a photo and a couple of sketches of the as-built version; on page 140 is a sketch of a 1926 floor plan for a house by RMS for either the Freemans or Sam's parents.

SDR
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by SDR »

Ten pages on Freeman in Robert L Sweeney, "Wright in Hollywood" (1994). I have not copied the endnotes as they contain only the sources of the information.


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Matt2
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by Matt2 »

I can't imagine construction going on for 13 months....or longer. Must be one of the most agonizing construction projects of a Wright design. Does anyone know if the mitered glass is original? The period photo may be the only one I've seen that doesn't look like the corners by the window are deflecting a couple inches.

SDR
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by SDR »

John Lautner's name isn't mentioned often in connection with the Freeman house, but Roderick has informed us several times here that it was he who replaced Wright's failing redwood horizontal glazing bars to the Freeman corner windows, with aluminum, in the 'seventies. Here he is in 2009:

"SDR, you mention that "Freeman has some metal glazing bars." They are not original. In the 70s, the redwood glazing bars in the large corner windows that rise from the bedrooms up to the living room had to be replaced. John Lautner used extruded aluminum, which, unpainted, virtually vanished from view in the sunlight. So Sam Freeman had them painted sometime after 1974 (when I first saw the living room)."

There's much more, if you search here under Freeman + Lautner. viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2500&hilit=Freeman+Lautner+glass

I don't see how the entire fields of glass at Freeman could deflect, without the panes trying to become parallelograms--which they are not able to do. (Didn't Lautner's replacements include some little projection of the horizontals, beyond the corner ?) Here is Wright's original detail. I wonder how he thought the corners would be joined . . .

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SDR
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by SDR »

I regret mentioning that the Freeman bock walls were "single wythe," earlier in the thread, as they of course are not. I was seduced by the HABS drawing, which is insufficiently precise or of too small a scale to show the true nature of the construction. Sweeney unaccountably fails to present a large-scale section drawing through a Freeman or Ennis wall; here is his tiny reproduction of a Storer drawing showing the wall and an outside corner:

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And here is the well-known Neutra drawing for Wright, made contemporaneously with the LA houses, which I now see contains a gross misstatement of the true nature of a Textile Block wall: the "horizontal section" at the bottom of the drawing omits the recesses at the back of the tiles, instead pretending that the section through the steel and grout near a joint is an accurate depiction of the substance of the wall:

Image


Why would Mr Wright favor this drawing---publishing it once more in "The Natural House" in 1954 ? Did he like the fact that it suggests a Textile Block wall that is a bit more substantial than was in fact the case ?

S

Tom
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by Tom »

Never before knew that the above drawing was executed by Nuetra, but now see his monogram in corner of the drawing - very cool.

The living room screen wall at Turkel implies something like Chusids' alleged claim for the walls at Freeman:

https://www.turkelhouse.com/

Roderick Grant
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Re: Samuel Freeman House for Sale

Post by Roderick Grant »

"Didn't Lautner's replacements include some little projection of the horizontals, beyond the corner?"

No. Early photos show small, cubic, wood blocks at the corners, which do not appear in FLW's working drawings. I suspect they were added by Lloyd when it became evident that the redwood transoms were too insubstantial to hold the large sheets of mitered glass at the corners. They were a delightful detail, which Lautner should have replicated in aluminum, but did not. The metal transoms were strong enough to carry the load without any reinforcement at the corners.

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