John Randal McDonald home on the Market

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Post by JimM »

Roderick Grant wrote:But I still hate the risers.
Yea, the stairs need a dimmer, but it still has a "go-go stage" look.

That said, this is what a truly Wright inspired house looks like, no matter what JRM did or did not intone. It's almost camp in it's successful homage to the usonian cause. You can tell original thought went into it, not a tacked on menu of predictable elements.

He may have emulated Frank's persona, but not the architecture. His respect for it was obvious, and his work does stand on its own.

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Location: Battle Lake, MN

Lighted stair risers

Post by dkottum »

A real nice house. We may see those stair risers and think of the stone stairs at Fallingwater as the standard. Before I would give up on them, I would try some very low wattage bulbs in them, which I suspect was JRMcD's intent. This house is Usonian in concept with much original thought.

Doug Kottum, Battle Lake

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

I had an opportunity to talk to the owner yesterday and among many interesting things she told me about the house the one that might be of interest to those on this chat board was that the cedar shakes that dominate the front of the house were installed by the second owner. The original was horizontal cedar siding, which is still there below the shakes if the next owner wanted to restore it properly. Also, the garage, of course, was originally a carport, but was enclosed because it became a wind chamber with gusts from the west over the lake. Also, she has the original blueprints that she plans on passing on to the new owner. She was an architecture buff and had visited many of Wright's buildings over the years. This house might be included in the 2008 Wright & Like tour of the Columbus, WI area. There is also a Russel Barr Williamson house nearby.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The siding does make a tremendous difference. With the original, it would have an entirely different aspect. The puzzlement is that the second owners thought the shingles would be an improvement.

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

With the way the front of the house is canted backward with siding applied instead of shingles it probably resembled the way Wright usually did balconies during the 50s where each horizontal course is stepped out from the one below it.

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

Price has been recently reduced from $420K to $389K.

Last edited by Paul Ringstrom on Mon Jun 16, 2008 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

This house was on the 2008 Wright and Like housewalk. The new owner (Fr. Brian Beno) is a longtime friend and fan of John Randal McDonald and his work. He has furnished it with several pieces of JRM-designed furniture. Those of you who did not care for the previous owner's decorating taste would be pleased with the new decor.

Also, many on this board criticized the cedar shakes on the front of this building. The new owner had on display the original presentation drawings done by JRM for the original client. It shows that the original building had horizontal cedar siding where the shakes are now. This resulted in the look of the house being much more horizontal. The shakes were added during one of the remodeling projects, probably when the bedroom configuration was modified.

Hopefully the new owner, being sensitive to JRM's design, will reverse this alteration.

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Post by RJH »

I had the chance to see this house on Wright and Like 2008. I was pleasantly surprised. Proved again you must go inside in order to judge the design.

The layout was very nice and the view of the lake was beautiful. The shiplap inside was amazing and I could only imagine how much that would cost to do today. Don’t know what type of wood it was? I didn’t get to see the bedrooms as they were closed off on the our. An interesting feature was there was a “utility room� that was halfway underground with windows all around. Well done! Previous owners added a screened in porch, which impedes with the sunken utility room. Only noticed the exterior wood shakes upon leaving. Great house for someone wanting a Wright design. Before this, Fr. Beno owned another McDonald design for 13 years.

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John Randal McDonald

Post by Wrightgeek »

I also saw this home on the Wright and Like tour, and I was quite suprised by how much I really liked what I was able to see of the house.

I think the front elevation would benefit from a return to the original siding as designed by the architect, but it was not offensive in its current state. The site that the house sits on is beautiful, and the house takes advantage of the views quite well.

My only complaints would be with the backlit stair risers, which look very cheesy, and are totally unnecessary and out of place with the rest of the interior, and with the screen porch, which is an unsympathetic addition in its current form. I do believe that a skilled designer could turn this screen room into a beneficial addition to the house, whereas now it is just an ill-suited appendage.

BTW, the owners were very gracious and friendly, and are obviously very thrilled to be the stewards of this residence. Their pride of ownership was both obvious and infectious. Really nice folks.

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Post by Wrighter »

Oh, I dunno, I kind of liked the stairs--I thought they were a bit of fun, as the Brits say. There's something about this, and the other JRM house on the tour this year, that "swings"--you can imagine them as a set in a Dean Martin as Matt Helm film. (Was that the name of the spy he played?). So the lights in that way really seemed to fit, if you like that sort of thing.

I agree with other posters about the front shingles. But they resulted in an interesting experience. They are quite off-putting from the street, and reveal nothing of the interior. The result is a most pleasant experience once you are actually inside the house, which then goes on to exceed your expectations quite famously (whether this is because those expectations are so low based on the front of the house, I'm not sure).

I especially enjoyed the JRM furniture that the owner had obtained from another JRM design. The lamp on the dining room table and the stacked side table in the living room were very memorable.

I'll echo others about the owners--very nice both in offering the house for the tour and then being on hand.

Eric Saed
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Post by Eric Saed »

I've nothing really new to add, I guess...but this was my favorite house on the W+L tour, in terms of a house I could see myself living in.

I didn't mind the shingle siding, it's not totally unheard of in Wrightian architecture- Herb Fritz did it quite a bit. And, since I am an aficionado of some of the more, ahem, "tacky" aspects of mid-century modernism, I totally loved the illuminated staircase.

I guess the one subtle thing I loved the most about this house that I've not seen before was the continuation of the interior "light deck" (lowered lighting soffit) to the exterior above the garage door.

Paul Ringstrom
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Re: John Randal McDonald home on the Market

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

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

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Re: John Randal McDonald home on the Market

Post by SDR »

Russell Barr Williamson (four pairs of double letters in one name !) is to Wright's Prairie-period work as John Randal McDonald is to Wright's mid-century output ?


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