Robie Lamp house - Wright or Griffin?

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PNB
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Robie Lamp house - Wright or Griffin?

Post by PNB »

About once a month I have a meeting in Madison. After my third or fourth trip I noticed that I had been walking by the Robie Lamp house everytime after I parked my car. I thought once I had read this was really designed by Walter Burley Griffin when he was in FLLW's employ. Looking at the house and imagining the addition removed I can believe this. Is this correct??

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

I've long felt that the published history on this house is questionable, although John Holzhueter's essay in "Frank lloyd Wright and Madison: Eight Decades of Artistic and Social Interaction" (1990) is probably correct. It was never authorship that I questioned, but date. During the depression, the WPA hired writers from across the country to write books about each of the 48 states, with titles like "Maine," "New Hampshire," "Ohio" and so on. The book titled "Wisconsin," about everything you could ever want to know about the state, included an essay by a Minnesota writer who later gained some notoriety as a hard-line Communist. She interviewed Mrs. Lamp, who still lived in the house at the time, and was told that the house had been built in 1895. She would seem to be a credible source, unless dimentia had wiped out 9 years of her life. And the writer, not trained in architecture, would have had no reason to report anything but the truth. This would seem more likely, stylistically than 1904 to me. The same essay noted the existence of a restaurant in Oak Park with interior design by FLW, which had faded from memory until recent evidence turned up to verify it. These books used to be staples in public libraries across the land, but may not be easy to come by any longer.

Randolph C. Henning
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Post by Randolph C. Henning »

Jack Holzheuter's research, scholarship and resulting article would be the most accurate presentation of the Lamp house in Madison, WI. I believe that the design year of the house as built is ca. 1903. The house has some elements that Griffin used in his own (later) personal work. However, in my opinion, that certainly does not mean that the house should be attributed to Griffin as its designer, only that maybe perhaps he might have contributed bits and pieces to the project or basically worked on the project. But this is speculation, not confirmation. Remember too that Lamp and Wright were close friends in their youth. Therefore, do you think Wright would have relegated the design to someone else (sort of reminds me of the recent dialogue regarding the LHS vs FLlW designed Charnley house)?

SpringGreen
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Post by SpringGreen »

While Holzhueter is not an architect, he did some good research on the building. Additionally, the interior has similarities to the "Fireproof House for $5,000" that Wright would design a few years later - the living room, placement of the windows and entry, and the upstairs bedrooms with the locations of their closets seem similar to the other plans for "Fireproof houses" I've seen, or have gone into. Although oral histories cannot be discounted, Holzhueter's article states that on June 9, 1903, Lamp signed the contract with Wright for the Lamp House (Wisconsin Magazine of History, v. 72, n. 2, Winter, 1988-89, p. 107). The article also cites tax records of sales and insurance maps (on p. 108), all corroborating evidence as to the 1903 date of the design.

As for Griffin's involvement, I don't feel qualified to make a statement about that.
"The building as architecture is born out of the heart of man, permanent consort to the ground, comrade to the trees, true reflection of man in the realm of his own spirit." FLLW, "Two Lectures in Architecture: in the Realm of Ideas".

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

from the webite: http://www.pbs.org/wbgriffin/sprague.htm

We have this exchange regarding the Robie Lamp house and Griffin:

QUESTION: What was the significance of the L-shaped plan?

PAUL SPRAGUE: The main significance of that kind of plan, having the living room extend into the dining room around a fireplace with the kitchen in the other corner,is that it was a house with a flowing space; a large space that could be built at small size and inexpensively. The first of these that Griffin had anything to do with was for a friend of Frank Lloyd Wright's, (Mr.) Robie, built in Madison in 1903. It is the incipient plan. The fireplace is not in the corner but just to the left of the corner. As it got developed by Griffin, and then Wright, you would come inside opposite the L. In this case, he came in right into the L.This house is full of little Griffin things; it even had a roof garden on top, something Griffin used extensively later (e.g., Palma House 1911) and Wright never used. We have evidence that Griffin actually went to Madison to supervise the construction so it is probable that Wright just gave most of this to Griffin without paying too much attention. And the L-shaped floor plan starts there and then it appears again in 1906. Wright does not come up with this concept until 1907 in house he did for Ladies Home Journal in reinforced concrete. And after that, Wright used it a couple times but most of these other guys picked up on that because it was the perfect solution to this problem. First, you have to realize that Griffin invented it and then it became significant in a small sort of way because it could be directed to someone that was less affluent.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Image Carter

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Image Blythe

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Image Melson

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Color images from "Prairie Style" (Legler and Korab); b+w images from H A Brooks, "The Prairie School"

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Is there a comparison to be made between first-floor plans for Davenport and Carter ?



Image Davenport (Wright, 1901)

Image Carter (Griffin, 1909)

SDR

pharding
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Post by pharding »

Paul Ringstrom wrote:from the webite: http://www.pbs.org/wbgriffin/sprague.htm

We have this exchange regarding the Robie Lamp house and Griffin:

QUESTION: What was the significance of the L-shaped plan?

PAUL SPRAGUE: The main significance of that kind of plan, having the living room extend into the dining room around a fireplace with the kitchen in the other corner,is that it was a house with a flowing space; a large space that could be built at small size and inexpensively. The first of these that Griffin had anything to do with was for a friend of Frank Lloyd Wright's, (Mr.) Robie, built in Madison in 1903. It is the incipient plan. The fireplace is not in the corner but just to the left of the corner. As it got developed by Griffin, and then Wright, you would come inside opposite the L. In this case, he came in right into the L.This house is full of little Griffin things; it even had a roof garden on top, something Griffin used extensively later (e.g., Palma House 1911) and Wright never used. We have evidence that Griffin actually went to Madison to supervise the construction so it is probable that Wright just gave most of this to Griffin without paying too much attention. And the L-shaped floor plan starts there and then it appears again in 1906. Wright does not come up with this concept until 1907 in house he did for Ladies Home Journal in reinforced concrete. And after that, Wright used it a couple times but most of these other guys picked up on that because it was the perfect solution to this problem. First, you have to realize that Griffin invented it and then it became significant in a small sort of way because it could be directed to someone that was less affluent.
I have the highest respect for Paul Sprague, however I take exception with his statements that Griffin invented both the Carter Plan and the L-shaped plan. Carter is a variant of the Davenport plan. I believe that Mr. Sprague's reference to the L-shaped plan is a misnomer. I believe that the correct terms would be two interlocking rooms or cruciform plan.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Sounds right. Sprague may have been thinking of the "plan" in terms of the two public spaces, living and dining, and noting the L-shaped relationship of them in these houses. . .?

SDR

PSTraveler
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Post by PSTraveler »

Roderick Grant wrote:These books used to be staples in public libraries across the land, but may not be easy to come by any longer.
Most all of the WPA guides have been republished. Try this search of ABEbooks to see a selection.

John

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

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

SDR
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Post by SDR »

The Autobiography, p 32:

"The boys [Robie and Frank] were fast friends thereafter till [sic] Robie, forty-four, died in a little cream-white brick house with a roof-garden filled with flowers, designed for him by this rescuer [Wright]."

Robie Lamp appears in the next couple of pages, and again on page 52 -- but I find nothing else about the house.

SDR

DRN
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Post by DRN »

A link to the Holzheuter article noted by Spring Green published in the Wisconsin Magazine of History:

http://200emifflinproject.files.wordpre ... istory.pdf

The loss of the Lamp house in Madison in this day and age to speculative residential development would be a travesty, but then we all saw what almost happened to the David Wright House in Phoenix....one would hope the FLWBC has this on its radar.
Last edited by DRN on Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

"And the L-shaped floor plan starts there and then it appears again in 1906." -- Paul Sprague

I believe that the L-shaped plan from 1906 was Walter Burley Griffin's Peters House, not the Carter House.

The Peters and Lamp House plans are much closer to Wright's Fireproof, Tan-y-deri, Stockman and Stephen MB Hunt Houses than Carter.

http://webapps.cityofchicago.org/landma ... lanId=1527

"In the fall of 1906, Griffin received his first residential commission after leaving Wright. It was to build a home on Chicago's northwest side for Harry Peters. For the Peters' House, Griffin used a plan that he had created in Wright's studio. The floor plan was based on Wright's concept of allowing rooms to flow into each other around a central fireplace. Griffin took this idea and reduced it so that it could be cheaply reproduced. This simple square design allowed the living and dining rooms to form an L-shape around a central fireplace. It was a complete break from the boxy rooms so prevalent in Victorian floor plans. The front parlor and back parlor were gone, and in their place was a democratic house. It was the first L-shaped or open floor plan.

By 1907 Griffin had become increasingly connected to real estate developers and contractors for whom he built speculative homes in the Chicago area. By using the simple open floor plan, Griffin could design a tract of unique houses that could easily be constructed. In 1909 Griffin provided plans for Russell Blount who was developing farmland on Chicago's southwest side. Blount constructed over thirteen Griffin houses in what is now called Chicago's Beverly Hills neighborhood of Ridge Historic District. Griffin's L-shaped floor plan allowed each of the designs to be constructed for around $1800. 104th Place has been renamed Walter Burley Griffin Place due to the number of his designs in the area."

source: http://www.pbs.org/wbgriffin/indy.htm
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

Committee approves redevelopment guidelines for historic Lamp House block

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/ ... 7f13d.html
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

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