Spring Modern Martini Madness at the FLW Sondern-Adler Home

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Paul Ringstrom
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Location: Mason City, IA

Spring Modern Martini Madness at the FLW Sondern-Adler Home

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

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

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

This is one house I find too odd by half. The original Sondern House was just OK, not a brilliant essay, considering its antecedents. The Adler expansion turned Sondern into a muddle. If Adler is examined without knowledge of Sondern, it adds up to a totally confused mess. Rosenbaum was virtually doubled in size, and not to the enhancement of the original, but at least an attempt was made to integrate the addition in a logical fashion. Adler wanders all over the lot without resolution. It's like a cottage with a goiter.

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Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

The plan of Sondern, with its three equal sized square masonry masses formally grouped, does seem unusual for Wright. It is interesting that one could easily draw the basic Sondern plan diagram in its original form with just few lines, but post Adler addition, the plan seems to lose order and become too complicated or convoluted to easily sketch.

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Post by DavidC »

My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting this home last year. The homeowner very gracious and generous w/ his time w/ us - and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there. I know he is occasionally involved the the Conservancy, too. The folks attending this event should have a very good time.


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Post by SDR »

.....................................................Image Sondern

Image Sondern-Adler
drawing © W A Storrer

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Post by Palli »

There are many photos of the Sondern construction on this site.
http://www.roanokekc.org/SondernAdlerCo ... onPics.htm

BTW, Sondern was designed with a perforated board and the design has been placed on the Perf Project Chronological Timeline. You can see it yourself at

Although there is a picture perfect upper clerestory, the perfs appear to have not been installed. Construction photos and other early photos (seen so far) don't show them at least. If anyone has any information about these perfs or any perf furnature in the house, please contact us by private messaging?

The perf unit drawing on the building sheet mentioned is particularly interesting as it helps understand questions about the G-W intial perfs.
The Perf Project

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Interesting construction photos. If all those photos were taken while the original Sondern House was constructed (as seems to be the case) then the circular pool was part of Sondern. I thought Adler added it.

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Post by DRN »

The pics seem to be of BOTH the original construction and the later Adler addition. In some of the pics in the series, completed and time weathered portions of the house can be seen adjacent to new work. From a quick review, I believe pictures (read left to right, line by line) 8,11,30,32,33,34,35,50,53,54,55,56,57, and the last 9 pics, to be of the addition.

Laurie Virr
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Post by Laurie Virr »

With reference to the photographic images of the construction.

How construction has changed in the three fourths of a century since 1940. There are images of the trenches for footings being dug with pick and shovel, and wheelbarrows lacking pneumatic tires. [I can recall seeing trenches for footings being dug by hand in Europe in the late 1950’s].

There would appear to have been adequate area on the site, yet the organization of the works was haphazard at best. A site that is kept tidy is of benefit to all those working there.

Piles of roof framing lay, unprotected, on the ground, as did half batts of extruded brick. Areas of the totally unprotected, completed concrete slab were covered in heaps of rubble. The staging used by the brick masons and carpenters would cause a modern day occupational health inspector to suffer cardiac arrest.

Not all that passes for progress has been beneficial, altho I am relieved that sawpits are no longer in use. The nail gun is an abomination, and furnishes an inferior connection to that provided by a carpenter driving two requisite nails with a hammer.

Why do architects continue to specify extruded bricks? If the North American version is similar to those manufactured here in Australia, then they are unadulterated rubbish.

loo tee
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Post by loo tee »

The basic trouble with the addition to the Sondern house is that it left the place with TWO living rooms. Some years ago, I visited the house with the historian Allen Brooks, and was interested to find that the owner, Richard Stern, favored the original, and smaller, living room.
Stern bequeathed the house to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which could conceive of no use for it and merely sold it. (The director then was Marc F. Wilson, who snobbishly remarked that perhaps it could serve as his pied-a-terre.)
The house stands next door to Thomas Hart Benton's house, now a state historic site. Benton was amused by Wright's so-called persona, and recalled him as a "ham." When they dined at the Hotel Bellerive, around 1940, Wright warned the artist to slow down on his drinking as he grew older. Those were the good old days of Kansas City.

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Post by Tom »

Wow, that original plan is gem.

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