Archive for the ‘Historic Windows’ Category

Hey Readers. TGIF! Today’s Fantasy is one of the most famous homes in the country ( in the fields of Architecture, Architectural History and Historic Preservation), so I thought it might be a change of pace to share a relatively well-known house with you. Let’s take a look at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House.

The Robie House is the quintessential example of the Prairie Style, and probably the best representative of the style that Frank Lloyd Wright created in the early 1900s. The Prairie Style is characterized by an open, spacious interior layout, long horizontal lines like the landscape of the prairie, low pitched hipped roofs and long banks of windows. The goal of a Prairie building (like any FLW building) is to add to its natural setting rather than dominating it, with an emphasis on craftsmanship.

Built between 1908 and 1910, the Robie house was built for Frederick C. Robie, the 28-year-old Manager of an excelsior  supply company. Shortly after Robie and his family moved in, they had to sell the house due to financial trouble. The house was sold and re-sold several times in the following years, but Wright furnishings stayed with the house when it was sold, fortunately.  Eventually, the Chicago Theological Seminary bought the house with plans to expand their campus.  It narrowly escaped demolition twice at the hands of the Seminary, the final time in 1957, when several vocal advocates for the home, including Wright himself who was 90 years old by then, turned out to protest the demolition. The building was ultimately purchased by a friend of Wright in 1958, who donated it to the University of Chicago.  The University eventually turned over operation of the Robie House to the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust (FLWPT).  The FLWPT undertook a massive restoration that costs over 10 million dollars to bring the home back to its original understated grace and beauty.  They continue to give tours of the house and grounds weekly, Thursday-Monday.

Now for some pictures of the Robie House. (Pictures from Wikipedia)

I hope you enjoyed your architectural history lesson for the day. Have a great weekend.


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Hello Readers! Today’s Fantasy is a bit different, as the inspiration came to me from a Cartoon! This house is a bit of a twofer because it is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Storer House, AND the home of The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch in the Venture Brothers, episode 304 “Home is Where the Hate Is”. In this episode, the show’s principal “villains” move to a new home in Malice, a gated community for super villains that is described as being “like Boca Raton on Halloween”. Check out the great sign for Malice, picture from AOLtv.

The moment I saw this house, I immediately saw that it was based on one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Textile Block Houses, built in the very obscure Mayan Revival style. However, there are not really any still shots of the house that are readily available, so we will look at the Storer House, one of the most famous Textile Block homes Wright designed, instead. But first, check out this still (from Adult Swim) of The Monarch looking out the window of the house, and anyone familiar with FLW will see why I was able to recognize it as a Wright House.  Great Job Venture Creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer for conveying that in a cartoon!.

Now, on to the Storer House. The Storer House was built in Los Angeles in 1923 for Dr. John Storer, a homeopathic doctor. It seems very appropriate that a homeopathic doctor should choose Frank Lloyd Wright as his architect, as Wright’s Modus Operandi was to create houses that were a harmonious feature of the landscape rather than a structure that dominated or subjugated the surrounding landscape, very much in line with the natural remedies and balance within the body sought in homeopathy.  Wright used precast concrete blocks with molded patterns to build his textile block houses, and could easily form the building to follow the landscape, stacking the blocks like Legos!  Add to that the fact that this is the only textile block house with four varied textures on the blocks, created by FLW with sledgehammers and other manual means, and it becomes even more intriguing and organic.
With the textures of the home, the typical Wright leaded glass windows and the great common areas with lofty ceiling heights and you’ve got a pretty great home, even though the Storer House is small for Hollywood standards (only about 3,000 square feet.) (Photos below from wikipedia, designmuseum.orgwaymarking.com and a Franklin and Marshall College webpage.)

Oh, and on a really cool side note, film producer Joel Silver (of Die Hard and The Matrix fame) purchased the home in the 80’s and did a complete restoration with the assistance of FLW’s grandson, Eric. He also added in the pool that was originally planned for the house, but never built.

Home you enjoyed this example of cartoon living inspired by Architectural History.

Happy Arching!


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 Hello Everyone. I just wanted to share this great photo with you. This is from Ash’s and my trip to Monticello. This is a view from an ox eye window in the Dome Room, which is now open to the public for the first time, as they instituted the behind the scenes tour of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. If you are in the area I recommend that you get ticks and check  it out.

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Today, I got to do something almost unheard of in my part of the office: I got to go on a site visit!  You see, at Old Stuff Inc., we don’t often have the time or resources to go into the field, but one of the projects I was involved with had a Grand Opening celebration, and I got to be there!

The Eustis Street Fire House, or ‘Torrent Six’ as it was called after its construction in 1859, will now be the headquarters to a great and very deserving Preservation group called Historic Boston Incorporated.  HBI’s mission is to carry out bricks and mortar preservation work, saving endangered buildings in Boston by fixing them up.

Below is a picture that I borrowed from their website (hopefully they won’t mind…. as I want to spread the word about their good deeds!) of the Fire House before its restoration. Talk about rough shape!

Also, below is another picture from the Boston Fire Historical Society which also has several great historical photos if you look at their site.

Finally, below is a picture of the rehabilitated Torrent Six sign and a bit of the building (Photo again from HBI).  Much of the Restoration work was done by students from the North Bennett Street School, which specializes in traditional craftsmanship and trade work.

It was wonderful to see a project through to such a wonderful conclusion. Good luck in your new home, HBI, and thanks for inviting me to join the fun!


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Ash and I have just gotten back from a quick mini-vacation where we caught up with my best friend, who currently lives in Philly (and re-met her boyfriend who we had met once before for like 6 seconds), so I don’t get to see her very much.  Because of this, I am all out of sorts and haven’t had any time to plan blog material, so I’m going to share some of my photos from past trips to Philly instead.

Congress Hall was constructed between 1787 and 1789.  It is run by the National Park Service and you can take a free tour if you get there early enough.

This is a cool architectural Detail I found on a building. I don’t remember anything more about it than the fact that there were other sea-creatures on the building as well. Anyone familiar with Philly recognize this?

This staircase if from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fisher Fine Arts Library designed by the very cool but slightly off-kilter Frank Furness. It kind of reminds me of the staircase scene in Labyrinth.

Here is a cool building I spotted while we were walking to a used book store.

And last but not least some photos I took at one of my favorite places (and not just because Steve Buscemi narrates the audio tour) Eastern State Penitentiary.

Hope you enjoyed this impromptu tour of Philly!

See you for tomorrow’s Friday Fantasy.


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Good day all.

Recently, I was talking with my co-worker  and the topic  inevitably came  around to windows. You see, in our duty set here at the asylum…err office,  we get to review a number of “rehabilitation” projects and as any good Preservationist knows there is a difference between rehabilitation and remodeling (remuddeling) as well as restoration and renovation and replication, but that’s another post  for another time…

On a slightly different note, was that enough “R” words for you? Here’s another one just for good measure RUSTICATED. I know, I know, rusticated has nothing what-so-ever to do with those other words I just wanted to share with  you all this “quaint” (don’t you love how realtors use that term to describe something normal people would call small) online dictionary I found the other-day. It is by no means all inclusive (good luck trying to find oubliette or Choragic Monument of Lysicrates), but it’s illustrated and good for quick and dirty descriptions when you just can’t seem to remember the word Narthex)

Now back to windows. My co-worker and I see a lot of planned “rehabilitations” in which they are planning on “upgrading” a home with vinyl windows in order to be more energy efficient. That is when the red flags start waving and I start making phone calls and writing letters and TRYING to convince people in the “real world” not to buy into the hype from the window ads you see or the articles you read… like THIS ONE . Don’t believe that these adds are truthful and that their product would be beneficial for your home,  the amount of gross misinformation in the preceding article is ridiculous, not to mention their claim that vinyl windows are aesthetically pleasing… Any preservationist can tell you that looking at an historic house with vinyl windows is like looking at a blind house. Oh, and environmentally friendly? Please! What about all the toxic chemicals and plastic that go into their manufacture is environmentally friendly? But enough, I could go on about the evil replacement window man forever. Instead I’ll share some positive things I find that support the underground but growing movement to stop the loss of historic windows. I found this little pamphlet by the City of Albany and I would like to share it with you.

Also, to further aid you  in your quest to prevent the vinylocalypse (some times I have nightmares about vinyl windows de-fenestrating me… It’s frightening, I know! See what working in Preservation can do to you?) I am giving you this handy little link from the National Park Service so that you can get all the information your little heart desires on spiffing-up your historic windows. Oh and if you’re in the Vermont area I’d totally recommend  Jackson at Black Sash Restoration  for your restoration needs, he’s a great guy who really knows his stuff!

That’s enough for today folks but I’d love to see a window discussion or tips in how to convert the masses in our quest to stop the vinylocalypse in the comments!


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