Frank Lloyd Wright
click here for Wikipedia bio of Frank Lloyd Wright
series of photos is of one of the homes in the quad know as the Suntop
Homes in Ardmore by Frank Lloyd Wright. They were built in 1939.
The home photographed in this series is the front right of the quad as
you look from the street. Note diagram of the 4 homes. At Suntop,
Wright applied principals from his "Broadacre City" plan, a
garden-based alternative to suburban and urban expansion, to rethink
the notion of group housing. By way of a pinwheel plan, each of the
four units that constitute Suntop, affords the inhabitants with a
private garden and sun terrace, with interior living spaces divided
into four separate levels. There is an overall horizontality of the
forms, including the suppression of the verticality of the stair.
the next more recent group of photos are of a second home of the suntop quad
This home by Frank Lloyd Wright is close to Philadelphia in New Jersey
1954 Wilson Bachman Usonian Wright Home near Princeton NJ
This home was featured in an article in New Jersey Monthly in Jan 2009 titled Labor of Love and written by Lauren Payne.
When Sharon and Lawrence Tarantino discovered an original Frank Lloyd Wright house in Millstone, it was love at first sight.
was complicated, though, by the home's decrepit state, buckets were
scattered to collect leaking water and thick layers of paint covered
the original Philippine mahogany. Clearly, years of neglect had taken
In the two decades since they bought the home, one
of four original Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the state, the couple has
meticulously restored it to its original brilliance: a compact home
made seemingly large by the open floor plan, soaring window walls, and
seamless extension of the interior space to the outdoors. "Living here
is a gift," says Sharon. "It's like we're living in nature." The
Tarantinos' efforts were acknowledged late last year with an award from
the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the
first-ever AIA Preservation Merit Award.
"It's high time we
recognize this type of work," says Michael Califati, principal of
Historic Building Architects in Trenton and chairman of the AIA-NJ
Historic Resources Committee. Acknowledging that the Tarantinos
carefully researched Wright's original plans for the house, built in
1954, Califati adds, "They came up with a very sensitive approach to
the restoration. They made sure they did everything right."
The Long Journey
Tarantinos twenty-year odyssey to restore the home commonly referred to
as the Bachman-Wilson house after its original owners began when they
persuaded the previous owner to sell. They are only the fourth owners
of the house, designed and built while Wright was based in the East,
working on the Guggenheim Museum. (Much of Wright's work is in his
The design focuses on the continuity between
the indoors and outdoors and shows an awareness of sustainable
elements, a novel idea for the mid-1950s. Inspired by the flat
Midwestern plains, coupled with distinct touches of Japanese
architecture, the small house (under 2,000 square feet) has dramatic
cantilevered roofs and balconies, and large expanses of glass windows
and doors that let light and views of nature flow into the living space.
the feeling of communing with nature that first attracted the
Tarantinos. "The scenery is constantly changing," says Sharon, noting
the south-facing window walls provide total privacy, but also views of
the Millstone River just a stone's throw away, along with a steady
parade of wildlife roaming the dense woods.
Restoring the house
brought special challenges to the architect-design team. The couple
lived in the house throughout the restoration process. In fact, they
maintained their architectural studio there while restoring a
250-year-old timber-framed barn from Vermont. The barn was relocated
just a few feet away from the Wright house on the original foundation
of the Millstone House Inn and barn. Despite the disparate design
styles, the two structures coexist quite naturally on the property.
(The barn was also recognized by the AIA as part of the couple's
Preserving a Frank Lloyd Wright
house is a never-ending project, but the Tarantinos don't mind. "It is
so enriching to us because we're in the profession. It's not a big
glamour house, but it has a lot of design elements that architects use
today," says Sharon. For instance, the original concrete floors
(restored to a deep brick red) are heated from below with radiant heat.
The 10-foot-high French doors of the living room face south, admitting
maximum light. There are no nails and virtually no wasted scraps (much
furniture is made from the leftover plywood).
home is all about organic architecture, which Wright taught us, and
many are just starting to understand today with green building,"
"This award redirects us back to what
architecture should achieve," says Califati. "This is a compact house
for sure, but it is compacted with environmental sensitivity. Today's
design edict calls for treading lightly, adds Califati. "Don't build
anything bigger than you need; take full advantage of the natural
light." That's what Wright did, so many years ago.
Wright in western PA
photos from my 2011 visit
From the Kentuck Knob website
In 1953, Bernardine and I.N. Hagan purchased 80 acres in the mountains above Uniontown, in Western Pennsylvania, where their families had lived for generations. After falling in love with their friends, the Kaufmann's home, Fallingwater, they telephoned Frank Lloyd Wright and asked if he would design a house for them. His answer was, Of course. Come on out.
At 86, and hard at work on the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and about 12 residential homes, Wright said he could shake it (Kentuck Knob) out of his sleeve at will? never even setting foot on the site, except for a short visit during the construction phase. This would be one of the last homes to be completed by Wright.
A team of local builders, led by then seventy-three year old Herman Keys, could not have known the masterpiece they were about to build when they began construction in the early 50's. The Hagans moved into the home on 29, July 1956 their 26th wedding anniversary and spent thirty years at Kentuck Knob. There is a sense of beauty, comfort, serenity and harmony in the house and all of its surroundings, Mrs. Hagan says in her book, Kentuck Knob: Frank Lloyd Wright's House for I.N. and Bernardine Hagan.
After I. N. fell ill, the Hagans could no longer remain on the mountain so they sold the house in 1986 to Lord Palumbo of England. Life, on occasion, becomes a matter of serendipity. When circumstances conspire to propel one in a certain direction, it is best to go with the flow, or so I have found, even if the precise destination is at the time unknown. My purchase of Kentuck Knob falls into such a category.
I think that both I and the state of Pennsylvania owe a great debt of gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. I.N. Hagan for an inspired commission from an architect of legendary renown.
photos for 2011 visit
Index to MODERN HOMES PHILADELPHIA History Pages
Overview of Philadelphia Area Mid-Century Modern Residential Architecture (below on this page) Photo overview followed by brief written overview of Philadelphia mid-century architects .
Time Line of area modern homes from 1930's to today Mid-Century Modern Homes
Architects Who Designed Mid-Century Modern Homes in the Philadelphia Region
photographs of the regional homes designed by each architect are included
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