Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Frank Lloyd Wright in South Carolina

Many of you probably have the biennial opening of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Auldbrass on your calendar for November 7 and 8th from 10 am until 4 pm. This rare opportunity is sponsored by The Beaufort County Open Land Trust www.openlandtrust.com . If you haven’t visited the only plantation that Wright designed, call for your tickets today, 843.521.2175. You don’t want to miss seeing Auldbrass.

While attending the South Atlantic Regional Convention of the American Institute of Architects last month in Greenville, I had the delightful pleasure of visiting the only other project designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in South Carolina. We were entertained by the original contractor and viewed the complete set of working drawings for the house and furniture, all six pages of them!

The 1727 square foot, three bedroom, two and one half bath, Broad Margin was designed by Wright in 1951 for sisters, the Misses Gabrielle and Charlcey Austin. Wright named the house Broad Margins after the passage, “I love a broad margin to my life.” from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. In 1978, the house was listed on the National Registered of Historic Places.

Broad Margin is an Usonian House, a term coined by Wright to describe his small affordable houses that were typically single story, built on a concrete slab of native materials with large overhangs. He was particularly sensitive to building the house to fit into the landscape.

The siting of the Broad Margin is quintessential Wright. The downtown Greenville site is heavily wooded and bordered by two creeks; you feel like you are miles from civilization. The approach to the house is from above and your first view is of the large low sloped roof. The modest entrance is through the carport into a narrow hall that functions as a spine to the building. All the rooms open out to the view and a series of decks that step down the hillside.

The house is constructed of stone, poured in place concrete, Lowcountry cypress and glass. The great room has a magnificent sunken stone fireplace as the focal point. The kitchen is the only room without a view but it has an eighteen foot ceiling culminating in a skylight. The floor is Wright’s signature red poured in place concrete with radiant heating.

The current owner has lovingly restored the house and had the dining room table rebuilt to Wright’s specifications, a previous owner sold the dining room furniture. Most of the other original furniture designed by Wright is still in place.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Frank Lloyd Wright's Broad Margin House Greenville, SC

This house was designed in 1951 and completed in 1954. It was built for two sisters who happen to be my friend Michael Watson's second cousins. Michael told me when he visited as a child the 1700 s.f. house seemed huge; it was a different story when he visited again as an adult.

The man in the photograph below was the original contractor for the house. We also were able to view the original drawings for the project....there were only 8 sheets and that included all the furniture drawings. The original dining table and chairs were sold by a pervious owner. These were made from the original drawings by Michael McDunn of Greenville. The contractor said that these were nicer than the original ones.