Wright Spirit Awards
Current
This year the FLWBC presented Wright Spirit Awards in the following categories:

Private Category
The recipients of the Private Category award, which honors Wright homeowners who have rescued a building or demonstrated outstanding stewardship in its conservation, are Daniel and Dianne Chrzanowksi, and Dale Morgan and Norman Silk.

In 1997 when the Chrzanowskis purchased the Dobkins House (1953) in Canton, Ohio, they knew that the house needed a total restoration. Willing to take on the challenge, the Chrzanowskis spent the first year with their new house commuting back and forth from their primary residence in Lakeland, Ohio, spending available evenings, weekends and holidays working on their new house. After searching for the right methods and products to restore the woodwork and furniture of the house, as well as repair the crumbing and fading concrete, the Chrzanowskis could not find workmen they were satisfied would do an adequate job. Instead, they did many of the hardest jobs together, including removing ¼ inch plate glass from the windows and doors to repair the rotten bottom rails. After many years of methodical and meticulous work, the Dobkins House has been restored to a museum quality restoration, which the Chrzanowkis fastidiously maintain. Many Conservancy members had an opportunity to tour the magnificently restored Dobkins House during Out and About Wright: Wright and Mid-Century Modernism in Cleveland and Northern Ohio in 2011.

Prior to 2006, the Turkel House (1955) in Detroit, Michigan, had stood unoccupied for several years. Windows were broken, the floor was cracked, dampness could be felt in the living room and it was clear that the house was endangered and in need of patient and loving stewards to bring the house back to its former glory. Dale Morgan and Norman Silk, longtime residents of the nearby Palmer Woods neighborhood, had been discussing moving to a more modern house when they saw the two-story Usonian Automatic. Two weeks later they bought the house and soon after engaged Larry Brink, a former Taliesin apprentice and Conservancy board member, to being plotting a strategy for the restoration of the house. The furnace was not functioning properly, there were major problems with the plumbing and electrical systems, the roof leaked, the air conditioning system—original to the house—didn’t work, and Philippine mahogany woodwork and furniture was badly sun-damaged. All of that was on top of the concrete block having been painted “butter yellow” on the interior to combat a mildew problem, a dangerously sagging carport and major issues with the exterior concrete. Seven years and over $1 million dollars later, Morgan and Silk not only restored this mid-century modern gem to its original glory but also went one step farther, adding a 1,000 square foot concrete terrace designed by Wright but never constructed. Participants of Destination Detroit were able to witness the incredible restoration first-hand while drinking wine and sampling hors d’oeuvres at an evening garden party.

Professional Category
The recipient of the Professional Category, which honors individuals who through architectural, scholarly or other endeavors, have advanced the knowledge and increased the appreciation of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, is Peter Rött. A registered architect in practice for over two decades, Rött has focused on the sustainable re-use and preservation of cultural resources. He joined Isthmus Architecture in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2001 and became a principal in 2006. The firm has an established regional reputation for quality historic preservation and re-use of designated historic landmark structures. As Isthmus's principal, he has been fortunate to work on and/or prepare detailed reports for a number of significant Wright works, including the Unitarian Meeting House, Taliesin, Tan-y-deri, Wyoming Valley School, Monona Terrace, Arnold House and Pew House, which was previously featured in the "Green Issue" of SaveWright. Currently, Rött is providing consulting services to the City of Richland Center for the A.D. German Warehouse and was a key figure in the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy's advocacy team effort to find a new owner for adaptive reuse of the building. He also serves on the board of the Seth Petersen Cottage Conservancy and the Wyoming Valley School Cultural Arts Center.

Public Domain Category
The recipient of the Public Domain Category award, which honors organizations or individuals who have promoted Frank Lloyd Wright’s works in the public arena or who have rescued a public building, is the First Unitarian Society and Friends of the Meeting House. A major cultural resource for the entire community of Madison, the First Unitarian Meetinghouse (1941) has creatively used Frank Lloyd Wright's flexible design of the Auditorium to accommodate everything from piano recitals and small ensembles to large chorus and orchestra concerts while also providing docent-led tours all year round. In the last 20 years the First Unitarian Society has experienced a surge in membership, which necessitated an increase in maintenance and restoration activities. With funds secured through a major First Unitarian Society capital campaign as well as revenue from daily tours and a small foundation grant, several long-term preservation projects have been completed since 2007: The remodeling and preservation of the A wing for current uses and code compliance; the rewiring and installation of fluorescent lighting in the auditorium; the repainting of the lobby, auditorium, hearth room and loggia based on research of the original color scheme; the structural re-enforcement of the ceiling and the repairing and repainting of the Loggia’s exterior soffits and eaves; the replacement of damaged wood and windows in the west living room; and the installation of a new ventilation system in the auditorium. In 1992-94, sagging trusses in the hearth room caused extensive leaking, necessitating the removal of the copper roofing over the auditorium, hearth room and entrance. The truss reinforcement and 7,000 square feet of new copper roofing cost $300,000 and was largely financed by the “Stonehaulers,” a group of original congregation members. Today, both the building and the community remain as vibrant and dynamic as ever, keeping Wright’s vision of both a religious and community space alive and well.



All photos by Mark Hertzberg.

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