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Mosher(Moser) House on National Register
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PSTraveler



Joined: 09 Jan 2006
Posts: 48
Location: Lake City, Iowa

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few additional angles:

http://prairieschooltraveler.com/html/oh/wellington/mosher.html
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 9725
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In addition to the obvious difference in vertical scale, a critical item that would argue against even a major remodel is the orientation of the chimney.
In this case they don't match.

But the far right end of the porch is almost identical. . .!


SDR
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hypnoraygun



Joined: 22 Mar 2006
Posts: 554
Location: Missouri

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

But the far right end of the porch is almost identical. . .!


That is true.. It does look dead on. That was the ONLY thing that really got me to think it could be a Wright home.
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 1965
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have no knowledge of this house, but I have to ask the questions...have construction drawings surfaced from Taliesin?...What was published in the Monograph..were they just preliminary designs which inevitably changed ? How does the as-built condition compare with the construction drawings?

Could this be a design that was so monkeyed with after it left Taliesin (by the owner, contractor, and subsequent owners), that Storrer's "geometric analysis" didn't come up with Wright as the author? It sounded as if Storrer reluctantly included the house when BBP put it in the Monograph.
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Palli Davis Holubar



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 1036
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Monograph page shows one drawing sheet with perspective drawing, ground and second story plans.
I will send it to SDR with some quick drawings of mine. Please don’t laugh at my simple un-measured drawings of the existing plans.
Yes, DRN, the Wright design was "monkeyed" with either by Mosher, a design engineer and inventor, or the builders. There are no existing plans outside of Taliesin Archives (how they survived the fire is unknown) and no record of alterations. Wellington was a wealthy town of large Victorian homes and smaller worker housing. The Mosher house was the home of the inventor (he continued to take out patents) but was for tax purposes gentleman poultry farmer in the census. The house was built in 1904; the following year the property tax rose. The Moshers lived there until 1918.
The interior was severely altered at construction and also rudely remodeled some time before the mid- 40s when most of the cabinets & any built-ins were removed, then again in the 60s. A later owner and resident for 38 years remembers seeing them being torn out. The house was built long before electricity and indoor plumbing that far from the city, so I can not tell if the kitchen location is original but I assume that the country preference would have been eastern windows for the morning warmth resulting in the orientation change. The perspective drawing shows the front façade to be east- now it faces north. The house length has been truncated. There is no foyer fireplace and the living room fireplace was replaced by a 60’s stone faced wall and a standard wood mantel. The dining room now faces south over an exposed basement with a door. The landscape never had the walls either or the buggy drive. To understand what the Mosher House could have been, review the Lake Delevan Wisconsin, houses like Spenser and Ross from the same year.


Last edited by Palli Davis Holubar on Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 9725
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 9725
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



So, it would appear that Mosher et al took Wright's drawings as a "suggested starting place," and shrank and re-worked the plan at will. It's surprising to
me that the broad roof overhangs, and a respectable architectural order and symmetry, remain evident after these amateur (?) machinations !

Incidentally, I don't think Palli has anything to apologize for with her drafting skills, do you ? A more than respectable effort at site forensics and
documentation, if you ask me. . .


SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 9725
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I note that the majority of windows on all elevations of the house have crisp black-striped window sills. What do you make of those ?


SDR
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 1965
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Palli, for your forensic analysis...it does clear up a lot for me. Your plans were just fine to my eye.

Other than the board and batten details, the porch, and well, not much else, this house seems to be little more than a Wright inspired or derived design built for a Wright client instead of the Wright design. I believe if there was no tie to Wright via Mr. Mosher and we all looked at this same design, we would call it a Prairie-esque design, but would be quick to point out how un-Wrightian it is.

I find it hard to understand why Storrer has accepted the as built Mosher house as a Wright design, yet he casts aside the Moe house in Gary, IN, which is documented as a project in Wright's office, completed by his employees. The Moe house has more in common with Wright's Charles Brown house than the as-built Mosher house has with its own original design.

http://www.chameyer.net/669vanburen.html

http://www.franklloydwrightinfo.com/xfllw.html
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Palli Davis Holubar



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 1036
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, it is strange...the Moe House seems much better documented. I’ve been told Storrer earlier had Mosher attribution Wright. Perhaps the recent re-instatement was influenced by that fact.


I do wish that the energy spent on attribution of houses during this productive, prolific but difficult period of his life would reflect and emphasize the significance the workplace had in Wright's life. The generative camaraderie among architects at the Steinway Hall studios, the excitement of sharing of ideas, the generous aid of other architects and developers to keep him afloat as he figured out his life. (I would have loved to walk those halls watching the art and engineering happen.) Only with that firm grounding in the group effort as "profession" could Wright come to the personal recognition that he needed to explore new ideas...that the Prairie School vocabulary was not his singular voice- however individual and critical his efforts were to the development of the style.
The period was the grounding for his life thrust: the building of works with clear and universal meaning not a style. With the "mental" strength gained from that generative environment he left for Europe, a new place where he could concentrate on the activities of re-drawing those early buildings...a "Birthday Box" to himself. The publishing contract would be homage to the first part of his life and the best way to understand everything he needed from them before he began again. Mamah and his Italian Villa design for her were the declarations of new life. The Villa design, although unbuilt, was an exercise in making a structure grow from it's site- the crux of Organic Architecture. (After all, which of his early urban designs had sites to really consider as "whole" site & plan? Only the cottages in Wisconsin and Michigan could engage his roots of Nature.) In the Italian Hills, he had the time, pleasure of company and unfamiliar place to again understand his childhood joy of the land. Taliesin confirmed that Declaration. And years later, Taliesin School restaged the
Steinway Hall studios.


Last edited by Palli Davis Holubar on Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:47 am; edited 2 times in total
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 9725
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found it odd that (on the page linked above by DRN) Prof Storrer makes much of the defeated (or deleted) porch cantilever at Moe, yet does not
remark on the more obvious indication that Wright is not the author of this design, as built: the lack of sufficient roof overhang on that porch. The
extreme cantilever of the Brown porch is quite exceptional for Wright, in the Prairie period; the condition found at Mosher (for instance) is much more usual,
but the eave projection generally will be found to resemble that of the main roof, if I am not mistaken. In any event, it is that lack of overhang -- especially at the
terminus -- that I find jarring in the photo of Moe that Storrer presents.

[In the very first line of the same page we have a more certain (if less important) error: the diagonal supports of the house in "North by Northwest" are of timber, not aluminum. . .]

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 9725
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As to Palli's well-wrought comments on Wright in the early period, I have only one small dissent. I believe that, despite Wright's (and others')
protestations to the contrary, "style" -- that is, a persistent and consistent attention to "the appearances" -- was very much on Wright's mind, then
and ever after. Assuredly he attempted, perhaps with equal consistency, to incorporate both technical and social advancements into his work
(though I am more persuaded that the former was an intrinsic interest while the latter was as much as anything a matter of PR). But I believe
that only spacial play -- the weaving of the "negative" and the "positive" -- competed for primacy with the outward appearance of the forms and
their contributing details, for him.

Wright was very much a stylist; it was his recognition that an architect will be taken seriously only if he claims a higher ideal, and a more
practical purpose than mere beauty, that prevented him from admitting so. After all, would any client bet his money, and the safety and well-
being of his family or his employees, on such a radical practitioner, a daring architectural experimenter, if the difference was only a matter of
appearance ? That architect would have to convince everyone -- client, bank, building department and the public at large (including future
clientele) that it was more than mere "art" which excused and explained all the departures from normal practice that were found in his work.
Indeed he mentions in the Autobiography the struggle to get the early buildings financed; friends and family of clients often had to be enlisted,
when banks backed away from the prospect of a Frank Lloyd Wright design.

I think we may be duped by Wright's own insistence on motives other than "poetry" as the source and foundation of his production -- forgetting
that he candidly described himself as "artist-architect" and "poet," while demonstrating, always, that self-promoting gift of gab that always
distinguishes the earnest salesman, and typically directs the attention of the public (like the Grand Wizard behind the curtain) to the real or
imagined benefits of the "product" while minimizing potential faults or compromises.

I believe that Wright kept his true love -- forms and details revealed to him early on, and repeatedly throughout his life -- to himself, and let them
speak in his work without verbal explanation. What can a painter say about his brushstrokes ? But there are moments when he reveals his
intentions: in a line in the Autobiography about the early revelations of form he says something like "I found these buildings to have a proportion
that I liked -- spoiled perhaps only by having windows and doors cut into them. If I could have eliminated openings I might have been happier still. . ."

An artist in building material he was, sacrificing as little as possible, through sheer will and a golden tongue, to get these visions built and
standing, for a while at least. A style (call it what you will) -- a unique and forward-looking reworking of the building, inside and out, relying on a
number of innovations of detail (while using and celebrating the traditional material palette) to realize a new vision for architecture -- was his
contribution, and though others followed, he led. To accept that appearance was secondary to other considerations is to accept the PR that he,
of necessity, adopted from the start, Indeed, it is this very "style" that attracts us and makes us want to explore a Wright structure, and that
remains with us as an essential marker of the architectural experience when we have gone back out into the ordinary world -- isn't it ?

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 9725
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On reflection, perhaps the issue (if there is one) can be resolved and explained by noting that it is now a hundred years since Wright's radical
work needed explanation and defense (that is, PR), and that we can now "afford" to accept it as art, with a style. . .? Perhaps we can stop feeling
slightly embarrassed when we use the term Prairie Style ? Or do I speak only for myself when I confess any discomfort at speaking "against Wright"
and "for" a "Wright style". . .?


SDR
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Palli Davis Holubar



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 1036
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SDR- Your dialogue is very logical and the idea of intervening history helped me clarify the looseness of my thinking into a simpler thought.

To speak directly to style, this is how I see it: there is a Frank Lloyd Wright Organic Architecture style- but the originators of a style don't do style. Others do style with more or less individual understanding and vision. I think that is why he wanted his ideas to be associated with the broader term Organic Architecture. Organic Architecture lives on in the work of people like E. Fay Jones. But is only a Prairie School style living now? Indeed, isn't there a Usonian style and wasn't there a first and last Usonian.

Without a doubt, Wright was the principle architectural innovator within that community of architects. Unlike Picasso in painting, whose brilliance was the clear synthesis of every visual "wave length" he was exposed to, Wright was the originator of architectural wave lengths. A lessor artist would have remained the leader of the Prairie School Movement. I think, Wright saw that the urban client's expectations for architecture were well met by his friends (some would say rivals but that is to harsh a fiction) and their interpretations of Prairie School ideas. He knew he needed more challenge (an important component of play), more personal identity and, I believe, more Nature. This was the crucial point of change in Wright’s career and, like most humans, he muddled through the transition. The building to represent his new life was a few years away. When he is ready it happens- the Taliesin stone walls rise from his home hillside as if the turf itself had been cut away to expose the natural state of the rock layers. Much later, Fallingwater becomes the full statement of Organic Architecture. Like most architecture it is a work for a client, but one capable of accepting the full measure of Wright's challenge and consequence with Nature.

As another aside, I find myself in this perf work required to use the word Taliesin to identify the supervised work of Wright, as it was the Taliesin School of Architecture. Some of the messiness about style comes from that.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 9725
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay -- that helps. The distinction between the originator and the style -- (the phrase "in the manner of. . ." is used in other media but seldom in
architecture, for some reason) -- helps sort out the thinking as well as the semantics, perhaps ?

I can think of a better reason to have abandoned the Prairie idiom, though: boredom. Doesn't every artist worthy of the name "get through
with" a subject, or a trope, sooner or later, and become restless to try something different ? Had he "done all that can be done" with the Prairie.. .
yes, Style. . .after an intense decade and a hundred variations ?

But, isn't Taliesin the grandest Prairie house of them all ? Or is it, rather, a throwback to an even more Eternal architecture; ageless -- an amalgam
of bits and pieces spanning a thousand years of building tradition, with a few modernisms sprinkled into the mix ?

Ditto the Imperial, and Midway: broader and grander, articulated-masonry Prairie ?

Better to wait for the California work to represent the complete break into something new. . .no ?

SDR

I too use (of, from or by) Taliesin to mean anything issuing from Taliesin, likely not in Wright's hand but with his approval. . .
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