Sunday, July 29, 2012

Frank Lloyd Wright: The Gordon House


In 1956 Evelyn Gordon fulfilled her lifetime dream when she and her husband, Conrad, commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a house for them in Wilsonville, Oregon. He did so and in 1964, four years after his death, The Gordon House was built. It is the first and only Wright house built in the state of Oregon. The Gordons lived there until both passed away at which point the property was sold to a couple from California who wanted to destroy the house in order to put up something larger and more modern. Thankfully, the FLW Building Conservancy stepped in and the house was relocated to the grounds of the Oregon Gardens in Silverton. 

J and I spent Saturday afternoon listening to a docent share his knowledge both of the house and of Frank Lloyd Wright and tour the house. It was fascinating. For me this was a great experience—visually interesting and learning about an American icon of architecture about whom I knew nothing.  What follows are snippets of what we learned along with photos.

 View of house as you approach from driveway


Front of house


Common now but paneled refrigerators were unheard of in the 1960s. 


Wright used piano hinges on kitchen cabinet doors so they could be fully opened. Also protected the door from warping.


Reading nook. The comfortable seating was designed by Wright specifically for Mr. Gordon who when asked his favorite place to sit, replied it was his Chevy truck. Wright sent an apprentice to review and measure the truck seats and it was discovered that they were on a 15 degree angle. Wright then incorporated that angle into the seating as well as into every edge in the house, including the edges cut into all the wooden fretwork covering the windows. Once you've been told about it, you see it in every element of the house and yet it is very subtle. 


Mitered edge of built-in shelf in office


Wright's homes were built for the middle class. In the case of the Gordon House he used poured concrete floors, colored Cherokee Red (Wright's favorite color- he had all his cars re-painted in the color after purchase). He also used radiant heat throughout the house.


Wright strongly believed in blurring the line between outdoor and indoor living. There is a balcony or patio off every room in the house. In an effort to create as much open space as possible, he also removed the standard corner support in a wall, placing it on either side so doors could be fully opened out at the corners.


 A path goes completely around the house and illustrates how harmonious and like a piece of art the house is. Each view is different and yet all are subtle.







1 comment:

tweedlibrarian said...

What an amazing house- I love the geometric lines and the warm colors. Piano hinges on the cupboards- what a clever and very practical way to make life in the kitchen easier.

I had no idea he built for the middle class- I assumed he just did commissions for the very rich. His houses don't look "fancy" but the simple lines add so much elegance.

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