In the latest phase of the kitchen restoration at the Elizabeth Murphy House, our goal was to rid the room of inappropriate materials and tie together the old and recent cabinets. But we found some lost details worth restoration.
Frank Lloyd Wright didn't tell the carpenter exactly how to craft an American System-Built cabinet so often the carpenter improvised.
Thanks to host Heather Sabin of Monona Terrace's Wright Design Series and Brian Hannan of event-sponsor Wright in Wisconsin, we are able to bring you this recorded presentation and tour of the Elizabeth Murphy House - Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House.
Why is there an invisible slot milled in Frank Lloyd Wright's windows? Should we fill it with something, and if so, what? Architects, homeowners, historians and restorers are welcomed to weigh in.
In a way, our quest to preserve this tiny home is like time travel. We want to understand what Frank Lloyd Wright intended at the time he intended it.
Though Wright designed over a hundred modest American System-Built Homes he quickly cancelled the program with only twenty or so built and filed away the drawings forever when he realized that his art would not be preserved if its occupants didn't themselves participate in the preservation.
We bought Frank Lloyd Wright's Elizabeth Murphy House with a plan to restore and care for her, but quickly discovered a curious and unexpected form of stewardship. Like nuns in a 19th century orphanage, we find ourselves caring for the forsaken.
Wright's statement chimney was meant to welcome a visitor like a smoke signal emerging from the heart of the house and saying, "we're home, it's warm in here, and you're invited." But in 1918, it leaked.
Imagine a couple of kids - one hundred years ago - sitting at the table, back to the warm morning sun, sipping milk while one parent flipped breakfast eggs and the other buttered toast and they all planned the weekend. It's not only about seeing things, but about living and being together in an American System-Built House.
You don't see many pictures of the kitchen in our gallery because we've not yet solved an aesthetically-complex issue: a sight-line destroyed by a modern appliance. We have a fix.