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Margaret Esherick House (photo courtesy Craig Wakefield)

Margaret Esherick House: A Louis Kahn Design for an Independent Woman

 

Margaret Esherick House (photo courtesy Craig Wakefield)
Margaret Esherick House Designed by Louis Kahn (photo courtesy Craig Wakefield).

I could not find a photo of Margaret Esherick(1919-1962), but I found many photos of the house she commissioned in 1959 to be designed by Louis Kahn, who had designed her Uncle Wharton Esherick’s Worskhop.  Margaret Esherick owned a bookstore in Chestnut Hill, and she was a single woman.  Appropriately, the  house had built-in book shelves and one bedroom.

Margaret Esherick House Bookshelves. Photo by Jon Reksten via Flickr.
Margaret Esherick House Bookshelves. Photo by Jon Reksten via Flickr.

The kitchen was designed by Wharton Esherick, with his fine woodworking. Look at those swooping counters and shelves!  Visiting Wharton Esherick’s home and studio in Paoli, PA, mesmerized me with the beauty of his craft: drawers that illuminated when opened, a carved spiral staircase, copper sink in the kitchen.

Margaret Esherick House Kitchen designed by Wharton Esherick. Photo by Jon Reksten via Flickr.
Margaret Esherick House Kitchen designed by Wharton Esherick. Photo by Jon Reksten via Flickr.

There are only scraps of Margaret Esherick’s story.  She had enough money to have a house built for herself.  She died of Pneumonia at age 43 before she had a chance to see the house fully completed.  The story speculated is that she was a Christian Scientist and believed the physical body is not “matter” and that traditional treatments, such as antibiotics, were to be refused.  

What Life is Like in Louis Kahn’s Esherick House

Photo Essay by Todd Eberle on the Esherick House

NOTE: In the process of researching Margaret Esherick’s house, I discovered that her property is along Pastorius Park in Chestnut Hill, an endeavor of George Woodward in 1915, which involved him donating land on the condition that the City of Philadelphia condemn some 30 homes, many belonging to Italian stonemasons, who worked on many of the buildings in Chestnut Hill, and also residences of African Americans. Woodward also built the Water Tower Recreation Center that has a craft show we did for a few years.  

Sweets on the tea tray at The Village Teahouse

Celebrating a Birthday at The Village Teahouse in Upper Gwynedd, PA

Celebrating my birthday at The Village Teahouse in West Point
Celebrating my birthday at The Village Teahouse in Upper Gwynedd.  Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Stratoz had the fine idea to try the new tearoom for my birthday, The Village Teahouse in West Point, PA(Lansdale address).  We have a history of going to tearooms at least 20 years, with Stratoz usually being the only man in the room, which doesn’t bother him because he enjoys taking tea.  We used to go to Thyme for Tea in Lansdale, and were sad that it had closed, so it was a treat to visit The Village Teahouse.  When I called to make a reservation, the woman on the other end said “Oh, you are a Margaret too.”  The owner is Margaret Miley Shaffer.

Tea at The Village Tearoom
Tea at The Village Tearoom. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

The theme is Alice in Wonderland, and we were seated in the Mad Hatter Room.  I was tempted by the tea with lavender and if it had been a black tea, I would have gone with it.  Instead I tried the Wedding Tea, with rose petals, which was more frilly than I usually like, but when the server asked if I wanted more tea, I ordered the Oolong(which is what Stratoz had) which was more my speed.

The Full Tea started with a two tiered tray topped with scones and tea bread, lemon curd, cream, and fig jam.  The tea sandwiches were a nice array for a bacontarian such as myself since there was a tasty variation on a BLT in miniature form, in addition to vegetarian options of egg salad, carrot salad on raisin bread, cucumber, and then Stratoz ate both roast beef sandwiches.

Sweets on the tea tray at The Village Teahouse
Sweets on the tea tray at The Village Teahouse, chocolate cherry cupcake in foreground. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Dessert included banana cream tarts(which made me think it was Stratoz’ birthday since he enjoys bananas and I don’t ;-), but I ate both chocolate cherry cupcakes, followed with a lemon meringue tart and a chocolate dipped shortbread cookie shaped like a teabag.

The Village Teahouse designed by Milton Bean
The Village Teahouse designed by Milton Bean. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

In addition to satisfying my sweet tooth, The Village Teahouse is a Victorian designed by Milton Bean, Lansdale architect, in 1896.  I had heard a talk by Drexel Librarian Leopold Montoya at the Lansdale Historical Society.  Montoya became entranced with Bean when he discovered his house was designed by him, but little information was available, even though Bean designed over 1000 area homes and churches.  Our house was built in 1900, so the The Village Teahouse had a 4 year head start on us.

The Village Teahouse designed by Milton Bean
The Village Teahouse designed by Milton Bean, 1896. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

 

The Village Teahouse opens in Upper Gwynedd article in North Penn Life, July 20, 2015.  As we were leaving, the owner told us it was always nice to meet another Margaret.  Even though she goes by Meg much of the time, she does have Margaret’s Late Day Tea on the menu, so she is Margaret approved.

 

The Village Teahouse

PHONE

(215) 699-1800

HOURS

Wed-Sat 10a–4p
Call for special event hours

LOCATION

1919 West Point Pike
Lansdale, PA 19446

Hildreth Meière's Red Room at One Wall Street, New York, NY. Hildreth Meière Dunn © 2009

The Orange Glow of the Red and Gold Banking Room by Hildreth Meière

Hildreth Meière's Red Room at One Wall Street, New York, NY.   Hildreth Meière Dunn © 2009
Hildreth Meière’s Red Room at One Wall Street, New York, NY. Hildreth Meière Dunn © 2009

 

The Red and Gold Banking Room(1931) glows orange.   Hilly Meière, granddaughter of Hildreth Meière, and Vice President of the International Hildreth Meière Association, graciously allowed me to use this amazing photo.  As this writer, David W. Dunlap eloquently described it:

The Red Room is a glittering, vaulted grotto whose walls and ceilings are slathered in 8,911 square feet of mosaics that create an ambient color of blood orange, inscribed with a skein of gold highlights.

In a previous post, I wrote about orange speaking to both red and yellow, and in Meière’s room it’s as if the red and gold are creating orange out of their intimate conversation.   One Wall Street in NYC has been sold to a developer, and hopefully this will bode well for the Red and Gold Room.

The Red Room is a glittering, vaulted grotto whose walls and ceilings are slathered in 8,911 square feet of mosaics that create an ambient color of blood orange, inscribed with a skein of gold highlights.

 

U is for Urbana, IL, Prairie and Krannert Center, A to Z Challenge 2013

Prairie Fluff, Urbana, IL
Prairie Fluff, Urbana, IL. Photo by Wayne Stratz, October 1994.

U is for Urbana, IL, where Stratoz and I lived from 1993-1995 while I went to Library School.  There were two discoveries living in Urbana: Meadowbrook Park Prairie Restoration, and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Urbana Prairie Stalk. Photo by Wayne Stratz, November 1994.
Urbana Prairie Stalk. Photo by Wayne Stratz, November 1994.

Though I had grown up in Alberta, a prairie province, I was from the city, and thought of prairie as a flat space to plant wheat, or in the case of Illinois, corn and soybeans.

Meadowbrook Park, Urbana Prairie. Photo by Wayne Stratz, October 1994.
Meadowbrook Park, Urbana Prairie. Photo by Wayne Stratz, October 1994.

Stratoz gravitates to natural places, and walked the Urbana Prairie restoration in Meadowbrook Park many times.  Sometimes I went along, and learned about the essence of prairie, the plants, birds and animals that make up this ecosystem.  Many volunteers have worked on this restoration and the red-winged blackbirds must be pleased.

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana, IL. Photo by Margaret Almon, 1995.
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana, IL. Architect Max Abramovitz(1969) Photo by Margaret Almon, 1995.

The other discovery was the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, a dramatic brick structure designed by Max Abramovitz in 1969 for the University of Illinois.  The window of our student apartment bedroom looked out on the Krannert, and made for a majestic neighbor.  Shortly after we moved in, the Krannert was hit by lightning in one of the many storms that created tornado warnings, and a patch of bricks fell to the ground.

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana, IL. Architect Max Abramovitz(1969) Photo by Margaret Almon, 1995.
Our neighbor: Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana, IL. Architect Max Abramovitz(1969) Photo by Margaret Almon, 1995.

I bought student tickets to attend plays, concerts and dance at the Krannert, and Stratoz and I would walk across the street and be enveloped by the arts, and creative expression.

My previous A to Z posts.

More images on my A to Z Challenge 2013 Pinterest Board.

A to Z Blogging Challenge April 2013

 

 

 

R is for the Roycroft Inn, East Aurora, NY, A to Z Challenge 2013

The Roycroft Inn Sign
The Roycroft Inn Sign, East Aurora, NY. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

 

R is for the Roycroft Inn, in East Aurora, NY, where I spent my 40th birthday.  “Opened to Friends in 1905” as the sign says, by Elbert Hubbard, traveling-salesman-philosopher-writer, who founded the Roycroft Artisan community.

Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, NY
Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, NY. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

I liked the alphabet wallpaper, which is also very appropriate for the A to Z Challenge.  It appears R is for Rabbit.  I wonder  what the conglomeration of x-y-z is symbolized by.

Roycroft Inn Wallpaper
Roycroft Inn Wallpaper via Emily Testa on Flickr.

Bonus R’s with the Roycroft Symbol, though in reverse.

Roycrofter Symbol, East Aurora, NY
Roycrofter Symbol, East Aurora, NY. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

 

My previous A to Z posts.

More images on my A to Z Challenge 2013 Pinterest Board.

A to Z Blogging Challenge April 2013

 

Kentuck Knob Motif

K is for Kentuck Knob, Chalk Hill, PA, A to Z Challenge 2013

Kentuck Knob by Frank Lloyd Wright
Kentuck Knob on the Terrace. Photo by Wayne Stratz, 2005.

K is for Kentuck Knob, also known as the Hagan House, in Chalk Hill, PA.  The Hagans knew the Kaufmann’s, owners of Fallingwater, and decided to commission Frank Lloyd Wright in 1956 to design a house for them, Kentuck Knob.  To discover that there was another Frank Lloyd Wright house to visit, in addition to Fallingwater, was like winning a prize.

Kentuck Knob, Chalk Hill, PA. Photo by Wayne Stratz, 2005.
Kentuck Knob, Chalk Hill, PA. Photo by Wayne Stratz, 2005.

As wonderful as Fallingwater is, Kentuck Knob is a house that I could imagine living in.  One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian houses, modest, simple, like living on a compact houseboat.  The cantilevered overhangs with hexagonal skylights are striking in their toothed texture and leave hexagons of sunlight on the terrace.

Kentuck Knob Shadow
Kentuck Knob Light through the Porthole. Photo by Wayne Stratz, 2005.

 

On a side note, the house has a carport, a name apparently Frank Lloyd Wright popularized.  My grandparents in El Paso, TX, had a carport, which seemed a daring structure, open to the elements.  My house in Edmonton, Alberta, had a garage, and we plugged the car in every night to keep the engine warm so it would start on winter mornings.

My previous A to Z posts.

More images on my A to Z Challenge 2013 Pinterest Board.

A to Z Blogging Challenge April 2013

 

 

Frank Lloyd Wright Studio Pillars

I is for Illinois and an Introduction to Frank Lloyd Wright, A to Z Challenge 2013

Dana House Gable
Frank Lloyd Wright designed Dana-Thomas house in Springfield, IL. 1994. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

I is for Illinois and being introduced to the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.  I was attending the Library School at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Stratoz and I took some road trips.  The Dana-Thomas House in Springfield, IL was the first time I stepped into a Frank Lloyd Wright house and it was entering another dimension.  Commissioned by Susan Lawrence Dana, woman of many interests,  and  in 1902, she asked Frank Lloyd Wright to incorporate her family home, but otherwise let him loose.  I am thinking about my one-bedroom-two studio-rowhouse, built in 1900, and how it was a contemporary of the Dana-Thomas house.

Frank Lloyd Wright Studio Pillars
Stork Motif at Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Oak Park, IL. 1995. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

The next summer, Stratoz and I went to Oak Park, IL, and visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s first studio, where he lived and worked from 1889-1909.  Having a cat wander over to me as I sat outside was a bonus.

Friendly cat at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Oak Park, IL. 1995. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Margaret with friendly cat at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Oak Park, IL. 1995. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Then we headed to the Unity Temple, a Unitarian Universalist Church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1905.  The pastor, Augusta Chapin, was a friend of Anna Jones Wright, FLW’s mother.  When the old building was struck by lightning and burned down, Frank Lloyd Wright designed a new building entirely of exposed concrete, with no front entrance, and cubist pillars.

Unity Temple by Frank Lloyd Wright, Oak Park, IL
Unity Temple by Frank Lloyd Wright, Oak Park, IL. 1995. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

The Unity Temple site includes this quote by Frank Lloyd Wright:

On Organic Architecture

Organic buildings are the strength and lightness of the spiders’ spinning, buildings qualified by light, bred by native character to environment, married to the ground.

Organic architecture seeks superior sense of use and a finer sense of comfort, expressed in organic simplicity.

I would like to have a free architecture. Architecture that belonged where you see it standing – and is a grace to the landscape instead of a disgrace.

True ornament is not a matter of prettifying externals. It is organic with the structure it adorns, whether a person, a building, or a park. At its best it is an emphasis of structure, a realization in graceful terms of the nature of that which is ornament.

 

My previous A to Z posts.

More images on my A to Z Challenge 2013 Pinterest Board.

A to Z Blogging Challenge April 2013

G is for Grey Towers and Gifford Pinchot, A to Z Challenge 2013

Grey Towers Milford PA
Grey Towers Milford PA, home to Gifford Pinchot(1865-1946). Photo by Wayne Stratz.

 

G is for Grey Towers, the home of Gifford and Cornelia Pinchot(1881-1960)and built by Gifford’s parents James and Mary Pinchot in Milford, PA.  Grey Towers is now a National Historic Site. Gifford Pinchot had a passion for forestry and is a father of sustainable forest programs in the US, and also served two terms as governor of Pennsylvania.  Note the majestic mustache.

Gifford Pinchot
Gifford Pinchot

Cornelia Pinchot campaigned for women’s right to vote, child labor laws and after her husband died, ran for the governorship, as well as for Congress.

Grey Towers, Dining Room Finger Bowl
Grey Towers, Dining Room Finger Bowl. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Stratoz and I had driven by the signs for Grey Towers many times but it was closed for renovations;  finally we stopped in 2002 when it had reopened and took a tour. It rises up like a miniature castle, made of PA bluestone.  Beyond it’s formal appearance, we discovered the Cornelia’s sense of playfulness, with the outdoor dining room table called the Finger Bowl.  Guests passed the dishes afloat.

The Archives at Grey Towers, Milford, PA
The Letter Box at Grey Towers, Milford, PA. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

The Letter Box was an office for Gifford Pinchot and archive of his papers, which are now at the Library of Congress.  At the end of a reflecting pool was the Bait Box, a playhouse for the Pinchot’s son.  There was some larger than life Maple Leaf wallpaper inside the mansion, and I discovered that Gifford’s father made his fortune in wallpaper.

 

A to Z Blogging Challenge April 2013

F is for Fallingwater and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Favorite Yellow Ochre, A to Z Challenge 2013

Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright
Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright, Bear Run, PA. Photo by Wayne Stratz, 2005.

F is for Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Stratoz and I took a trip to see it for our birthdays in July of 2005.  Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings are a mixture of stubbornness, imagination and delight.  A house cantilevered over a stream, practically launched into the water.

Fallingwater Wayne
Wayne Stratz on the grounds of Fallingwater with a Rhododendron leaf, July 2005. Photo by Margaret Almon.

The tour guide told us that Frank Lloyd Wright used yellow ochre throughout the house, inspired by the color of faded Rhododendron leaves from the grounds.  Stratoz happened to find a leaf, and it matched his shirt perfectly. Perhaps Frank Lloyd Wright would approve.

What buildings have awed you?

More images at my A to Z Challenge Pinterest Board.

Blogging from A to Z April 2013