|Posted by George Pudlo on January 3, 2012 at 2:20 PM||comments (0)|
Special thanks to Efrain M. Diaz-Horna for the photographs and Molly Murphy, Director of the Gordon House
Conrad and Evelyn Gordon House, Frank Lloyd Wright 1957
879 W Main Street
Silverton, Oregon 97381
Frank Lloyd Wright's Gordon House is the only Wright designed structure in the State of Oregon, and subsequently the only now-public Wright site. The Gordon House has an interesting story to it:
Conrad and Evelyn Gordon first met with Wright in 1956 at Taliesin West, where they discussed plans to build the Gordon's a home in Oregon. It was to be one of the last Usonian Houses built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Mrs. Gordon, then in her forties, requested a place where a loom could be placed, as she was a weaver. She had always wanted a Frank Lloyd Wright House since the two were married. Mr. Gordon owned a dairy business and was nearing retirement. He was also a member of San Francisco's Bohemian Club, an exclusive club with an appreciation of the arts. The Gordon House was largely modeled after the "Dream House" Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Life Magazine in 1938, which was also recycled into the plan for the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Schwartz House. Mr. Gordon decided to wait until after his retirement in 1963 to have Wright's creation constructed posthumously, four years after Frank Lloyd Wright's death in 1959.
The Gordon House is T-shaped in its two story plan. The primary building material is concrete, though western red cedar wood is used in large quantities for the roof and second story detailing. The house was originally designed and built alongside a river in Wilsonville, Oregon, near Portland. It has three bedrooms. The master bedroom is on the ground floor, adjacent to the dining ares and the tall ceilinged Great Room. The other two bedrooms are on the upper story, both with independent, cantilevered balconies. The Gordon's lived in their Frank Lloyd Wright designed home until both of their deaths; Mr. Gordon in 1979 and Mrs. Gordon in 1997.
After the death of his parents, the Gordon's son sold the house, and by 2001 new owners planned to demolish it. The Frank LLoyd Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC) stepped in to prevent demolition. The new owners decided to donate the house. The Oregon Garden Foundation, a not for profit agency in Silverton, Oregon, was selected as the recipient of the Gordon House, which now operates the Gordon House as a museum. In collaboration with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, the newly established Gordon House Conservancy was able to move the house nearly 25 miles from its Wilsonville site to Silverton. The interior of the house, including furnishings and wood paneling, was meticulously dismantled before the removal of the roof, and the slicing of the upper story from the lower story for transport. The red concrete floor, many of the concrete wall blocks, and the bathroom tiles could not be saved, but were replicated in the new construction.
Amazingly, with assistance from the FLWBC, the Gordon House Conservancy was able to position the Gordon House in the exact solar orientation as the original location. As new concrete blocks were installed in the walls, the roof hovered in place above, and was subsequently lowered upon completion. The height of the walls are within one sixteenth of an inch of the original construction. A new concrete floor was installed above the foundation, and fitted with upgraded radiant heating pipes, as designed by Wright. This method of heating was common in Wright's Usonian Houses, as he found it to be a perfectly logical solution to the cold, concrete floors of Usonian House since heat rises. The Gordon House now stands available to the public as a house museum; a nearly perfect reality of Wright's vision. Tours are available year round, and the Gordon House is also available to rent for various social functions.