Saturday, December 6, 2008

THEN & NOW -- Drummond's First Houses & Surprise Find

While we were driving looking for Don's first built houses we came across this very interesting house near 53rd and Woodland, KC, MO. The moment we saw it was "holy cow!" It was a fine example of the Chicago Style of Prairie School of Architecture. At first glance, it resembled the brick massing of Frank Lloyd Wright's 1902 Dana Thomas house in Springfield, Ill. (pictured last -- different budget!). Click on the image to enlarge.
The fine styling was definitely from a studied hand. After doing some research, I found the architect was Earnest O. Brostrom. (He designed some notable buildings in KC in the Prairie idiom, we will revisit him later.) This house was built in 1915, it was 25 years old when the black and white photo was taken. (In 1940 Kansas City took photos of all built structures for tax purposes.) The exterior appears to be in good shape with fine brickwork. Note the Wrightian planters and flaired roof lines at the fascia. I guess when the trees grew large enough the awnings were no longer needed. Click on the image to be continued...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Modern Photo of the Week - KC Lustron Home

Name: Lustron Home
Architect: Beckman and Blass with Engineer, Carl Strandlund
Year Designed: 1946
Builder: Lustron with unknown local dealer/builder
Year Built: Between 1948 and 1950
Size: Unknown
Location: Kansas City, MO (Valentine Area)
Type: Residential
Style: "One-Story Modified Ranch Style"
Post WWII Prefab Steel Construction
Status: Good
Photographer: Robert McLaughlin

More info:

KCMODERN and Houston's FLW Thaxton House

On a road trip to sister Marilyn's house in Tomball, Texas over Thanksgiving, we stopped by the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Houston. It was built in 1954 by William Thaxton, an insurance executive, for $125,000. FLW received a $25,000 fee. It is in an exclusive area of Houston called Bunker Hill Village on a picturesque 1.2 acre lot. Most of the original houses have been torn down and McMansions now reside on every street. In 1991, within days of the scheduled tear down, it sold to a doctor who saved the house. The original house, which was a parallelogram of 1800 square feet, was saved, the courtyard and the pool were all left original except for a doorway on each end of the house which was cut to a new 10,000 square foot addition. The addition wrapped around the courtyard from each end of the house.
The design on the gate was the best indication it was a Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Speeding along the Oklahoma Turnpike, speed limit of 75 (woohoo!!), we saw the famous Vinita McDonald's Golden Arches on I-44. Built originally as a Howard Johnsons, it was converted into a McDonald's. The golden arches stretch across the entire road. It claimed to be the largest McDonald's until the Russians built one bigger which has been rumored to have contributed towards the end of the Cold War. Charles Phoenix take note!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

THEN & NOW -- Drummond's First Houses

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I have reason to count my blessings, but I don't think 2008 has been such a great year, so bring on 2009! Okay, sorry about that, back to our cruise of Don Drummond's first houses. . .

Don's in-laws' asked him and his wife, Francie, to design and build them a house near Arno and State Line, KCMO. This would be 1949. They wanted to downsize and customize a house to their lifestyles. The result, as you see here, is a two-story structure, (he built few two stories) of board and brick. An understated facade with exposed structure and a modern sensibility with lots of large windows, especially on the rear or southside. Note the larger glazed area on the second floor for northern light to help facilitate Mrs. Woodruff's painting.

Amazingly, it's in a neighborhood active in build ups, blow outs and insensitive additions, the house exterior remains intact. Even the diamond leaded windows and one car garage. The homes' simple lines and natural use of materials gives it a unique distinctiveness in a typical traditional neighborhood.
Next we drove by these houses in Prairie Village on 79th Street and Colonial. These houses are versions of the house plan featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Called the "Home for You in '52"(actually building them since 1950, with it's success, it was considered an important ranch house design). Designed by Francie Drummond with help from architect, Gier Sloan( He's another story Robert or I will go into) "as suggested by Miller Nichols" of JC Nichols Real Estate Co., who had a strong opinion about how houses should look in his developments.

Awesome tree! Must have been 25-30 years old in vintage photo...don't you love it that you can see the garage on the house on the next street in the background. You get a real feel for the "first-ring" suburbs. Almost looks the same, though no door shutters, and the door has been altered with a sidelight( probably an 80's thing) typical Drummond low chimney.
There were numerous variations of this plan: straightline, as depicted here, L-shaped,2-3 bedroom, 1 car or 2 car garage, dining room, multipurpose room, slab/basement, etc. . . I never saw an original 4 bedroom example. This was the most sought after house plan Drummond built or should I say Drummond built more of this house plan than any other.

Talk about a "skyscape"! Prairie Village is a city of trees, but at one time builders sold lots with "views" of the city, nature, etc. The most striking thing to me is the garage door replacement with a "manufactured" door with raised panels, ugh! The easiest way to impact a "period" home is with poor choices of doors and windows...

Interesting similarities in the grammar to the Woodruffs' house are the stained vertical board siding (often "pecky" cypress or redwood), ribbon windows, kitchen in front and Francie's penchant for function with a "service" entrance into the kitchen area. . . Did I miss anything on my comparisons -- would love to hear your comments. . . to be continued. . .