Saturday, January 9, 2010

George Kraigher House by Architect, Richard Neutra in Brownsville, Texas

Name: George Kraigher House
Architect: Richard Neutra,
with Frank L. Godwin, associate architect
Year Designed: circa 1936
Builder: A. W. Neck
Year Completed: 1937
Size: Unknown
Location: 525 Paredes Line Road, Brownsville Texas
Type: Residential
Style: International Style Modernism
Status: Excellent
Photographed by: Robert McLaughlin

I traveled with my extended family to South Padre Island, Texas between Christmas and New Years Day. While there, we made a side trip to Brownsville, Texas and Matamoris, Mexico, sister cities on either side of the Rio Grande river. At my request we made one stop of architectural interest on this rainy day at a home designed for George Kraigher by California Modern Architect, Richard Neutra. Kraigher was a Pan Am pilot stationed in Brownsville, which in those days was a hub to South America from the US. I jumped out and quickly shot off some photos from the hip while thirteen impatient family members waited in a van. I wish the photos were better, but I had to work with haste and the poor weather conditions of the day. Later, I had to seriously debate whether to give up one of the few sunny days at the beach to make a return trip, but my family vetoed the thought.

This house is special in that it represents a significant success story for the preservation of Modern architecture. In 2004 this house was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of the "Eleven Most Endangered Places." The house sat windowless and unoccupied while termites were destroying what remained. Fortunately a few people with some idea that a modern home could be historically significant intervened and convinced the city of Brownsville to purchase the home in 1999. The property was fenced, but no work was done to stabilize the structure. The placement of the house on the 2004 list convinced the city to commit to a 99 year lease to the University of Texas Brownsville/Texas Southmost College. The home was restored by the University from 2006 to 2008. I post these photos as a testament to the good work done by the people of Brownsville.

To see larger versions of these photos go to my flickr site.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year from All Your Friends at KCMODERN!

I took these photos over the Christmas Holiday as the snows started to build up and drifts began to grow. This particular area on the roof of our mid-century modern ranch is a drainage point for two gables and prone to wind drifts during snow and heavy wind. I wanted to share what I thought was a lovely snow veil cantilevered from the roof.

The icicles grow...somehow a metaphor for the year as it goes by...
We wish you a Happy, Healthy and Abundant New Year!
...We were talking the other day about upcoming events for 2010 ( check back soon for announcements on our late winter events) when we reflected on 2009 and the fun we had...Here is a short list of our efforts:
In February, there was "Memphis in Missouri, " an open event at the home of our friend Rod, showcasing his collection of Ettore Sottass designed furniture and decorative accents, along with other great 80's artists and designers.
In March we hosted a modern tour for the architectural students from Iowa State University and our friend and professor of architecture, Dan Naegele.
KCModern co-hosted an April tour of architecturally important houses, Louis Curtiss, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, Jones and Emmons, Clarence Kivett, Bruce Goff, Edward Tanner and Barry Byrne, (see previous posts) for the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy Spring Meetings, including reception dinners at the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Bott and Sondern-Adler houses.
In April, we planned and recorded an audio/visual oral history of Ted Seligson, architect FAIA/educator, preservationist and wonderful man.
In June we partied with our first "Martini Modern" at the wonderful home in KCMO designed by William S. Beckett. Part of the proceeds from the event was for the benefit of the Historic Kansas City Foundation.
In August we began our co-sponsored film events with the AIGA.
September was the David B. Runnells House Tour and reception at the "All-Climate Home" with our special guest Jill (Runnells) Grose.
November was our "Showcasing Green" Event at the Studio 804 designed house in KCKS.
At this time we are in the process of seeking not-for-profit status.
This will help us in our quest for continued research and advocacy for modern architecture and preservation of our modern assets...
As we build our calender of events, please let us know what you would be interested in... and look forward to a fun filled and educational KCModern 2010... We wish you the very best the New Year has to offer!