Over the past year and a half, TKWA has overseen the restoration of the historic Albert and Edith Adelman Residence, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in Fox Point, WI. Last month, we presented the project to a group of over 90 Wright homeowners, curators, and preservationists at the FLW Building Conservancy Annual Conference. Held from October 16th to the 20th, this conference is a venue to share preservation and curation strategies, talk shop with architectural enthusiasts, and to learn more about Wright and his contemporaries.
Craig Adelman, the current owner of the home, started off our presentation with a compelling introduction. The youngest of three boys, he grew up in this house with his parents Albert and Edith. He told the story of how “out of the blue” his father drove through a cold winter night to Wright’s studio in Spring Green, WI unannounced to meet with him about a design for a new home. He sat shivering in his car for an hour waiting for Wright, who was conducting another meeting at the time. Craig observed: “Similarly, I contacted Allen Washatko of TKWA out of the blue” to commission a full restoration of the home. This is TKWA’s second Wright-designed project after the First Unitarian Meeting House restoration and addition in Madison, WI.
Justin Racinowski (TKWA) who served as project manager, and Tony Kartsonas, historic finish specialist with Historic Finishes LLC, followed up Craig’s intro with a discussion of the goals and challenges of the restoration, including the custom concrete block wall cleaning and repair, concrete floor removal and replacement, cedar shake roof replacement, and the reconditioning of 93 windows and 48 doors. We explained that energy efficiency was addressed with careful incorporation of insulation and new mechanical equipment that would remain hidden throughout the house.
The theme of the homeowners meeting that evening was wood restoration procedures—which we had no shortage of information to discuss. Much of the Adelman residence consists of wood components: walls, ceilings, windows, doors, eaves, built-in furniture and cabinets. A skilled wood restoration crew from Restoric LLC spent countless months bringing the wood surfaces back to life under the direction of Tony Kartsonas, who has a number of Wright building restorations under his belt. They used special techniques and products that are sensitive to the original surfaces. Tony discussed the procedures we used for assessing and restoring the wood surfaces, including analyses to determine finish types/products, techniques for reconditioning existing finishes, as well as stripping and refinishing methods, as a primer (pun intended) for Wright homeowners to begin their own repair projects.
While we greatly enjoyed sharing our project, we also came to this conference with another intention: The opportunity to tour spectacular Wright-designed buildings that in many cases are never open to the public. The conference is located in a different state every year, and this year was held in Grand Rapids, MI. We toured 13 houses over 3 days, 4 located in the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area, 7 in the Kalamazoo area, and 2 in Grand Rapids. We deeply appreciate the homeowners’ willingness to open their homes to us. Here are some photos of the tour highlights:
Next year the conference will take place in Phoenix, AZ at the historic Biltmore Hotel. Among the tours slated for the conference, we will be particularly interested in the David Wright Residence, which was almost demolished earlier this year by an insensitive developer who wanted the land to build a cluster of McMansions. The FLW Building Conservancy stepped in to prevent its demolition through public outreach, and ultimately found a buyer and brokered a deal to save the house.
For more information:
Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Annual Conference