Archive for the ‘Historic Preservation’ Category

 The Wieboldt-Rostone House is located at 270 Lake Front Drive in Beverly Shores, just east of the National Lakeshore parking lot at Dunbar Avenue.

The Wieboldt-Rostone House carries the names of its sponsors. Wieboldt Stores (also known as Wieboldt’s) was a Chicago department store chain in business from the 1880s through the 1980s. Rostone, Inc., of Lafayette, Indiana showcased its new synthetic stone composite made of limestone waste and shale called Rostone.

This house was built to showcase an affordable and (supposedly) durable new building material. Rostone was available in a variety of colors and shapes, and could be fabricated to exact dimensions. It was billed as durable and never needing repairs. Had the reality actually lived up to its marketing, Rostone would have been a successful material. However, Rostone was not nearly as durable as hoped.

 After the 1933-34 Century of Progress World’s Fair the Rostone House was barged across Lake Michigan to Beverly Shores and positioned on the lakefront so that its expansive windows faced the lake. Lake Michigan’s harsh weather conditions did not help an already faulty product. Within 20 years, the Rostone exterior had severely deteriorated, actually disintegrated. Tenants at the time covered the exterior with a concrete stucco called Perma-stone. Only remnants of the original Rostone remain – at the front door exterior, at the interior foyer and around the fireplace in the living room.

Like the other the World’s Fair homes in Beverly Shores, the Rostone House fell into disrepair after being purchased by the government. The former owner-occupants had little incentive to spend money on repairs under their limited lease arrangement.

The Historic Landmarks Foundation partnered with the national park service in an effort to save the Century of Progress homes in Beverly Shores by subleasing the houses to people with historic preservation experience and the financial wherewithal to bring the houses back to their original state.

Rostone is a huge house. At 5,500-square-feet and 18 rooms, it is the largest of the Beverly Shores World’s Fair homes. The building housed the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore offices from 1970 to 1985. The house then stood vacant for 17 years before a lessee that was willing and financially able to take on the architectural preservation was found.

Ross Gambril began working on the Rostone house in 2002. Most of the exterior was removed over the past decade and Gambril has worked to replicate the look of Rostone exterior with a new precast concrete material. Progress has been slow. The house has been a work in progress for the past 10 years and from the looks of things, will continue in this state for quite a few more years.

As far as Beverly Shores architecture is concerned, this structure is a diamond in the rough. Hopefully, I will be able to update this story in the next year or two and report that this big old beauty has been restored.

 A Frank Lloyd Wright house located in Phoenix, AZ is in threat of being demolished unless Phoenix officials approve a historic preservation designation for the structure. This designation would temporarily extend protection from demolition while historic and Frank Lloyd Wright preservation organizations work to strike an agreement with developers who purchased the property.

Wright designed this house for his son David in the early 1950s. The David Wright House is said to be Wright’s most personal design and also one of the most innovative designs. Architectural critics and historians list the David Wright House as one of the 20 most significant buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright. See below for additional pictures of this house. Photos from savethewrighthouse.org/gallery/

Wright died in 1959 at the age of 91, and designed over 400 structures throughout his prolific career. While it is inevitable that some structures have been destroyed, the David Wright House will be the first intentionally destroyed Wright structure in the past 40 years — if demolition plans are successful.

If you want to join the Frank Lloyd Wright preservation effort, signing the online petition at; http://www.change.org/petitions/city-of-phoenix-save-the-david-and-gladys-wright-house

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy began working on the structure’s preservation after it found out in May that developers purchased the David Wright House and planned to demolish the house to make way for two luxury houses. (For more information about the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, visit www.savewright.org)

Real estate development company 8081 Meridian purchased the property from a buyer who previously promised that he would restore the house. The buyer sold the house, reportedly for $1.8 million. The asking price is now $2.2 million and the developer recently turned down a $2 million offer. The $2.2 million asking price could increase as the destruction date gets closer.

The Conservancy, a Chicago-based organization that works to preserve the remaining Wright structures, established a petition urging Phoenix officials to approve the structure’s landmark and historic preservation designation.

In September the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission unanimously recommend a landmark designation for the house. On November 7 the Phoenix City Council will make a decision on the structure’s landmark status. A landmark designation would delay demolition for three years, giving the Conservancy additional time to locate a buyer.