20 January 2007
Regular contributor Phil Adams sends a number of images of the work of Spencer & Powers, including the very interesting Hauberg estate. Donated in 1956 by the Hauberg children to the City of Rock Island, Illinois, the Hauberg House stands on ten acres originally landscaped by Jens Jensen. Mrs. Susanne Denkmann Hauberg was the youngest daughter of one of the founders of the Weyerhauser lumber empire; her fascination with the tulip inspired many of Spencer’s decorative details throughout the twenty-room mansion. I’ve never visited the property, which lies about four hours from my home. However, the house is now available for meetings and functions, and tours are given regularly; I intend to take advantage of that fact when I’m next in the Quad Cities.
6 January 2007
Happy New Year! Travels over the holidays gave me a few hours with my camera on Milwaukee’s East Side, where a trove of Prairie School residences by varied artists exists largely unknown. No house in this neighborhood is widely known apart from Wright’s Bogk House. Robert Spencer, a native of Milwaukee, designed a house for his father that has some lovely art glass, and George Maher is represented by a comfortable and, dare we say it, Maheresque, residence. But most houses in this neighborhood near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee are the work of men whose names will not be familiar to many, such as Russell Barr Williamson and Herman Buemming. Williamson is known to some because of his connection to Wright (he supervised construction of the Bogk House, and was involved with Arthur Richards and Arthur Munkwitz, other Wright clients), but Buemming is something of a mystery. As I’ve found true in other cases, his obscurity doesn’t necessarily mean that his work is of no interest, at least from the exterior. Check out his Green and Pringle houses, substantial dwellings that are more than the work of a dabbler.
It’s puzzling that Wright built next to nothing in the largest city or the capital of his home state. Wright famously said that Milwaukee wasn’t worth the dynamite required to blow it up, reflecting an antipathy that probably stemmed as much from the prurient interest of the locals in his various scandals as anything architectural. And Madison accepted Wright in a big way only after the man was dead, erecting Anthony Puttnam’s interpretation of Wright’s Monona Terrace a full six decades after it was conceived. Even so, the Prairie root planted by Wright flowered extravagently in both Milwaukee and Madison, each city boasting dozens of comfortable, innovative and beautiful dwellings in the Prairie mode.