Jump to content

Organic Modern in Texas


Jersey01

Recommended Posts

Bruce Goff designed this INCREDIBLE organic home in Dallas.

Organic modern is a topic often overlooked in our city with the majority of our modernism being that of the Miesian type.

I know of some of the obvious, such as the Bruce Goff Durst House here in Houston and the now demolished Mitchell House by Kamrath, but what do we have left that is as big of a statement as the Dallas home?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's a book out by Lisa Germany named "Great Houses of Texas" that features the Durst-Gee house by Bruce Goff here in Houston. It also includes, amongst others, the Bass house by Paul Rudolph in...Dallas or Ft. Worth; can't remember which.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bruce Goff designed this INCREDIBLE organic home in Dallas.

Organic modern is a topic often overlooked in our city with the majority of our modernism being that of the Miesian type.

I know of some of the obvious, such as the Bruce Goff Durst House here in Houston and the now demolished Mitchell House by Kamrath, but what do we have left that is as big of a statement as the Dallas home?

Darned little. It was never popular for big houses, with the exception of the ones you mentioned. The Carousel House probably would have counted, too. There's an interesting circular-inspired house by Dr. Davey Lieb, an amateur architect, on the bayou in Memorial somewhere. There's one FLW in Memorial, though heavily altered (some would say "made livable") and a FLW-inspired two-story on Mandell, unfortunately painted a dark gray. I don't think anyone ever conclusively ID'd that as a Mackie and Kamrath. And of course, Tiel Way, which is a small Mackie and Kamrath enclave. Goff and his proteges were way more active in Oklahoma.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's kind of a BS term that Frank Lloyd Wright tried to coin for his architecture, although he never could define exactly what it was. Personally, I just use it because you can't really call what Goff or the others did Wrightian. I've heard organic expressionism used, but organic seems to work ok.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Carousel House probably would have counted, too. There's an interesting circular-inspired house by Dr. Davey Lieb, an amateur architect, on the bayou in Memorial somewhere.

These are definitely more alligned with what I'm thinking. Something outrageous. Penguin Arms is another example of what I'm referring to. And the Lieb house - I've always wanted to see inside this place. It definitely shows some Bruce Goff and John Lautner influence. I love it.

Houston does have some modernist homes with organic qualities, but less with more daring statements. The Kamrath houses on Tiel Way do exhibit this a bit, but are not really over-the-top. They are quite beautiful. There are qualities of John Zemanek's houses that could be considered organic as well, though also industrial and experimental.

I've found it at least mildly interesting that there is no work by anyone like Bart Prince or Wallace Cunningham in this big city, or at least impersonations.

Edited by Jersey01
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't forget all the Krakower/Greene stuff, Marty. That's organic as anything, what with Herb Greene being a Goff protege himself.

Heh. Ben, I didn't forget but I didn't want to say anything in case you wanted to post. You are actually more familiar with the houses than I am -- outwardly they are not too obviously unusual, right? Now, if the Long Point Clinic building and the Lyne house were still around...

Oh, and this is just me, but I've always considered the term "organic" to mean site-specific but not particularly showy, and making use of obviously natural materials like stone or wood siding. Non-90-degree angles and emphasis on horizontal lines are also prominent features.

"Expressionist," though throws you strongly into the Goff/Greene/Prince/Bowlby et. al camp, with strong emphasis on dramatic gestures, circular-influenced shapes, and prominent attention to textures and ornamentation. I think where they intersect and where the term "organic expressionist" may come in is in their shared use of natural materials and acute angles. In some ways, anyway. And of course, when you start getting a lot of sharp angles, you start approaching the G-word! (Googie!)

Edited by marmer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bruce Goff designed this INCREDIBLE organic home in Dallas.

Organic modern is a topic often overlooked in our city with the majority of our modernism being that of the Miesian type.

I know of some of the obvious, such as the Bruce Goff Durst House here in Houston and the now demolished Mitchell House by Kamrath, but what do we have left that is as big of a statement as the Dallas home?

way cool. thanks for the link.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

BenH responds with too much information once again. All photos by Benjamin Hill, unless otherwise noted. My sources are mentioned in the text. This post is far from complete, so check back often, as there is always new information coming to light.

MacKie & Kamrath

MacKie & Kamrath are Houston’s most well-known advocates (some would say copyists) of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. I can say from what I’ve seen of Kamrath’s work that he did much more than copy; he was a very talented architect, designer and artist. Regan Miller, a local architect with the firm Miller/Dahlstrand, wrote his graduate thesis about MacKie & Kamrath. It can be found here: http://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/13763

Miller includes a pretty comprehensive list of addresses, as well. There is also a small booklet available from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center that outlines their entire collection of Karl Kamraths’ drawings that were donated after his death. From what I’ve read, Kamrath was the firm’s primary designer, while Fred MacKie handled the administrative activities, worked with the clients and in at least one case, was project manager. Miller has already documented a large amount of M&K’s work, so I will only include the residential highlights. A detailed biography of Karl Kamrath by historian Stephen Fox can be found

here.

Karl F. Kamrath House – 8 Tiel Way - 1951 It would be hard not to say that this was Kamrath’s best house. It was his showpiece, and one of the buildings he spent the most time on. It has been heavily documented and was recently featured in the book Organic Architecture: The Other Modernism by Alan Hess and Alan Weintraub.

Front Exterior:

DSC_0002finalcopy.jpg?t=1235497914

More photos of 8 Tiel Way and a presentation drawing by Kamrath (big file):

http://www.americanheritage.org/Houston_Ho...ome_Article.pdf

Ballantyne House – 2 Tiel Way – 1961. The Ballantynes commissioned this house to be built across the ravine from Kamrath’s own house. Dr. Ballantyne was responsible for the landscaping, which survives to this day. The Ballantyne household consisted of Dr. & Mrs. Ballantyne and their seven children. From the street, the house is deceptively small, but in fact has enough bedrooms to accommodate the family and a number of guests. Unlike Wright, and consequently Kamrath’s, idea of centering the household around the hearth, the Ballantyne house is built around the kitchen. All traffic converges at the kitchen; this was done so that Mrs. Ballantyne would have an easier time keeping track of the family. A visitor walking in the front door would see the large, sunken living room to the left, which cantilevers out over the ravine shared with #8 Tiel Way. The living room focuses on a massive concrete block fireplace, surrounded by built-in furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows that provide views of the ravine. To the right of the front door is the path to the kitchen, which intersects with a long hallway to the bedrooms. The bedroom hallway is clearly a nod to the drafting room at Taliesin West, or a similar Wright design. Primary materials for the house include the concrete block visible from the exterior, and large amounts of redwood. The house is in pristine condition; most of the appliances are original.

I photographed this house for a special section in the Houston Chronicle. The photographs below were not published as part of that section.

Fireplace and living room:

FireplaceCopyrightSmall.jpg?t=1235497078

Front Exterior:

2TielWay.jpg?t=1235497628

Houston Chronicle Distinctive Properties Article with photos by Ben Hill

DistinctiveProperties-TielWay.jpg?t=1238951373

Other highlights of Kamrath's residential work.

George Mitchell House - 11010 Wickwood - 1963

MacKie & Kamrath's masterpiece. Is well documented in John Kaliski's CITE Magazine article "The Wright Stuff; Houston’s Natural House", which appeared in CITE 7, Fall 1984 and was reprinted in Ephemeral City (I’m using it as my main source for this post).

Houston Mod's page on the Mitchell House.

Link to Photos by Michael Brichford:

http://spacecitymod.blogspot.com/2007/08/11010-wickwood.html

R.J. Gonzalez House - 48 Tiel Way - 1951

DSC_0017-2.jpg?t=1235498114

Article with presentation drawing:

http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r85/zoo...pg?t=1238951511

Stuart N. Campbell House - 414 Thamer Lane - 1968

CampbellHouse.jpg?t=1235504904

A gift to all here at HAIF, a previously undocumented house by MacKie & Kamrath:

Dr. and Mrs. Daniel Roark House - 402 Flintdale - 1964

Dr. and Mrs. Roark commissioned MacKie & Kamrath to design this house in the mid-60's. According to Mrs. Roark, I was the first person outside of the family to photograph the house, and Houston Mod vice president Jeff Carowitz and I were the first people to contact them about documenting it. Like the Ballantyne house, the Roark house has many Asian element that endear it to a heavily wooded site (the house isn't visible from the street and this has undoubtedly contributed to its obscurity in Kamrath's catalogue.) Mrs. Roark told us that she and her husband worked primarily with Fred MacKie, who appears to have served as the contractor or project architect on their house. It was designed by Kamrath initially, but MacKie handled the day to day work on the house.

Front exterior from the driveway:

_DSC0026.jpg?t=1235513277

Dining room and entryway with shoji screens:

_DSC0003.jpg?t=1235513344

Rear exterior:

RoarkHouseRearExterior.jpg?t=1235513399

Note the indoor fountain under the staircase in the lower left corner of the photo. This was originally intended to be a small rock garden, but the Roarks felt a a fountain fit better in the scheme of the house.

Things You May Not Know About MacKie & Kamrath

1. Many of the houses standing in River Oaks today were renovated at one time or another by MacKie & Kamrath.

2. They did many buildings in Lake Jackson,TX in association with Alden B. Dow, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's apprentices.

3. Karl Kamrath played competitive tennis throughout his life and was a founding member of the Houston Racquet Club (as well as it's architect).

4. MacKie & Kamrath and Wylie Vale renovated River Oaks Country Club in the 1960's.

5. Preston Bolton, Kenneth Bentsen, Robert Bowles and Walter S. Poage III (House of Formica designer) all worked for MacKie & Kamrath at some point during their careers (usually at the very beginning).

6. MacKie & Kamrath's last residential project was built in 1980 at 22 West Still Forest in Memorial.

Robert Bowles & Mary Lynn Bowles:

Robert and Mary Lynn Bowles are a husband and wife team who designed at least three homes that were heavily influenced by Wright's approach. Two were in Houston before being demolished last year. The third was a "contemporary" built for their son Gary in Longview. Robert and Mary are both Rice graduates and went on to work for several of Houston's distinguished firms. Robert worked for Travis Broesche and MacKie & Kamrath. Mary did detailing for Irving R. Klein, amongst other work.

In mid-2008, after some serious internet searching and positively hounding historian Stephen Fox for information about Bowles & Bowles, I finally located an architect named Robert Bowles in Marshall,TX about 30 miles outside of Longview. I wrote to him and his wife Mary responded via email on June 16, 2008 with a brief but detailed history about their activities with other firms and their own commissions. Their first house was designed for her parents in 1956 at 11910 Knippwood Lane in Memorial. Mary designed the floor plan, elevations and supervised construction while Robert handled the structural design.

Mary described several unique features of the house:

"One unusual feature was the master bathroom having a glass wall that opened onto a small private landscaped area. Of course, the entry had a plant box that started outside & went thru the glass by the entrance door on into the entry inside."

William Boyd, a nationally known appraiser, bought the house from Mary's parents at an unknown date and lived there with his family until retiring to the Bear Creek area in 2008. The house was acquired by Elan Custom Homes, who in the throws of the "housing boom", demolished it.

Below are some of the last photos taken of the house prior to its demolition.

Front Exterior

_DSC0010.jpg?t=1231258489

Front Entry

_DSC0043-2.jpg?t=1231263119

Pool Area

_DSC0029-2.jpg?t=1231263032

The second house the Bowles designed was for Mary's uncle James Weiler and his wife Christine. Mary traces the house's design and construction to about 1960. It was a classic late-Wrightian design that featured bright, multicolored built-in cabinets and pink Mexican brick. Mary described it thus:

"The kitchen was an elongated hexagon in plan. The Master Bedroom was a complete hexagon in plan with an exposed sloping ceiling. The outside corner of the hexagonal bedroom was mitered glass with as you know, the landscaping carrying out the hexagonal theme."

James Weiler helped found the patent division of Fulbright & Jaworski and was the first mayor of Hedwig Village in Memorial. He lived in the house until his death in late 2007. The kitchen was featured with a full page article and pictures in the 1963 issue of Better Homes & Gardens Kitchen Ideas magazine. It was demolished in 2008 by another custom home builder.

Front Exterior:

_DSC0011.jpg?t=1235519523

A detailed discussion with many images by BenH and sevfiv can be found here:

http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/haif/i...showtopic=14742

Other known works by Bowles & Bowles:

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Longview,TX

Unnamed Restaurant, Marshall,TX - Demolished

Gary Bowles house, Longview,TX

Robert & Mary Bowles currently live in Marshall,TX.

Joseph Krakower with Herb Greene:

Joseph Krakower's career in Houston can be broken down into two known phases: his work before Herb Greene joined his firm, and his work with Greene as a collaborator. Krakower’s own residential designs were often medium-sized to large homes, built for upper middle class clients. They are trim and spacious, missing the slight whimsy of Greene’s influence. The best examples of Krakower’s residential work prior to Greene are the Davidson house at 2418 Maroneal, the Barvin house at 3506 Glen Arbor Drive and the Mandell house at 3506 South Parkwood Dr., all of which are still standing (according to historian and architect Ben Koush, Greene had arrived in Krakower’s office at the time the Mandell house was under construction). The Davidson house was featured on the 1958 Contemporary Arts Association Home Tour.

Davidson House (2418 Maroneal)

_DSC0356.jpg?t=1231265935

The Barvin House on Glen Arbor is also a good example of Krakowers' work before Greene:

_DSC0045-3.jpg?t=1235519414

When Herb Greene arrived in Krakower’s office in 1955, he was put in charge of most of the design work (his website describes his role as "consulting"). Greene had worked for a former Taliesin Fellowship apprentice named John Lautner, one of the few members of that institution that would actually practice architecture with some success. Krakower and Greene’s work from 1955 on began to incorporate a variety of influences like Asian design elements (the Mendell house at 3615 N. Braeswood) and other “organic” touches. Both Greene and Robert Bowlby, a draftsman in Krakower’s office from January to November 1956, had known each other at the University of Oklahoma Architecture School where Bruce Goff was in charge from 1943 to 1955. Both were Goff’s apprentices at points during their respective careers; Bowlby left Krakower’s office in November 1956 to begin his apprenticeship with Goff, and ended up doing working drawings of the Durst house at 323 Tynebrook, Goff’s only house in Houston, which was designed in collaboration with Krakower’s office. Herb Greene evidently supervised the original construction.

Greene’s arrival in Houston coincided with an interesting string of projects built primarily for members of Krakower’s extended family or friends. The first of these was the Lurie House at #7 Pine Forest Circle on the outskirts of Tanglewood, built for Miriam Folloder and David Lurie in 1955. This house is distinguished by its cantilevered carport, diamond-shaped chimney and frosted ribbon windows, standard features in Greene’s arsenal of detailing. It is still owned by the Lurie family. Lurie was Krakower’s brother-in-law.

Front Exterior:

_DSC0019.jpg?t=1231264334

Rear Exterior:

LurieHouseRearExterior.jpg?t=1235501956

Another interesting house was designed almost completely by Herb Greene for a widower named Harry Folloder and his sons in 1956 on Mossycup Lane near Tallowood Baptist Church and was finished in 1958. In 1961 Folloders’ second wife Muriel moved in and lives there to this day. She has kept the house in good condition, though it saw extensive additions in the 1970’s by architect Bob Bell. Originally around 3200 square feet, the house has been expanded to over 6000 square feet to accommodate a live-in caretaker for Mrs. Folloder-Philip’s mother, who lived in the house for the last years of her life. I wrote Mrs. Folloder-Phillips in 2008 and she invited me to tour the house and photograph it. It features poured terrazzo floor with a raised platform for the fireplace, redwood siding, slate countertops, several instances of floor-to-ceiling glass, and many skylights. Greene also included many built-ins.

Rear Exterior:

_DSC0130.jpg?t=1231266161

Living Room to Kitchen:

FolloderHouseLivingRoom.jpg?t=1235502137

Front Exterior:

_DSC0028.jpg?t=1236226240

Greene's only solo project in Houston was the Lyne house at 3605 Meriburr Lane. He has an entry for it on his website that can be seen here:

http://www.herbgreene.org/GREENE%20IMAGES/...YNE%20HOUSE.htm

The house has long since been demolished, and appears to have never been maintained properly.

After Greene left Houston at the end of the 1950's, Krakower's only known project was the Jewish Institute for Medical Research in the Medical Center. There's an article about its conception and construction here: http://www.bcm.edu/solutions/v2i1/jewishbuilding.html

In the summer of 2008, I spoke with Rae Krakower, Joseph's wife, by telephone who told me that Krakower was a Rice graduate, and later attended USC for his graduate degree. Early on, he worked for Lenard Gabert and designed the pulpit at Temple Emanu-El. He designed offices for Dr. Michael Debakey, along with a rec center for the Houston housing authority, a fire station, a library and also worked for HUD and the agency of International Development. During the time Herb Greene was with the firm, his office was in a two-story house at 505 Avondale. He passed away in 1988. Mrs. Krakower currently resides in Berkeley,CA and has three sons.

Herb Greene has returned to Houston at least once to see the Folloder house. Mrs. Folloder-Phillips told me that he knocked on her door and introduced himself out of the blue. She also sent copies of my photos to Greene and we've exchanged a few emails regarding addresses I'm still looking for of his work. He currently resides in Berkeley, California. His new website is under construction and can be found here: http://www.herbgreene.org/index.html

Other Projects by Krakower/Greene:

Mandel Residence - 3617 North Braeswood

Mandelhouse.jpg?t=1231274721

Salzman House - 3615 North Braeswood - Was a Mod of the Month a few years ago. Is currently being remodeled/renovated. It was not originally lime green.

Southwestern Bell Telephone, later Uniroyal Tire Building - 3333 Fanin Street

http://www.herbgreene.org/GREENE%20IMAGES/...WEST%20BELL.htm

Houston Typewriter Exchange Building - 2201 Caroline Street

Mendell House Project (Unbuilt)

http://www.herbgreene.org/GREENE%20IMAGES/...LL%20HOUSE.html

Proposal for Temple Emanu-El

http://www.herbgreene.org/GREENE%20IMAGES/...%20EMANUEL.html

Special thanks to Ben Koush for his research and address list. Also to Stephen Fox, Herb Greene, Muriel Folloder-Phillips, Robert Bowlby, Marty Merritt and anyone whose name I did not intentionally forget in this section.

Wylie W. Vale

As Kaliski stated in the CITE 7 article, “Among Houston architects better known for their organic work, Wylie W. Vale must be included”. If you’ve spent any time on this board, you know there is a very large thread dedicated to locating Vale’s houses, traditional and modern alike. It’s a pet project that I’m sure everyone is completely sick of by now. You can find it here: http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/haif/i...=10882&st=0

Wylie Vale and his wife Eileen are both Rice graduates who ran a company called Custom Builders that supplemented Wylie’s architectural practice (Then known as Vale Architects). There office was at 517 W. Gray in 1955; Wylie handled the architecture and Eileen designed interiors. Custom Builders was instrumental in creating the image of neighborhoods like Tanglewood and many of the large ranch houses that are scattered throughout the neighborhoods of Memorial. Prior to founding his own practice, Vale had worked as a draftsman for Moore & Lloyd and as a designer for C.C. Rouse construction and Travis Broesche.

Vale designed many highly customized houses that he called “Contemporary Country”, as well as several large residences that incorporated the ideas of both Wright and Mies. Mr. Vale never referred to these residences as “modern” but either as “moderne” or “contemporary” (which was thought of at the time as being distinct from the Miesian interpretation of modernism. The 50’s houses in Riverside Terrace are examples of contemporary, specifically the one by Wilson, Morris & Crain at 3504 Oakdale Ct., and those that Phillip G. Willard, Lucian Hood, Jr. and Lars Bang designed together.) Moderne seems to imply the older style of Art Moderne, but even this does not seem to adequately describe Vale’s meaning. Regardless, in a telephone conversation on April 14, 2007, Mr. Vale counted Frank Lloyd Wright among his influences, as well as his friend Karl Kamrath, and his former Rice professors Stayton Nunn and Brigadier General William Ward Watkin. For this thread, I’ll only include these custom residences that are known.

3780 Willowick – 1949 - Albert Plummer House (Demolished) At the time it was completed, this was the most expensive home in River Oaks. It was a single story, curvilinear residence on 2.658 acres that sloped down to a bayou. It had three bedrooms and ceilings that varied from 9-15 feet in height. There were also three bedrooms to accommodate live-in staff. It featured frame and double wall masonry construction, ledgestone exterior walls, a built up roof with copper trim and flagstone floors. The exterior entry had intricate ironwork reminiscent of the solar screens that Edward Durrell Stone became infatuated with during the latter half of his career. I have photographs from a 1992 Sotheby’s flyer when the house was last on the market, and I am trying to get permission from my source to distribute them since the house no longer exists. A small photo can be seen in the demolished or altered buildings section of the Houston Architecture Guide. It is one of River Oaks’ greatest lost modern houses.

3723 Knollwood – 1950 – Second Townsend House

DSC_0063.jpg?t=1235509268

This house was built for Townsend’s daughter. Built along similar levels of luxury as the first Townsend house, much of it has been remodeled as it has seen several owners. This house is featured with a better description in Kaliski’s article.

10 Shadder Way - 1957 - Thomas P. Hull House

HullHouse.jpg?t=1235508769

Thomas Hull was a vice president with McDermott Oil when he hired Vale to design this flat-roofed house. The back yard can be seen from Rienzi (so look for it on the Azalea Trail). When I spoke with Mr. Vale, he said that this was one of the houses he was most proud of, and that I should do everything I could to find it. The Hull house was renovated by Stern & Bucek Architects for it's current owners, the Newar family. Photographs pre-renovation can be seen on Stern & Bucek's website.

118 Hickory Ridge – 1961 – George Mayes House

DSC_0098.jpg?t=1235519716

Mayes house before restoration. A low slung, flat-roofed contemporary built for the Mayes family. Every detail appears to be custom, including some of the furniture and interior walls decorated with stone. Eddie Mayes recently sold the house to a couple that have installed complimentary landscaping and are working on restoring it. Little is known about this house’s history.

11406 Memorial Drive – 1961 - Leonard K. Frankel House – This house appears to be a one-story, flat-roofed version of the second Townsend house in River Oaks. It is currently owned by a former Syrian ambassador and appears to be well maintained. Mr. Vale couldn’t remember any background information when I spoke with him, and I have yet to make contact with it’s current owner or get a clear photograph.

11302 Memorial Drive – 1949 – Wylie W. Vale House – Vale’s first house for his family is lavishly secluded by heavily landscaped gardens and cascading pools in the back. When seen up close, one can detect Wright’s influence, specifically his Prairie period. This house would set the template for Vale’s future work, specifically his “contemporary country” style. It is a luxurious, Texan take on the California ranch house and shows the influence of architects like Cliff May. It has been fully restored by it's current owners. The two Woods houses in Katy,TX share similarities to this house.

John S. Chase

I know very little about John Chase, but he deserves a place here due to his residential work in the 1950's. He was the first African-American architect to gain membership in the American Institute of Architects and went on to receive many local and international commissions, including many at Texas Southern University. A brief bio and list of major projects can be found here:

http://www.hnoma.net/index_files/chase.htm

For our purposes, however, his residential work from the 1950s is most relevant. His own house at 3512 Oakdale Court is one of several he designed in Riverside Terrace, and it is quite spectacular.

DSC_0007copy.jpg?t=1231276175

Stephen Fox in the 2002 Houston Architecture Guide describes it from a more informed perspective than mine:

"The architect's own house is bisected by a two-story glass wall lighting a cantilevered stair that dramatically spans a fountain trough."

Other Chase designs.

3502 Arbor Ave - 1959

3402 Binz Ave - 1968

A huge house with a glass walled second story similar to that found in Chase's own house. Is visible from North MacGregor Way.

Arthur Moss Of all the architects that practiced or dabbled in the organic, Arthur Moss is one of the most enigmatic. This is very odd, given the impact one of his projects would go on to have. Two buildings can be attributed to him with certainty:

The Penguin Arms Apartments – 2902 Revere Street – 1950.

_MG_0303.jpg?t=1238948389

The Penguin Arms was featured in the original article by Douglas Haskell in House & Home Magazine that coined the term “Googie”. Only a picture is shown, but it clearly is Moss’ building. Here is Haskells’ original article:

http://www.spaceagecity.com/googie/househome.htm

A more detailed description and interior photographs can be found in Kaliski’s CITE article.

The Triton 101 Apartments – 3411 Cummins Lane – Date unknown. The Triton 101 was one of the most bizarre buildings in Houston. An article found in either the Houston Post or Chronicle archives by Houston Mod board member Jason Smith (known to HAIF as Willowisp) features a picture of the complex and a description of a typical unit and the facilities. It says that the building was owned by the MLM Investment Company, MLM being the surname initials of Arthur Moss, Carl T. Long, Jr. and Phil Moss. I can only assume that Phil was Arthur’s brother or was related to him in some way. The Triton 101 still exists, but has been remodeled to the point of being unrecognizable. Here’s the exterior photo of the building as it originally appeared:

Triton101Apartments.jpg?t=1235502901

Using this photo as evidence, I believe it’s safe to assume that at least one more building, a private residences, is also a Moss design. It's very striking and is located at 7926 Chevy Chase Dr. in Briarbend. According to the Harris County Appraisal District, this house is owned by Philemon Moss, whom I also assume is the Phil Moss of the MLM Investment Company. HCAD says it was built in 1959. Phil’s son Gary runs Moss Landscaping, Inc. I have made repeated attempts to contact Gary and Phil, but none have been successful. Here is the Moss House:

DSC_0052copy.jpg?t=1235503006

Arthur Moss’ office was in a private residence at 2246 Glen Haven in Braeswood.

Allen R. Williams

Little is known about Allen Williams, although Russell Howard has recently confirmed that he was much more prolific than originally thought and that some of the houses built with wavy shingled roofs are his designs including buildings I believed to be designed by Arthur Moss. Howard has spoken at length with Stacey Williams', Mr. Williams wife, who worked in his architectural practice. Mr. & Mrs. Williams house was located at 4603 Ivanhoe, and originally had a wavy roof. It is for sale as of this writing.

http://search.har.com/engine/dispSearch.cf...mp;backButton=Y

According to Mrs. Williams, there was a companion house behind theirs for Mr. Williams' parents, which has been demolished. The Williams house has since had a more conventional roof installed. Mrs. Williams said that the idea of the wavy roofs was to look like water, it was very expensive and they weren't the only people that built houses that way.

One of these houses is in Tynewood at 351 Tynebridge.

351Tynebridge.jpg?t=1235503059

I’ve traded emails with the owner, who is a landscape architect. He cannot confirm that Williams designed the house, but I think the wavy shingle patterns do. He said that the house has a few elements that we now call sustainable, but did not go into detail. Evidently the roof has had problems too. Williams designed at least three more houses in Tynewood, on Hermosa Ct., all of which bear his signature angular detailing, just not to the extreme seen in the Tynebridge house. Speaking of Hermosa, the house at the very end is NOT a MacKie & Kamrath design. There is no record of it in his drawings.

The other house is in Meyerland, but appears nearly identical from the street. The owner appears to have given up on the roof and installed of newer one.

DSC_0001copy.jpg?t=1235503262

Russell Howard has secured photos of the original drawings of this house, which have Williams' name on them. Photo by Russell Howard

ygpEE64.jpg?t=1238952296

Many of William's designs have similar detailing, like this one on Cheena in Meyerland:

5043Cheena-AllenRWilliams.jpg?t=1238952442

Both of these Meyerland houses and also a demolished one on Imogene, were designed as spec homes for the builder Roy Harris.

Williams designed one very Wright inspired house at 11214 Hermosa, built 1962. Original clients listed as Hegenbarth. This house has been featured one at least one tour, and is often attributed to Karl Kamrath, but it is, in fact, an Allen Williams design.

One of William's designs has been published in Atomic Ranch. It was restored by architect and Houston Mod founder Ben Koush.

Other architects who either practiced or dabbled with Wrightian/organic design in Houston (in no particular order):

Howard Barnstone - Barnstone's Bloxsom house, one of his first commissions that formerly stood at 22 E. Shady Lane (1952), was based on one of Wright's Solar Hemicycle designs. Apparently, MacKie & Kamrath were also being considered for this commission, as there are drawings in their archives for the same client at the same time, but no address.

Preston Bolton - Finkelstein House - while in partnership with Howard Barnstone, Bolton was tapped to design the Finkelstein house at 307 W. Friar Tuck. Barnstone had originally presented a very uncompromising, Miesian design that cantilevered out over the ravine on the propert, but his proposal was rejected by the clients for being "too cold". The client, Carol Sue Finkelstein, had seen a Wright house in a magazine and told Bolton that this was the style she wanted for her house. Having worked for MacKie & Kamrath in his early years (and incidentally, Kenneth Franzheim, Irving R. Klein and Birdsall P. Briscoe) Bolton was well equipped to provide a pleasing design. It was approved, and the house was finished in the early 1960's. It is very large and is terraced in the back to work with the ravine. It also has a pitched roof and is made largely of stone, very uncommon for Bolton & Barnstone's work. The house still exists, but is difficult to see from the street. I have been in touch with Ms. Finkelstein who has the original photographs taken by Balthazar Koreb. I am working to obtain copies of these and they will hopefully be posted on Houston Mod's updated website.

Alden B. Dow - Charles Reed Residence at 111 Carnarvon (altered). Dow, who was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most talented and successful apprentices, also planned and designed most of Lake Jackson,TX. MacKie & Kamrath were the project architects of record; they also managed most of Dow’s work in Lake Jackson, which included many private residences and public buildings. The Alden B. Dow foundation has the original photos by Balthazar Koreb. The house appears to be an oversized rancher, but the interior is in fact very Wrightian, or was in its early days.

William Norman Floyd – Stuckey House – 705 Kuhlman Road (demolished). Everything you could ever want to know about William Norman Floyd is here:

http://memorialbendarchitecture.com

The Stuckey House is here:

http://memorialbendarchitecture.com/floyd_hcart6.jpg

O'neil Ford (Ford, Colley & Taminga) - Garth House - 63 Briar Hollow Lane (demolished)

A picture of this house is in the 2002 Houston Architecture Guide. Probably one of Houston's great, lost modern homes in a lost modern neighborhood.

Lenard Gabert

3401 North MacGregor Way - 1956 - w/ W. Jackson Wisdom

_DSC0293.jpg?t=1238948321

Bruce Goff - Robert Durst House - 323 Tynebrook - 1958 Office of Joseph Krakower, associate architects.

dursthousehill.jpg

Goff's only built project in Houston (he designed another house that was to have been built in Hunterwood), the Durst house is unique, to say the least. It's design has, however, been praised over the years as an excellent response to it's cul-de-sac location. The Dursts did not live in the house very long; it was sold in the 1960's and again in the 1970's to it's current owners, the Gee family. Mrs. Gee commissioned Goff to design an addition (the tower-like bedroom on the right side of the house) in the early 80's, just prior to his death. This house is featured in the book Great Houses of Texas by Lisa Germany. Germany writes extensively about the construction of that renovation, and the book includes many interior photos that are well worth the price.

A house for Dr. Shirley Bowen by Wylie Vale stood next door at 322 Tynebrook until 2002 or 2003. Next door to that is a home based on Oscar De La Renta's Balinese House, which is currently on the market.

Dr. Davey Lieb

Lieb House - 311 Hunters Trail - 1972. I will post more about this house as I learn it.

Dr.jpg?t=1236226425

David D. Red

Lieutenant Commander David Red was a professor at the University of Houston College of Architecture until 1978, when he started BSA Architects with one of his former students. However, his work as an independent architect prior to BSA is most relevant to this post. Those who knew him always talk about going to his house at 1802 Sunset Blvd. to watch him mow his roof. At the time, many people thought having a sod roof was a goofy idea and dismissed it as a curious novelty. The roof itself didn't last very long, but the memory did; green roofs are now getting more attention due the demand for more sustainable approaches to insulation. Mr. Red had many unique ideas about architecture and most of them are expressed in his two known organic projects: his own house on Sunset, and the Kelvin Design Group Studio at 4916 Kelvin Dr.

David Red - Kelvin Design Studio - 1960

The second story is a later addition.

396813989_20cd7cd406_b.jpg

384344699_44972effd1_b.jpg

Special thanks to James Glass for letting me roam around taking pictures.

David Red - Red House - 1958

redlarcol.JPG

Photo by Jason Smith

Mr. Red's obituary is here

Mike G. Vergas

Vergas House - 4421 Simsbrook Drive - 1962

Eugene Werlin

2333 Underwood Blvd. - 1950

Walter J. Fondren House - 3940 Inverness - 1957 (altered).

This house is not visible from the street, but this Houston Chronicle article by Madeleine McDermott Hamm has a detailed description of it:

http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive....id=1994_1184057

This house has one of the largest residential swimming pools in Houston.

Bailey Swenson Swenson's fusion of the organic and "contemporary" is covered at length in Kaliski's article. With multiple commissions and willing clients, Swenson found Riverside Terrace fertile ground on which to experiment with organic architecture. I’m only going to list his designs because I do not have photos for them at the moment. They are in different states of maintenance; for example, the Leon Green house at 3819 South MacGregor Way, which Fox calls "one of Swenson’s best houses”, is in such wretched shape that demolition would probably be merciful. A horribly botched renovation was undertaken at some point, but a few traces of its original design are still visible.

Designs by Bailey Swenson or Swenson & Linnstaedter:

3417 Charleston Street – 1950

3403 Charleston Street – 1952 – One of many houses for the Proler family. Influenced by the Prairie style.

3819 South Macgregor Way – Leon Green House

DSC_0005.jpg?t=1235509382

Swenson's house for Leon Green was simply wild. What remains of the original design can be seen from the back of the house, which is two stories of floor-to-ceiling glass with a circular glass room attached. Most of this was made into square rooms during the renovation.

4505 North Roseneath

4505NorthRoseneath.jpg?t=1238948255

This house is in Galveston, but it is nearly identical to the house at 4505 North Roseneath. It serves as a good, well-preserved example of Swenson's work:

DSC_0168copy.jpg?t=1235577594

Frank Lloyd Wright – William L. Thaxton House - 12020 Tall Oaks

ThaxtonHouse2.jpg?t=1245695700

This house was built in 1954 for a successful insurance agent named William Thaxton and his family. It was one of the first houses to be built in that part of Memorial, as Thaxton was hoping to start a subdivision. Thaxton bought a large rectangular lot and hired Wright to design his home, feeling that if an architect with a big name designed his house, it would attract other potential residents that would follow suit.

The house that Wright designed for Thaxton was small compared to the mansions that now surround it, and had no right angles. It was constructed of concrete block, steel, redwood, glass and concrete dyed red. The house divides the lot diagonally, which provides the owner with plenty of privacy.

When the current owners bought the house in 1991, it had been severely neglected; the beautiful knot-less redwood ceiling had had six coats of paint, the roof was leaking and some of the exterior doors had rotted away to the point that the interior was exposed to the elements. In 1995, the owners completed an extensive restoration that was essentially a ground-up rebuild, with a few original parts of the house still in tact. Everything was done according to Wright's original drawings. Most of what has been written about this house in CITE Magazine and in the Houston Architectural Guide was written before the restoration. It is time to have another look. I will post more photos when and if I am able.

At the time, the current owners had more children than the house could adequately handle, so a large addition was designed by a team at Kirksey Architects headed up by Robert Inaba. They used the Secretary of Interiors Standards for Rehabilitation as guidelines for planning, along with Wright's original drawings to restore the main house.

Article about the Thaxton House from the New York Times, pre-restoration:

http://www.nytimes.com/1991/04/21/us/houst...e-a-future.html

As I stated at the beginning, this post is by no means finished, but I do want to thank Jersey01 for starting this topic and subsequently touching off something that needed to be done. Also, Lauren Meyers (sevfiv), Russell Howard, Jason Smith, Monica Savino, Ben Koush, Steve Curry, Don Emmitte, Jeff Horning, Mark Schatz, Anne Eamon and everyone else in Houston Mod for all of their help (directly or indirectly). Also to S. Reagan Miller for chosing MacKie & Kamrath as his thesis topic. Stephen Fox, Muriel Folloder-Philips, Robert and Mary Bowles, Robert Bowlby, Herb Greene, Rae Krakower, Wylie and Eileen Vale, Preston and Pauline Bolton, The Ballantyne's, Chris Carson, Penny Jones, Carol Sue Finkelstein, Jeff Carowitz for his knowledge of many things Wright, Dow and Kamrath (and for buying a Kamrath to restore), Jack Kamrath for returning my call, Christina Hattenbach of Harrison Kornberg Architects and anyone else I may have forgot to thank. Enjoy, and feel free to contact me via private message if you know of anything else that should be included or have any information concerning a building listed here or otherwise. I've left out most of the work by Bailey Swenson, Eugene Werlin and Lenard Gabert, to name a few, but I hope to remedy that as soon as I can get pictures and more biographical information.

Edited by BenH
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you, Ben!!! This document really pulls it all together! WOW! I didn't expect to find this today.

I just came across the ad for this apartment complex when I was researching at Rice in the microforms. If you're driving down Richmond, it's worth a trip down Cummins just to see the place. If you have a good imagination and squint, you can envision what once was. Jenkins (or at least his firm) designed the apartments down the street, and there are lots of other small mod buildings around that area to see.

I didn't read closely enough to note if you mentioned it, but Cite Magazine had a good article way back on Houston Organic Architects, and there's something in the Cite Book, but this is even more thorough. I made a copy and can find it in my files.

Jason

The Triton 101 Apartments

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't read closely enough to note if you mentioned it, but Cite Magazine had a good article way back on Houston Organic Architects, and there's something in the Cite Book, but this is even more thorough. I made a copy and can find it in my files.

Jason

Yes, that's John Kaliski's article, which I based the post on. That guy did a LOT of work. He lives in Los Angeles now, and I tried to get in touch with him to ask for his help with this, but got no response. Hopefully I haven't pissed him or the people at CITE off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ben, I am speechless. This kind of freely shared information, carefully presented and lovingly illustrated, lives up to the best and highest aspirations for the Internet. Bravo one hundred times, my friend. I am going to color-print this and put it on the shelf with my architecture books.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love the architecture from that era, thanks.

On another note, one house is list at the Robert Durst House. Is that THE Robert Durst of Galveston dismemberment fame?

Funny you ask; that photo is posted on Flickr and someone else asked the same question. As far as I know, it is not the same Robert Durst. Besides, the Gees have lived in that house longer than both previous owners combined...I'd say it's more theirs than anyones.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Robert Durst: different generation, no? I actually wouldn't be surprised if it's the same family. But I would like to be wrong.

Edit: never mind. The Galveston murder Durst was from New York and grew up on Long Island. No evidence of a connection to the Houston family.

Edited by marmer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

About the Triton 101: historicaerials.com shows it clearly under construction in 1964, what appears to be the "finned" roofline in 1973, and it's not clear but it looks like a remodeling (would that be de-"fin"-istration?) has happened by 1981.

Now that was a strange building. Just goes to show there's always something weirder out there. ;-)

I've seen that same kind of "lizard-scale" shingle/siding on a fairly conventional two story house in the Mandell/Alabama area. I'll look again next time I am over that way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK, dudes. I just looked up historicalaerials.com. I'd never heard of it until recently. I am officially addicted. There's a place on Stella Link called The Positive Image where I bought a print of a photo of Willowbend in 1959 that is a great resource for this kind of thing, but involves a lot of digging and help from the owners there, where this you can just browse. Thanks for the link!

Jason

About the Triton 101: historicaerials.com shows it clearly under construction in 1964, what appears to be the "finned" roofline in 1973, and it's not clear but it looks like a remodeling (would that be de-"fin"-istration?) has happened by 1981.

Now that was a strange building. Just goes to show there's always something weirder out there. ;-)

I've seen that same kind of "lizard-scale" shingle/siding on a fairly conventional two story house in the Mandell/Alabama area. I'll look again next time I am over that way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've seen that same kind of "lizard-scale" shingle/siding on a fairly conventional two story house in the Mandell/Alabama area. I'll look again next time I am over that way.

I think I know the house you're writing about - when I was at Wilshire Village last week, it was across Alabama. I'll post pictures soon (if I can find them!).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I know the house you're writing about - when I was at Wilshire Village last week, it was across Alabama. I'll post pictures soon (if I can find them!).

Sev, you are correct. It is 1700 Alabama, across from Wilshire Village. It appears to belong to a religious order associated with the University of St. Thomas. Built in 1925, according to HCAD.

The wavy siding stuff is reminiscent of the Moss houses, but I sent BenH a quick and dirty photo I took last week and we both agree it is probably not a Moss house -- too "normal." It is the only application I've ever seen like that on a "traditional" house. It is on the walls - definitely not the roof.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...
  • 1 year later...

Referring to post #12 by BenH, did anyone find out any more information on the Dr. Davey Lieb house (round, "c" shaped house) at 311 Hunter'sTrail? Very unusual, have to view the aerial to appreciate it's uniqueness. Looks like it could be prone to flood issues. Would like to see the interior of that one. Reminds me of John Lautner's work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Referring to post #12 by BenH, did anyone find out any more information on the Dr. Davey Lieb house (round, "c" shaped house) at 311 Hunter'sTrail? Very unusual, have to view the aerial to appreciate it's uniqueness. Looks like it could be prone to flood issues. Would like to see the interior of that one. Reminds me of John Lautner's work.

Willowisp has seen the inside of the house, so he can probably tell you more about it. I want to say it has 12 bedrooms total, six in each wing, and it is supposed to look like a certain type of flower from the air. I believe it was damaged during Ike, but has since been repaired to some extent.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Bruce Goff designed this INCREDIBLE organic home in Dallas.

Organic modern is a topic often overlooked in our city with the majority of our modernism being that of the Miesian type.

I know of some of the obvious, such as the Bruce Goff Durst House here in Houston and the now demolished Mitchell House by Kamrath, but what do we have left that is as big of a statement as the Dallas home?

I thought I would chime in on the house on Baxtershire which was originally mentioned in this thread. Preservation Dallas has stated that there is no definitive proof that it was designed by Bruce Goff. I think most people do attribute it to him but some say it may have been designed by a Goff protege or even someone not related to Goff. The house changed hands recently and some of the deferred maintenance has been repaired. I'm not sure about the interior but the exterior dome over the motor court was removed last fall and some of the beams were replaced. Even without the dome it's still a very beautiful house and really stands out in the neighborhood. We live about a block away and I always hear positive comments whenever we have friends over about what a unique home it is (even from people who are not necessarily appreciative of mid century style architecture).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Article by Lisa Gray from the Chronicle about Mike Vergas' house and life. Turns out he actually studied with Wright at Taliesin:

http://www.chron.com/life/article/Gray-Mending-the-house-that-love-built-3831547.php?t=4bc8945d9c

Article that ran a few months back about John S. Chase:

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-deaths/article/Architect-John-Chase-a-Houston-pioneer-dies-3450278.php

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...

Bruce Goff designed this INCREDIBLE organic home in Dallas.

Organic modern is a topic often overlooked in our city with the majority of our modernism being that of the Miesian type.

I know of some of the obvious, such as the Bruce Goff Durst House here in Houston and the now demolished Mitchell House by Kamrath, but what do we have left that is as big of a statement as the Dallas home?

 

Turns out Bruce Goff did not design this house. According to an advertisement in Texas Architect back in the 1960's for a product called Stran-Steel, the architect was named John E. Parnell, with a designer named Bob Miller. General contractor was Elmore M. Klenk & Son, and Stran-Steel dealer was Blue Diamond Company. The ad shows the house under construction, and a model of it. Lists the client as Eddie Parker, which if you Google "Dallas" and "Round House", will show you that it's the same house. Now to find out who these guys were. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://communities.aia.org/sites/hdoaa/wiki/Wiki%20Pages/Browse%20Pa.aspx

 

The closest names who were ever members of the AIA are Victor E. Pannell (Louisiana/Texas) or James B. Pannell of Montana.  No Parnell is recorded.  This doesn't mean he had no architectural education, but I'd be interested to know whether this house was at the start or at the end of his career.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, it looks like Goff may have designed the house but never intended to build it. According to this article, Parker got the plans from Goff, then must have hired Parnell to build the thing:

http://prestonhollow.advocatemag.com/2003/03/01/the-round-house/

From what I remember, this house isn't in Preston Hollow, either. Janel, do you live in Preston Hollow? Is your house on a four acre lot?  <_<

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, it looks like Goff may have designed the house but never intended to build it. According to this article, Parker got the plans from Goff, then must have hired Parnell to build the thing:

http://prestonhollow.advocatemag.com/2003/03/01/the-round-house/

From what I remember, this house isn't in Preston Hollow, either. Janel, do you live in Preston Hollow? Is your house on a four acre lot?  <_<

 

hahaha. No. Our lot as well as most lots in Jan Mar Circle are around 1/2 acre.  It's near Preston Hollow but not PH proper. 

 

While 4 acres sounds nice our summer water bill is already outrageous. I don't need more grass than what I already have. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

I would like to make a small clarification re: the original owners of the Goff - Durst house on Tynewood.

Robert and Dan Durst were the sons of Gordon and Lucille Durst.

Gordon and Lucille Durst were the original owners.

They were good friends with my parents and we visited them in that house several times.

I was between 5 and 10 yrs. old.

I thought it was the most Awesome thing I'd ever seen !

 

It is possible that for some reason Gordon and Lucille put that house in Robert's name from the beginning (if Gordon and Lucille's names aren't on any records as owners), but I think that would have been very odd.

The couple were a conventional, conservative pair and they later moved (I think) to Tanglewood...I'm not sure...but  

the Tynewood house was a Lot of house for them.

 

*

I grew up on South Braeswood and when I was 13, we moved to Hunter's Creek, on Shartle Circle.

 

And No, the Robert Durst who was the criminal in the news was not the same person.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...