Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is this the Wright direction?

My sincerest apologies for my cheesy post title.

This afternoon, after extensive Google mapping, I road tripped to two FLW houses.

The first was the J.A. Sweeton House in Cherry Hill, NJ. Designed in 1950, it's the smallest of the four FLW
houses in Jersey. I entered the coordinates into my GPS and found a neighborhood that I could totally picture a FLW house in. One small problem: there was no FLW house. The location my GPS was telling me wasn't actually a house. It was an empty patch of highway. After driving around for a while, I tried to find a place with free wifi so I could recheck the coordinates and maybe find an actual address. Searching for wifi took roughly 45 minutes. Then I texted my friend Keri and asked her to google the address for me. It was the address that corresponded with the coordinates, so my immediate thought was that the privacy-crazed owners changed the address to prevent amateur architecture enthusiasts from snapping photos from behind their bushes. But I gave it one more try. The building located at the address was an office complex. *sigh* Exasperated, I pull into the parking lot and--lo and behold!--hidden behind the parking lot and a sketchy barrier of vines and bushes is the unmistakeable profile of a FLW:

I wanted to get more/better photos, but as you can see there was a car in the carport. And a dog at the front door. I wonder about the color scheme for this house; FLW was all about celebrating nature by making his buildings blend into his surroundings. What would inspire the mustard yellow? I hope that some well-intentioned resident (who doesn't appreciate FLW at all, but it's okay because I'm sure they don't know better and we can always change it back) painted it along the way? Then again, I also have no idea what the natural surroundings even were when FLW designed the house. There could have been buttercups and daffodils everywhere instead of a dentist's office.

After ten minutes with J.A. Sweeton, it's on to Wilmington to check out the only FLW building in the state: the Dudley Spencer House, known to FLW as Laurel. My GPS leads me to a road with lots of builidngs FLW would never design, but I still have a good feeling. Until I drive by twice and don't see anything. Sometimes his preoccupation with blending his buildings into the landscape is problematic. It isn't until my third driveby that I notice a multi-level stone house hiding behind a thicket of trees. The only problem is it's a busy road and I need to find someplace to park so I can walk over to the house. This is what I found directly across the street:

This was a house built in 1856 for Joseph Shipley, a British merchant banker. Basically the opposite of a FLW. It's a huge park, and when I got there around sunset there were tons of families wandering around. As I pulled my GPS out to find a walkway to the FLW house, I passed by a family with two toddlers who were also wandering around with a GPS. One of their kids cried out that I had "one of those boxes" too, and I asked if they were also looking for the FLW house. "No, we're geocaching," said the dad. "There's a FLW house around here?!" So I told them where the house was and they told me where to find the crosswalk and I stumbled onto the property as it was getting dark. Thus, my photos suck. Like the Sweeton house, this had a carport. Mad props to FLW for somehow creating non-tacky carports. I never thought it was possible. Once again people were home so I had to stay way far away from the house itself, which definitely didn't help the already dark pictures. But, just for the hell of it, here's my photo of the carport:

I am so envious of people who live in FLW houses. And, although I completely understand their desire for privacy, I am a little resentful of my inability to circle the houses at close range for fear of arrest. But if anyone ever needs a gift idea for me, it's sitting on Shipley Road in Wilmington.

No comments:

Post a Comment