Thursday, July 18, 2013

FL Wright, Richland Center WI and the AD German Warehouse

I was recently in Richland Center, WI a small town that happens to be the birthplace of Frank Lloyd Wright. There is one building designed by Wright in town, known as the A.D. German Warehouse
A website devoted to the building calls it “ one of few surviving examples from his most creative period (1911-1924), and considered his first definitive use of the so-called “Mayan Revival” motif".

The warehouse was designed in 1915 for a local commodity wholesaler, Albert Dell German with construction started in 1917. By 1921, construction had halted; many of the interior details, in addition to the front entrance remained unfinished
While visiting the building, I was shocked to see a sign indicating that the building was for sale and learned that the building was owned by a private investor who passed away leaving the property as part of his estate. The Richland Chamber and Development Alliance is seeking a buyer with the long-term goal of helping to raise funds for public or public/private ownership of the building and for restoration.
The site is not far from Taliesin, Wrights Wisconsin home and compound. It certainly seems a project worthy of investment and its odd to see this building sitting empty and in need of significant restoration.
I was completely delighted by the building and happy to be able to study it closely and focus on design details. I visited the building with a teaching colleague and had a lively discussion with my colleague about how “important” buildings should be cared for  --or not. My colleague had the point of view that such monuments may be useless and dangerous and we should not fear the wrecking ball in such cases. I, on the other hand, believe that restoring and maintaining such buildings is useful for current and future generations. Seeing the patterns in the brick and the oversized Mayan-inspired details made my heart sing and I do hope something can be done to preserve this gem and indeed to make it useful once again.
There is a FaceBook page for the building:

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