Frank Lloyd Wright’s office moves to Hagen History Center in Erie
Frank Lloyd Wright’s San Francisco office moved to Erie.
The office was recently on display in Pittsburgh and has been reassembled and rebuilt at the Hagen History Center at 356 W. Sixth St., where it will be on permanent display from July 17, when the complex reopens.
Details of the new exhibit were announced by the Hagen History Center during a Facebook Live event Tuesday, the birthday of the famous architect.
“This (office) is exactly like it was over 60 years ago. When visitors walk in, they will feel like they are entering the office when the staff are out for lunch, ”said George Deutsch, executive director of the Erie County Historical Society-Hagen History Center.
There are coffee stains on the fabric covering the simple wooden counter that Wright used as a desk in his private office. The interior office is framed in glass, wood shutters, and energy-efficient lights that replicate Wright’s original incandescent lights. The original ceiling is textured glass and wood.
The windows in the field office are covered with photographic film that represents the actual view Wright is said to have seen in San Francisco. The 1,000-foot exhibit space in the new Hagen History Center exhibit building was designed specifically for Wright’s office.
Wright’s main studios were located at his home in Taliesin in Wisconsin and Taliesin West Arizona. He worked in his San Francisco office with business partner Aaron Green to design San Francisco Bay Area projects from 1951 until his death in 1959.
Green continued to use the office for a few years after Wright’s death. The office was then moved to the Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, where it was displayed behind glass.
The desk was purchased by Jim Sandoro, who planned to reassemble it in his Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow museum. Instead, Sandaro chose to recreate a Wright-designed gas station and sold the office to Hagen History Center benefactor Tom Hagen. His exhibition in Erie has been planned for almost five years.
The exhibition ‘will certainly be attractive to tourists’
Wright’s office will be added to the list of Frank Lloyd Wright sites open to the public during the opening of the Erie exhibition. Visitors will be able to walk around the office.
The exhibit will attract tourists interested in Wright’s work, said Jeff Goodman, vice president of communications and partnerships for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
“We are delighted to welcome our friends from Erie to the Frank Lloyd Wright family, and we anticipate that the city’s proximity to properties in Ohio, New York and the Pittsburgh area will certainly be appealing to residents. tourists, ”Goodman said.
Deutsch hopes to create a Frank Lloyd Wright Trail between Wright-designed structures in Buffalo, New York, and southwestern Pennsylvania.
“We’re just starting to talk to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation about it,” he said.
Similar trails in other parts of the country attract as many as 180,000 visitors each year, Deutsch said.
“Our goal is for it to be a national attraction, with Erie as kind of a hub of the trail,” he said.
Wright-designed properties in the tri-state area include Waterfall, located in Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania. Wright was commissioned to design the iconic home by Edgar Kaufmann of the Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann Department Store in 1935.
Other structures designed by Wright and open to the public include Kentuck button, also in Fayette County, and the Duncan House, in Westmoreland County, and the Darwin Martin House, The Fontana boathouse and Blue Sky Mausoleum, all in Buffalo, New York.
“A personal tour of a Wright building can be a life-changing experience for visitors, and we are delighted that people are able to walk through the San Francisco office for the first time,” said Goodman.
Jeff Kidder, of Kidder Architects, Erie, was the office’s exhibit curator. Mike Jefferys, of Kidder Jefferys Construction LLC, led the installation team.
“It’s the only thing he designed for himself in California,” Kidder said of Wright’s San Francisco office. “It was located on the second floor of a four-story building, and visitors will experience that feeling as soon as they enter the exhibit.”
The Wright car, the bridge model will also be displayed
Wright’s 1930 Cord L-29 convertible and a 17-foot model of his Butterfly Bridge, designed to link San Francisco to Oakland, will be on display for a limited time in conjunction with the exhibit. The butterfly-shaped bridge was never built. The model made an appearance in the movie “Die Hard”.
The car is on loan to the Hagen History Center until October. The bridge model is on loan for at least a year, Deutsch said.
The History Center is planning several interactive discussions regarding Wright’s architecture with national and local speakers in the coming months. Visitors will be able to visit the campus for free during the opening weekend of July 17 and 18.
Scheduled guided tours of Wright’s office will be offered after opening weekend.
Other exhibits feature Perry, Extension Canal
The new two-story, 6,000-square-foot exhibition building housing Wright’s office is part of an $ 11 million investment in the Hagen History Center over the past three years. The center also includes the Watson-Curtze mansion, built in 1892; the Wood-Morrison House, built in 1858; a discount; and a 10,000 square foot archives building.
Watson-Curtze Mansion was open to the public on a limited basis from July through November. It had been closed since March 2020 due to closure orders related to COVID-19.
Other exhibits at the Hagen History Center when it reopens this year will include:
- Erie Extension Canal, which connected the Great Lakes to the Ohio River near Pittsburgh in the 1800s;
- Oliver Hazard Perry, including his sword, telescope, bust, and other related artifacts;
- Watson-Curtze Mansion, including Winifred Watson’s recreated childhood bedroom and the maids’ quarters opened for the first time;
- Griswold cast iron cookware on display in the kitchen at Watson-Curtze Mansion;
- the historic buildings of Erie, including an interactive screen that shows more than 1,000 houses dating back 75 years and a Minecraft game that will allow children to build their own houses;
- Veterans of the Erie region, in the Wood-Morrison house.
For more information visit eriehistory.org.