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Modernist Architects Arthur Fehr and Charles Granger

It was as though both Arthur Fehr and Charles Granger were sent here in 1946 from the future on a time travel mission to make their impact on the industry of architecture and design! Although they were two separate men walking their path of education and experience in the same industry, it wasn’t until 1946 when they became partners and established Fehr & Granger (F&G) in Austin, Texas that they experienced great success.

Their designs would captivate many and move the industry into the era of mid-century modernism. Post-World War ll was a time for new economic growth and opportunities, which helped pave the way for modern (or more commonly known as modernist architecture). Modernist architecture followed the belief that “form should follow function.” This style of architecture also gave birth to new innovative construction and use of glass, steel, and reinforced concrete as building materials of choice.

Fehr & Granger labeled themselves as Austin modernists, and rightfully so as they were instrumental in designing some of the most important buildings in and around Austin, staying with their progressive, modernist style. Some of their most notable accomplishments in both residential and commercial architecture include:

  • Sneed Residence in Austin (circa 1953)
  • O. Henry Junior High School Austin (1954)
  • Saint Stephen’s Chapel Austin (1955) 
  • Clifton Hall at Texas Lutheran College in Seguin (1956)
  • Robert Mueller Airport (1959)
  • Austin National Bank (1961)

Charles Granger died in a car accident in 1966, so Arthur Fehr held down the fort at F&G until his death in 1969.

The firm of F&G received many awards over the years for their designs, including two separate awards for their design of the Robert Mueller Airport, in 1959 and in 1961. 

Charles also built the Granger House and The Perch, a pair of historic homes in Austin, in 1951. Both homes were both recorded on the National Register of Historic Places. Not bad for a modernist. 

 

Haas Lilienthal House San Francisco

San Francisco Haas-Lilienthal House Tells a True Story

The beautiful intact Victorian house that bears the name of the Haas-Lilienthal House in San Francisco is a protected historical site. Located on Franklin Street, the Haas-Lilienthal House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) which is dedicated to the preservation of anything, including structures and buildings that are worthy of historical significance. The Haas-Lilienthal House was originally built in 1886 and survived the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 with very little damage.

It was evident that the Haas-Lilienthal House had earned the right to be the storyteller and historian of this great era gone by. With preservation as their goal, the children and the descendants of the Haas and Lilienthal families donated the house to the San Francisco Heritage, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to educating as well as delighting people about the city’s architectural legacy. 

The architectural style of the Haas-Lilienthal House is Queen Anne style, which represents the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714), but because of the years in effect this was a revival of that era, which was popular during the last quarter of the 19th century and early decades of the 20th century. The designer of the Haas-Lilienthal House was architect Peter R. Schmidt. 

In 1972 the Haas-Lilienthal House opened its doors as a museum and held tours for the public. This is a one of a kind type of situation because while the tours and education about the history behind the architecture of this era is awe-inspiring, the authentic furniture and artifacts have some interesting tales of their own. They tell a quiet story that is visually taken in and can be felt through your heart, and that’s priceless.

Currently, this venue allows you to go back in time by providing an immersed experience. Learn more about the Haas-Lilienthal House.

 

route 66 adventure travel

Route 66: Part History, Mostly Romance

To hear someone mention Route 66, your mind automatically goes to a place that starts in Chicago, Illinois, then goes through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before it ends at the corner of Olympic and Lincoln boulevards in Santa Monica, California. 

Route 66 exemplifies Americana at its best, and an era that was somewhere in time. Route 66 covers a total of 2,448 miles in its entirety. Beginning in 1916, the legislation for a public highway started named the Federal Highway Act. Revisions began in 1921 and continued until 1925, when the government created a plan for a national highway to be constructed.

From 1933 to 1938, thousands of unemployed young males from surrounding states were put to work as laborers on road gangs to pave the final stretches of land that needed to be the extended highway. Route 66 helped us mobilize our manpower. 

As time went on, urban culture began to lay down its foundation that would contribute to the mystery and romance of this historical highway. Gas stations, cafes, and small general type stores popped up, providing an attentive audience for the popular highway.

By the end of the war, roadway travel along Route 66 was at its heyday. The roadside architecture represented the region that happened to be in that particular section of the highway. The material used to build the food stands, gas stations and motels included brick, wood, and stucco; many used canopies to cover the seating areas. This all added to the character of the different sections.

As time went on, Route 66 underwent many improvements and realignments to extend its usefulness and appeal. Then in 1985, Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System. However, some states have adopted significant sections of the former highway into their state road networks. These sections are called Historic Route 66 and are alternate routes, but maintain much of that allure. 

Today you can still see the cocoons of what’s left of roadside motels, gas stations, and tourist-type attractions. If you truly believe, you might see a 1962 Corvette Convertible drive by and disappear into the romance of Route 66.

To hear someone mention Route 66, your mind automatically goes to a place that starts in Chicago, Illinois, then goes through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before it ends at the corner of Olympic and Lincoln boulevards in Santa Monica, California. 

Route 66 exemplifies Americana at its best, and an era that was somewhere in time. Route 66 covers a total of 2,448 miles in its entirety. Beginning in 1916, the legislation for a public highway started named the Federal Highway Act. Revisions began in 1921 and continued until 1925, when the government created a plan for a national highway to be constructed.

From 1933 to 1938, thousands of unemployed young males from surrounding states were put to work as laborers on road gangs to pave the final stretches of land that needed to be the extended highway. Route 66 helped us mobilize our manpower. 

As time went on, urban culture began to lay down its foundation that would contribute to the mystery and romance of this historical highway. Gas stations, cafes, and small general type stores popped up, providing an attentive audience for the popular highway.

By the end of the war, roadway travel along the romantic highway was at its heyday. The roadside architecture represented the region that happened to be in that particular section of the highway. The material used to build the food stands, gas stations and motels included brick, wood, and stucco; many used canopies to cover the seating areas. This all added to the character of the different sections.

As time went on, the iconic roadway underwent many improvements and realignments to extend its usefulness and appeal. Then in 1985, it was officially removed from the United States Highway System. However, some states have adopted significant sections of the former highway into their state road networks. These sections are called Historic Route 66 and are alternate routes, but maintain much of that allure. 

Today you can still see the cocoons of what’s left of roadside motels, gas stations, and tourist-type attractions. If you truly believe, you might see a 1962 Corvette Convertible drive by and disappear into the romance of Route 66.

 

Hearst Castle Exterior, San Simeon California

The Mysteries of Hearst Castle

Once upon a time, there was a man named William Randolph Hearst. He was a famous American newspaper publisher and business tycoon. He lived in a castle on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean in San Simeon.

The vision of Hearst Castle was the brainchild of William Randolph Hearst himself, but the genius who made it all happen was American architect and engineer, Julia Morgan. Julia was ahead of her time; her prolific career happened in a male-dominated industry during a time in our history where women were thought of as “keepers of the castle.” Well, Julia was building them! Julia designed over 700 buildings, and her most famous accomplishment was Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California.

One more note on this award-winning architect: she pioneered the aesthetic use of reinforced concrete that has proven to hold up to seismic movements that happen during strong earthquakes. She died in 1957 at the age of 85. 

William Randolph Hearst lived in the castle from 1919 to 1947, and like any other homeowner with an expendable income, construction on the property continued all the way until right before his death. He was forced to move out in 1947 because of his failing health. He died in 1951.

An interesting unknown detail is that at the time Hearst vacated the estate, it had remained unfinished. This was due to his constant design changes, so Hearst never got to really enjoy and see the entire castle in the state of completion. Although by the time he left the castle, it had contained 165 rooms and the square footage was well over 90,000 square feet. There were also 123 acres of gardens, so he did get to enjoy some of the fruits of his imagination.

As part of the process, Hearst would travel to Europe and see the ceilings from churches and monasteries. When he would see one he liked, he would have it disassembled in Europe and later reassembled in California.

Back in its heyday, Hearst Castle entertained the very elite, from Hollywood royalty to notable politicians. Hearst the man wanted to impress the unattainable, and that he did…and his castle still does today. Currently people come from all over the world to enjoy tours given at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

ADG Lighting was a past licensee of the Hearst Castle Collection of Decorative Lighting & Iron. Check out the atelier chrome fixtures and lamps that formerly sat at the Hearst estate.

 

mardakan castle

Mardakan Castle Is Set to Be Revamped

The restoration of the Mardakan Castle was recently signed and agreed upon between the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and the State Service of Cultural Heritage Conservation, Development and Rehabilitation, under the Azerbaijani Culture Ministry. The latter is in charge of the protocols on the restoration.

The Mardakan Castle was originally built in the middle of the 12th century by Akhsitan I, son of Manuchihr III. At that time the castles and fortresses were built to protect against the enemy. So the previous life lived by the Mardakan Castle was rich and full, and now it’s time for a facelift.

The castle was originally built in a quadrangular form, has five tiers, and the entire castle consists of six rooms. There is an inner courtyard that is huge, 28x25m, followed by a round tower that is 22 meters in height, and contains 76 stairs inside the tower. It has been suggested that as many as 108 empty wells that are located in the courtyard were used to store food. Let’s not forget the moat located in front of the castle! This body of water is said to be 25 meters in depth. These details don’t take into account the richness in heritage and culture of that medieval era. 

It’s all about location location location! This motto used in current real estate also played a part during the medieval era. These fortresses were placed in specific locations to defend vital routes against the enemy. 

In Azerbaijan there are many castles and fortresses that primarily functioned as fortresses; some of these include the Gulistan Fortress, Sabayil Castle and Ramana Tower just to name a few. Their similarities were also their differences — each contains the strong rich architecture of the medieval era, each is different in specific detail. It is obvious all stood the test of time.   

Azerbaijan is an ancient country, it’s history is rich in culture and its architecture reflects that. This restoration is important, and the end result will be fascinating.

 

r lee miller architect

Privacy on a High Level in Homes Built by R. Lee Miller

Hidden in plain sight along a hillside in Palm Springs are rock dwellings otherwise known as Araby Rock Houses, created and built by organic architect R. Lee Miller. Miller liked to build in very difficult places, such as on the side of a mountain. His unique and well-designed structures were remarkable.

Miller built his unique homes in certain secret locations, such as the private community of the Andreas Canyon Club, founded in 1923. These are the “Where’s Waldo” of houses because they are camouflaged by their own surroundings. Miller went on to purchase 330 acres, just above Ramon Road with the intention of building another hillside community there; unfortunately, that plan never came to fruition.  

We know very little about R. Lee Miller. It seems that his architectural creations were a true representation of himself; he hid in plain sight.

Here is what we do know. Robert Lee Miller was born in Hill, Texas in the year 1887. He went on to serve his country in World War I. After he served his country, he trained as a civil engineer; after moving to Palm Springs, Miller took up carpentry and built many homes in the Palm Springs area, including a home for the president of US Steel. Miller also built an adobe and rock home next to the present day Moorten Botanical Garden for actor Reginald Owen. 

The irony is that despite Miller’s prolific work in building homes, he had not had any formal training in architecture. It’s as though he came out of nowhere, created and then just disappeared in plain sight, very much like the houses he built. You can learn more interesting information on early Palm Springs architects by visiting the city of Palm Springs website

From the Factory Floor

Work in progress

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting