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Architecture Monday

July 16, 2018

When I visited the Ennis house a few years ago, it was only for a drive by.  Being a privately-owned house, seeing the inside, and the results of the renovation being undertaken, was not possible.  UNTIL NOW… for it is up for sale!  And with that comes a real estate listing that includes a raft of pictures that shows that the inside of most glorious example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s textile block houses is as impressive as the exterior.

There’s a lot to see here, in many ways, quite literally, with the eponymous textile blocks (each concrete block being hand pressed in a mold designed by FLW) creating both a rhythm and a richness of texture over every surface.  This is further heightened by the wonderful designs and additions of the geometric stained-glass windows, mosaic hearths, wrought iron tracery, wood rafters, and even the custom furniture.  What makes this this a masterful design is that all this detail doesn’t devolve into a cacophony. It avoids any “visual barf” effect more commonly associated with gaudy ‘richness’.

The blocks also illustrate very clearly the proportions and divisions of space that render the house so successful.  Both the sculptural ridges that bisect the room height and the alcoves and offshoots that frame the walls and openings create divisions of space that are felt, giving the rooms multiple layers of scale.  Seated on the couch, the room can be at once snug and even intimate while maintaining a sense of expanse and wonder.  (It’s a bit like being in a small clearing amongst a copse of trees – you’re sheltered, but you can sense the greater world out there)

For me, this is the piece de resistance.  Eliminating a corner of the house, letting what ordinarily would be solid melt into a vista that perfectly frames the downtown.  In a town renown for its movies, that’s superbly well pulled off drama!

The Ennis house by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Definitively one of the great ones.  Fully restored, furnished, and on sale now at this link.

(If you buy it, please invite me over for a visit!)

All images by MLS listings

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