Friday, January 15, 2016

The Historical Status of The Acres.... A Brief Read....

"No house should ever be on any hill or on anything. It should be of the hill, belonging to it, so hill and house could live together each the happier for the other." - Frank Lloyd Wright 1867-1959

After designing Falling Water Frank Lloyd Wright spent time in the late 30's designing approximately 60 middle income homes known as Usonian Houses. These were the aesthetic precursor to the modern ranch house. The Usonian homes were sparse yet elegant homes that introduced several innovative design ideas that included natural cooling, solar heating and the consistent use of carports.
 In 1946 a group of scientists from Upjohn got together and contacted Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1947 he came to Charleston Township and walked the proposed site. Thus began the making of an historical plat of homes.
It is evident in the book that I have that contains the correspondence between Frank and the Eppsteins, that each family wrote to him giving him background on them, their family, their future plans and what they wanted in a home. Then Frank obviously designed the home more to his liking for the lot it was being built upon and disregarded several suggestion that the owners had.
The group that brought Frank to Kalamazoo split around the same time with the official reason being that half of the group did not want to be so far from town. At this time Interstate 94 was not constructed this far west. Today it takes only a few minutes to get to downtown Kalamazoo.
Even though the group split they still worked together to build the two communities. The 40 acres at Parkwyn Village was platted in Kalamazoo near Asylum Lake and 70 acres for Galesburg Country Homes, aka The Acres, was platted in Charleston Township. Parkwyn has four Frank Lloyd Wright homes and other homes designed by various architects while The Acres has four Frank Lloyd Wright homes and one home designed by Taliesin School Fellow Francis Wilsey aka, "Will" Wilsey.
Each Frank Lloyd Wright home can attain individual historical status. However, what is unique about The Acres is that it is the only Frank Lloyd Wright plat of its kind in the United States, which has allowed The Acres as a whole to be on the National Register of Historical Places. When I say the "only Frank Lloyd Wright plat of its kind" I am referring to the fact that The Acres is today just as it was in 1947, platted for 21 Usonian homes. Only 4 Frank Lloyd Wrights would be built and then in 1959 the Fonken house was built. The remaining land is untouched and still platted.
The plat hints to that of a nature reserve with it's wooded rolling land and meadow on the high hill overlooking the private 3 acre pond.
The Eppstein residence overlooks a small meadow in the valley to the North that was at one time where the tennis court was located. Today, as in 1947, the rolling land has plenty of nature to view such as turkey, deer and fox.

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