Relocation of Historic Frank Lloyd Wright House to Crystal Bridges a First

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 12:00 am  

That document includes a catalog of the house’s building components, listing every board and batten in the house. The house is a modular system, in which battens, which hold the boards, are nailed or screwed into place with every piece joining together using tongue and groove design.

The couple have already removed the furniture and the house’s built-ins. “There’s quite a bit of built-in furniture, because that was one of Wright’s signatures: the board and batten, a lot of glass, the built-ins, the radiant heat floor,” Tarantino said. “These were all very important to the Usonian period.”

As a component is removed, the Tarantinos place identification on the back, which the contractor who reassembles the house will use as a guide.

The couple bundle the board and batten components into units that can be carried by one or two men. “And then we have them organized into rooms so that everything stays very well together,” she said. “It’s organized in such a way so that the contractor will have a much easier method of reconstruction.”

“We plan on coming to Crystal Bridges during the reconstruction a couple of times to review certain milestones that are important in the reconstruction process,” said Tarantino, who declined to share the purchase price of the house.

Other Wright houses have been broken down and moved from one site to another, the Wright Conservancy said, but none before has ever been completely disassembled, piece by piece, and then reassembled.

In their search for someone to save their house, which they had listed for sale on the conservancy website, the Tarantinos approached Crystal Bridges in the autumn of 2012 and made a presentation to the museum in January 2013.

“We had learned about the museum and we learned about Fay Jones, that the Walton family house was close to the museum property,” Tarantino said. “When we learned about that, that’s when it sparked a light bulb and we thought, ‘Well, there are these relationships.’ That’s when we decided that we should try to pursue that.”

E. Fay Jones, the Arkansas native and internationally renowned architect for whom the school of architecture at the University of Arkansas is named, had been an apprentice of Wright. Jones’ Thorncrown Chapel near Eureka Springs placed fourth on the American Institute of Architects list of top 10 buildings of the 20th century. And the Walton family home, not far from the museum, was designed by Jones.

“That’s the thing about Crystal Bridges and Fay Jones,” Tarantino said. “We felt that wherever [the house] was to go there had to be an important link to Wright in some way.”

Once the Tarantinos visited the museum and saw the site, they knew who they wanted to buy their house. The combination of beautiful natural surroundings, an outstanding and architecturally impressive museum of American art and the Wright-Jones connection was powerfully convincing.

Taking apart their beloved home, one they spent years restoring, is hard, Tarantino said. “But we feel that now it’s being saved and that generations to come will be able to enjoy and learn from it. And it’s going to be in a place that has respect, with a museum of American art. It couldn’t be at a better place.”



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