The Fight For and Against Landmark Status

Perhaps hoping to learn from past mistakes with the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright in Western New York, the Preservation Board has moved ahead with landmarking two of the homes he built in Buffalo.

William R. Heath House 1937
William R. Heath House 1937

Two Buffalo houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright were recommended for local landmark designation Thursday by the Buffalo Preservation Board. While the board has often been criticized for not acting quickly enough to protect the historic and significant buildings throughout Buffalo, not everyone is happy with their decision to move forward on these two properties.

Both the William R. Heath House and the Walter V. Davidson House were granted landmark status despite the owners’ objections.

Although the homes met seven of the nine criteria for landmarking, Nancy Schmid, who has owned the Heath House for 50 years, said she did not welcome the added tourist attention she feared landmarking could bring. People often come to her front door asking for tours of the home, unaware that its a private residence.

The Walter V. Davidson House 2009
The Walter V. Davidson House 2009

Likewise, Russ Maxwell, owner of the Davidson House and a former member of the Preservation Board, also objects to landmark status, claiming, “The property at 57 Tillinghast is in the finest condition in its 110-year history.”

Both Schmid and Maxwell have said they believe the homes should be landmarked in the future, but assert that since they have maintained the integrity of Wright’s designs and continue to use the homes as private residences, their wishes should override the Preservation Board’s decision.

The final decision will be up to the Buffalo Common Council, which will rule on the matter following a public hearing.  Since the Preservation Board has stated that their only responsibility is to the buildings themselves and the significance they represent for the community, perhaps the Common Council will be more willing to take the owners’ opinions and track records for stewardship of the properties into account.

DARPA and the Living Home

As home ownership and repair becomes an increasingly expensive and time-consuming affair, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has embarked on a program mission of creating building materials that have living organism attributes. Their goal is to not only grow building materials on site but for the structure to be a self-healing, essentially repairing itself as needed.

That means we’re that much closer to living in self-repairing sustainable, custom grown Hobbit-holes.

And once we’re on that path, it’s only a few hundred thousand years until we’ve evolved into the subterranean-dwelling Morlocks HG Wells predicted in “The Time Machine”.

Thanks a lot DARPA…

Follow the link for the full article from Popular Science.

New Year, New Tile

After some flooding our customer thought it would be a good opportunity to have us come in and put down new tile throughout their basement great room and hallway leading into it.  The finished space we were working in used to be two rooms and only one had been tiled somewhere around forty years ago.  The good news was, that water issue they had?  That loosened a lot of those tiles, so we wouldn’t have to worry about leveling the floor out where the tile tapered off.  The bad news was only about half the tile came up easy.

Once that was done we were all set to start laying 6×36″ grey wood grain porcelain tile throughout the entire space.  Starting along the longest wall, from the exterior corner, we layed down our first line and started working from there.

A surprise addition to the job came while we were debating what to do along the hearth.  Originally, we considered using the same wood grain tile and running it either perpendicular to the tile on the floor or creating a herringbone design.  We thought it might make the fireplace stand out even more to have the same tile on the hearth as the floor and allow that to blend in, but when we laid out a few ideas with scrap pieces but it just didn’t look right.

The Loves were able to meet up at Home Depot and picked out the black granite tile for the hearth and glass tile for the fireplace and wall. The glass tile running up the fireplace and wall behind it may grab your attention with an almost-too-busy shining and shimmering, but the hearth itself came out incredible. Between the glass tile above it and the wood grain tile surrounding it, the absolute black granite tile is simple but the contrast to everything around it is stunning.

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