Frank Lloyd Wright Monument, Glencoe, IL, June 2013
In early June, I flew to Chicago as a part of the Smith Art Conservation team tasked to restore this 1 of 3 original Frank Lloyd Wright monuments in Glencoe, Illinois. The monument - originally constructed in 1915 - was erected as part of a broader vision for the estate of Wright's lawyer Sherman Booth. Each monument stands at the planned entrances to Ravine Bluffs, Booth's multi-acre estate, which was later parcelled as a high end residential subdivision.
Within Ravine Bluffs, there are multiple examples of Wright's earliest works along with the sole bridge he ever designed. Heralded for his attention to design ascetic, Wright is conversely lambasted for his flagrant disregard to sound construction practices and materials; many of the homes throughout the property have undergone massive renovation due structural flaws and neglect of the original materials used by the architect. Even the original bridge at Ravine Bluffs was closed in 1977 for safety concerns and completely rebuilt in 1985 after a major effort by the local community helped fund the massive undertaking.
These images and time lapse highlight eight painstaking days of work, which consisted of paint & cement-thermacoat removal, mold-making, concrete matching & pouring, structural reinforcement, and detailed shaping/ filling to accurately match the original, intended vision of the piece. As seen in the historical photographs (below), this planter-monument began showing serious signs of weathering within a only a few years of construction, and over the decades minor repair work had been made to try and stem its continued deterioration. Standing in Chicago's inclement weather for almost one hundred years, the piece necessitated major structural reinforcement to ensure its continued place as an historical artifact furnishing the City of Glencoe; as is true for all art conservation, we have maintained signs of some historical maintenance and natural aging to tell the broader story of the monument while conserving Wright's original vision.
My coworkers and I feel especially proud of this project and the work that we accomplished.
Music: "Youthless" by Beck
Historical Photographs: The City of Glencoe, Illinois