The Walter House at Cedar Rock featured on CNN

I knew Frank Lloyd Wright's name before I knew anything about his work.

Maybe it was from the worst Simon & Garfunkel song ever. Maybe it was just a name thrown around in art class under the rubric of "Person You Should Have Heard Of By Now."

But when I finally did discover Wright's work, it was by accident -- a trip to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Stunned by the building as much as the art inside it, I looked up the name of the architect only to find a very familiar set of names -- Frank Lloyd Wright.

For most Americans, Wright's name is associated with houses. He believed that quality design could be affordable, that people should live in harmony with nature instead of closed off from it, and that you didn't need a lot of space to live comfortably -- all, to my ear, very American ideas.

This June, Wright fans around the world will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the architect's birth, with New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) kicking off an exhibit dedicated to his life and work on June 12.

But my own personal journey into Wright sent me to the Midwest, where he was born and where many of his most singular designs still stand.

Wisconsin

Taliesin: Wright's Wisconsin estate.

Wright was born in Spring Green, Wisconsin, to a mother of Welsh heritage. He honored that heritage in the name of his home and studio there, Taliesin, (tally-essen), which is Welsh for "shining brow."

Like many icons, Wright was as well-known for his life as for his work. He was known for his scandalous relationships with women and for often having financial problems, refusing to pay bar tabs or going wildly over budget on building projects.

Arguably the most controversial was "The Taliesin Murders," when a disgruntled employee set fire to the Wisconsin estate, resulting in the death of, among others, "Mamah" Borthwick Cheney, the woman for whom Wright had left his wife of 20 years.

Today, the murders aren't part of the typical Taliesin tour -- although guides will answer questions if asked directly, and some will show you a charred section of the roof that was singed in the fire and never replaced -- but they remain a key part of Wright's mythology.

However, it was a more recent cultural reference that crossed my mind: All I could think about was the recent death of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, the young man in Portland who defended two young Muslim girls from an attacker and was killed in the process -- was he named for Wright's famous home? And if so, what kind of awful symbolism was this?

Taliesin is a great place to get introduced to some of the signature elements of Wright's style, which will begin to feel familiar once you've seen a few of his structures -- long straight beams, short ceilings that give way to larger open spaces, outdoor elements like plants brought indoors, heavy emphasis on natural light, and a major lack of storage space.

(Wright was known for hating basements and closets, as he believed that if he gave people room to store stuff, they would buy more stuff. Think of it as forced minimalism.)

Visiting Taliesin could easily fill an entire day -- there are multiple buildings on the compound, including a school, and the grounds are expansive.

But Wisconsin had so many other riches -- and just opened up an official Frank Lloyd Wright trail this year -- I had to keep moving.

SC Johnson: The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Administration Building.

Within a single day, I saw several of Wright's most notable buildings: the offices for the SC Johnson complex in Racine (where Wright cleverly integrated building materials like glass tubes, and where he built a dumbwaiter so scientists could send each other things from different floors), and sweeping Wingspread (which began as a home for Johnson's then-president and is now used as event space).

The office, done in Wright's trademark dusty "Cherokee red" hue and with chairs and other furniture designed by the man himself -- he loved the idea of having full creative control, even though he had never formally studied carpentry-- gives off a major "Mad Men" vibe.

Despite Wright's international fame, not every building is as well-maintained as Taliesin or SC Johnson. Many have fallen into disrepair, cared for only by a committed team of local Wright fans and preservationists. One such example is the "Burnham Houses," named because they occupy a full block of houses on Milwaukee's Burnham Street.

The Burnham homes include duplexes -- a curious anomaly, as Wright was best known for single-family homes -- and are being purchased and fixed up one by one by the Wright in Wisconsin group. They're of particular interest to Wright fans, as it's the only time he designed multiple buildings on the same street.

Like many Wright groups around the country and the world, Wright in Wisconsin is hoping that the surge of interest around the 150th will bring in additional funds and support for their work.

Another such project is the AD German Warehouse, whose volunteer docent wagers it is the least-visisted Wright site in the world. The warehouse had fallen into disuse, and some locals -- who still resent Wright or have a story about a bar tab he ran out on and never paid -- wanted to tear it down.

Preservationists won out, though, and now a group of local volunteers have even gone so far as to hire experts in Hazmat suits to clean years' worth of animal and bird feces out of the building. Now, there's a small gift shop, the occasional guided tour, and the happy discovery of Wright artifacts from a retrospective of his work the architect put together in Italy.

The next day, it was on to Wisconsin's capital of Madison, where one of Wright's most enduring designs was not completed until after his death -- Monona Terrace, a community center and event space -- and he designed a project with special personal meaning, the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, which was a church whose founders included his parents.

As a designer of public places, it seems fitting that Wright's designs would evolve over time. Monona hosts weddings and high school proms, while the First Unitarian Society shares its space with a local synagogue.

Iowa

Historic Park Inn: The only remaining Wright-designed hotel.

Although Wright designed several hotels in his lifetime -- including the now-demolished Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, which began his longtime appreciation for Japanese design -- the only one still standing is the Historic Park Inn in the small town of Mason City, Iowa.

(There's some debate about this -- Wright had a major role in Arizona's Biltmore Hotel, but was not listed as the architect of record.)

Wright was commissioned to design a law office and a hotel in Mason City, which have since been combined into one single building -- it's probably the only hotel in the world that also contains a legal library.

The town, whose other claim to fame is inspiring the setting of River City in Meredith Wilson's musical "The Music Man," might not otherwise be on the radar of international tourists, but thanks to its Wright connection travelers regularly visit from as far away as Germany and Brazil.

And while some Wright buildings get a reputation for being uncomfortable to live in -- remember that thing about him hating closets -- the hotel has been modernized with conveniences like Wi-Fi and TV without destroying the original design, and, don't worry, the beds are delightfully cozy.

Because of Mason City's remoteness -- about 140 miles south of Minneapolis and 140 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids -- many Wrightaholics combine their stay at the Park Inn with visits to Cedar Rock -- a home Wright designed for the wealthy Walter family -- and the Stockman House, a quintessential brown-and-white home in Mason City.

Although I only visited two US states, I was able to fit more than a dozen Wright properties onto my schedule -- and that's nothing compared to some of the other diehard Wright fans I met at Taliesin and elsewhere, some of whom have clocked more than a hundred homes and buildings so far.

But with Wright it's not just about quantity, about crossing names off a list.

His work has helped me to understand some of what it means to be American.

Unlike many great architects of the past, Wright didn't design ornate palaces or cathedrals -- he made homes, many of which were in the range that a regular family (granted, a regular family with an appreciation for design and a willingness to put a piano in the living room even if they didn't know how to play) could afford.

He made public spaces, like Monona Terrace, where people could take classes or interact with civic leaders.

When he designed servants' quarters, they too were elegant-- he believed that rich or poor, everyone deserved access to great design and to beauty.

Yes, his personal life had scandal. Yes, he could sometimes be a real pain to work with.

But his ideas continue on well beyond his life, and places from Manhattan to Mason City are studded with examples of his work -- nearly everyone in the United States is within driving distance of something he created.

In a big, diverse, eclectic country like this one, it's a rare feat -- and an important one.

Link to CNN page: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/02/travel/frank-lloyd-wright-turns-150-architecture-tour-us-midwest/index.html?ofs=fbia

Cedar Rock: Frozen in time - Frank Lloyd Wright Home in Quasqueton, Iowa like a time capsule to the past

Stepping through the door of Cedar Rock is like stepping through a portal in time.

The Quasqueton home, built in 1950 by famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright for Lowell and Anges Walter, is just as the Walters left it when they dedicated it to the state after Lowell’s death in 1981 — all of the furniture, decor, clothing and even knick knacks like personalized match boxes, tools, even a dog toy hanging in Lowell’s gun closet, are left where the Walters had them — as if frozen in time.

Now owned by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and run as a state park, the home is maintained by state officials and open to to the public for tours during park hours. The park draws some 10,000 visitors each year from all over the world, said Katie Hund, park manager of Cedar Rock.

Cedar Rock is one of hundreds of Frank Lloyd Wright’s unique and innovative designs across the United States, but is one of few to be left in its original form — including furniture and decorations Wright designed himself, Hund said.

“No place is as completely original as this house,” said Jerry Reisinger, board member of the Friends of Cedar Rock, a nonprofit that raises money to maintain the property.

“It would be hard to find a site to rival it,” he added. “You come here and it’s like the Walters are just out to lunch and you’re in their home.”

“Even the plants are descendants of the originals,” Hund added.

After amassing more than 5000 acres of farmland throughout Buchanan County in 1945, the Walters wrote to Wright hoping he would build their retirement estate on eleven of those acres, locally known as “Cedar Rock.”

“They specified they wanted something nice, but not too nice,” Hund said.

Although, the home would cost the Walters $150,000, which was about 30 times more than the average home of that era, she added.

“That was a ton of money for a house back then, especially out here,” Reisinger agreed.

Wright responded in only three sentences: he’d build it, there wouldn’t be a basement or attic and to send further details.

“He was incredibly busy during the time of the Walters’ construction,” Hund said. “I think he appreciated their interest in his work and their willingness to let him design it as he saw fit.”

Wright completed the 1800 square foot, three bed, two bath home in 1950 after two years of construction. The Walters lived there for 31 years in the spring through fall, in addition to their other home in Des Moines.

“This was their real show place,” Hund said. “Wright called it his Opus 497.”

In fact, Cedar Rock is one of Wright’s 40 or so “signature houses,” Hund said, explaining that only a few homes he designed earned a special tile signed by Wright himself, signifying his favorite clients.

After the home was turned over to the DNR in the 80s, it was funded by the Walter Charitable Trust Fund until 2009. Over time, the state purchased more land, growing the park to include 400 acres, Hund said. After 2009, the cost of maintaining the park was absorbed into the state park budget.

“We’ve operated on budget constraints since 2009 — considerably less than what we had in the past,” Hund said. “Staffing and hours of operation were reduced.”

Seeing the DNR’s budget restraints, a group of community members formed the Friends of Cedar Rock to support maintenance of the home.

“The fact is, the DNR’s budget has been cut so badly it’s affected the park and how well it’s maintained,” Reisinger said. “We saw we could be a huge help, how we could keep this park going. We can get things done that the DNR can’t. ... (But) something needs to happen to change the trajectory so the DNR’s budget comes around.”

Most recently, the group raised around $170,000 to renovate Cedar Rock’s boathouse, which was in desperate need of repair, Reisinger said.

“The DNR was not going to be able to renovate it because they have a huge backlog of things more important to deal with, like roads and maintenance of public buildings,” Reisinger said. “I guarantee (the boathouse renovation) wouldn’t have happened without that money. It would have continued to deteriorate.”

Hund said the renovations came at a “serendipitous time,” as this year is the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birth.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate,” she said.

In fact, just a couple days after Wright’s birthday on June 8, the park will open for a special nighttime tour of Cedar Rock for their Strawberry Moon Fundraiser on June 10 from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

“It’s an awesome opportunity to see the house at night,” Reisinger said. “It’s like a totally different world. It adds a dimension you don’t get to see during the day.”

Liz Zabel - The Gazette

Cedar Rock Celebrates Restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse

Cedar Rock State Park 'friends' step in to preserve piece of history - Group celebrates $200,000 restoration of boathouse designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

 

QUASQUETON — With shrinking budgets, Iowa state parks increasingly are getting by with a little help from their friends.

Cedar Rock State Park, site of a well-preserved Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house, is a case in point.

About 50 people turned out on a rainy Saturday to celebrate the $200,000 restoration of the Wright home’s unique boathouse — a project park leaders acknowledged would not have happened without the leadership and determination of the Friends of Cedar Rock.

“We are becoming increasingly dependent upon friends groups,” said Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp, who praised their willingness to assume some “economic ownership of our state parks.”

Gipp cited similar friends group contributions to the construction of a visitor center at the Decorah Fish Hatchery (the first Iowa facility to be built entirely with funds raised by a friends group) and the $12 million revitalization of Lake Darling State Park.

The boathouse would have continued to deteriorate if the friends group had not raised the money through grants and donations, said Katie Hund, site manager at Cedar Rock, the state-owned estate built by Wright for Lowell and Agnes Walter in the early 1950s.

“These public-private partnerships, with extensive local community involvement, are key to preserving the heritage of our state parks,” said Todd Coffelt, chief of the DNR Parks Bureau.

Hund said the boathouse, with its overhanging roof and cantilevered construction, is one of only five such structures designed by Wright and the only one in its original condition. It echoes key features of the main house, which sits at the opposite end of the limestone spine known as Cedar Rock.

While the house had been well preserved, deferred maintenance and prolonged exposure to the elements had degraded the river pavilion, which features a fireplace, sleeping and lounging quarters, boat storage and launching facilities and a deck overlooking the Wapsipinicon River.

About 6,000 deteriorated bricks were replaced during the restoration last August and September.

Workers also replaced much of the building’s concrete exterior and refinished the walnut woodwork in the room that served as Lowell Walter’s office.

Hund said Walter considered the boathouse his personal retreat and spent time there relaxing and making phone calls to the tenants of the 5,000 acres of farmland he once owned in Buchanan County.

When he died in 1981, he and his widow Agnes left Cedar Rock to the Iowa Conservation Commission and the people of Iowa.

Friends of Cedar Rock President Allison York of Iowa City attributed much of the fundraising effort’s success to grant application writers Jerry and Patty Reisinger of Quasqueton and Carl Thurman of Cedar Falls.

They helped secure grants from the state’s Resource Enhancement and Protection program, the Black Hawk County Gaming Association, the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa and the Buchanan County Community Foundation.

Cedar Rock is open to the public Thursday through Sunday from Memorial Day weekend into October. It had been open from Wednesday through Sunday until this year, when budget constraints limited its days of operation.

Source:  http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/cedar-rock-state-park-friends-step-in-to-preserve-piece-of-history-20170521

Cedar Rock finds a lot to celebrate in 2017

Iowa DNR  News Release - - This year, Cedar Rock State Park and other public Frank Lloyd Wright sites around the world will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the famed architect’s birth.

Born on June 8, 1867, Wright literally shaped the face of the modern world as an architect, and 150 years later his work is still influential.  With their innovation and sustainable design, Wright’s structures serve as inspiration for modern architects and designers. 

“The people of Iowa have a rare gem in Cedar Rock,” says Kathryn Hund, park manager for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources at Cedar Rock. “The property is like a time capsule, a beautifully preserved example of Wright’s architectural and interior design.”

Originally the retirement estate of Iowa businessman Lowell Walter and his wife, Agnes, Cedar Rock was donated to the State of Iowa in 1981. The Wright-designed residence lies on a limestone bluff overlooking the Wapsipinicon River near Quasqueton in Buchanan County.

The Walter house was finished in 1950 and is one of Wright's most complete designs. Nearly everything at Cedar Rock bears the architect's imprint, including its interior furnishings. Besides the home, Wright-designed facilities at the park include the one-of-a-kind River Pavilion, council fire and a formal entrance gate.

Cedar Rock is one of nine Wright-designed residences in Iowa, but is the only one chosen by Wright to bear his coveted signature tile.

Hund is proud of the fact that, in April, the park was visited by CNN "Travel." A crew spent time filming the historic estate as part of an upcoming segment commemorating Wright and the 150th anniversary.

“We don’t yet know exactly when the feature will be completed and air,” says Hund, “But we will do our best to get the word out when we do.”

This week, Hund also welcomed Iowa Tourism Office representatives, there to recognize Cedar Rock State Park for its contribution to the state’s $8.06 billion tourism industry.

“We realize that Cedar Rock plays a key role in our local economy,” says Hund. “And we are so fortunate to have it as part of the public trust. Please take time to visit us this year and enjoy some of our special events surrounding the 150th anniversary.”

Cedar Rock State Park is located between Quasqueton and Independence at 2611 Quasqueton Diagonal Blvd, Independence. Cedar Rock State Park is expected to open for the season on Friday, May 26. For information on tour times or to make a tour reservation, call the park office at 319-934-3572. For more information visit the Friends of Cedar Rock website at www.friendsofcedarrock.org  

2017 Special Events at Cedar Rock State Park include:

May 20, Celebration of the Wright River Pavilion Restoration Project

The River Pavilion at Cedar Rock State Park is one of only five Wright-designed boathouses and the only one existing as originally designed. The Cedar Rock boathouse and rock outcropping are landmarks on the banks of the Wapsipinicon River.  Over the years, flooding, weather, vandalism and age took their toll on the unique structure. In 2016, through various funding sources and donations, the River Pavilion was restored.

The Iowa DNR and the Friends of Cedar Rock invite the public to attend a restoration celebration, Saturday, May 20 from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. Celebration remarks will be made at 1:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served, and the house and grounds will be open for those attending.

June 10, Strawberry Moon Evening -- Celebrating 150 Years of Frank Lloyd Wright
The Friends of Cedar Rock will celebrate 150 years of Frank Lloyd Wright at their annual Strawberry Moon Evening, Saturday, June 10.  This special evening allows guests the chance to experience the Walter residence after hours. The public is invited to explore the rarely open Maid’s Quarters and the newly restored River Pavilion, and stroll through the house meander to relax by a fire at the Council Fire.

The Friends of Cedar Rock group requests a free-will donation for the event, with all proceeds used to help support Cedar Rock State Park. 

October 14, An Afternoon with Frank Lloyd Wright
Lecture symposium featuring speakers on Wright and his work, 1:00 p.m. 

January 1, 2018, Annual 1st Day Hike
Kick off your new year the ‘Wright’ way with a hike at Cedar Rock State Park. Meet at visitor center at 1:00 p.m

Restored Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse Debuts May 20

The Friends of Cedar Rock are pleased to announce the grand opening of the newly restored river pavilion. The structure, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, recently underwent a $200,000 restoration project to preserve the two-story boathouse and restore it to its original state after years of deferred maintenance.

The river pavilion at Cedar Rock State Park is truly unique as it is one of only five realized boathouses of Wright’s 500 structures. Cedar Rock is the only designed Wright residential boathouse that still retains its originality. Flooding, weather, vandalism and age took their toll on this unique and amazing structure over the years, but through the dedication of the Friends of Cedar Rock, the Walter Charitable Trust, and the Iowa DNR this River Pavilion looks "Wright "again.

The Friends of Cedar Rock worked diligently for several years securing donations, grants and funding for this project.  The group received funding for this project from REAP’s Historic Resource Development Program (HRDP), Black Hawk County Gaming Association, Community Foundation of North East Iowa, Buchanan County Community Foundation, and group and individual gifts.  They also received funding from the Walter Charitable Trust and the Iowa DNR. 

The boathouse is one of the structures that make up the Walter and Agnes Lowell estate at Cedar Rock.  Completed in 1950, the home is a unique example of complete Usonian-era work by Wright, featuring brick walls and an interior decorated with the architect’s furniture- he even picked out all the draperies.

The celebration will take place Saturday, May 20 from 1:00 p.m.- 3:00 p.m. with dedication remarks at 1:30, at Cedar Rock State Park 2611 Quasqueton Diagonal Blvd, Independence, Iowa. Light refreshments will be served.  The event is open to the public.

Restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright boathouse seeks to showcase small space design

Described by some as a “man cave,” the small brick structure shows Wright working on a smaller scale, designing in tune with the landscape

BY PATRICK SISSON  @FREQRESPONSE SEP 1, 2016, 5:09P

Frank Lloyd Wright loved Wisconsin. But a project in Quasqueton, Iowa, gave the architect a unique opportunity to reflect the Midwest landscape from multiple dimensions. At what’s known as the Cedar Rock House, he designed a series of structures that anticipated how the owners would enjoy and appreciate the landscape, including a standout Usonian house. A $220,000 restoration project currently underway, seeking to preserve and protect the property’s two-story boathouse, is bringing a small but significant part of Wright’s vision back from decades of deferred maintenance.

The Cedar Rock boathouse, which sits on the Wapsipinicon River, was the property of Lowell and Agnes Walter, who retired in the 1940s and enlisted Wright to create a perfect home for their twilight years. Using profits from Lowell’s Iowa Road Building Company and real estate investments—the Walters smartly bought up acres of prime local farmland—they were able to present the architect with an 11-acre riverfront site in Lowell’s hometown.

The couple asked the architect to design a residence that would best showcase the natural advantages of the site. Swamped with work when he received the offer, Wright said he’d just sketch something without visiting Iowa, but Lowell and Agnes eventually convinced him otherwise. Wright would visit, get inspired, and even stop by during construction; archival photos show Wright demonstrating the best way to lay bricks to local contractors.

Completed in 1950, the home was a unique example of complete Usonian-era work by Wright, featuring brick walls and an interior decorated with the architect’s furniture (he even picked out all the draperies). The "tadpole" shaped house—a central cluster of living rooms attached to a long hallway of bedrooms—features a celebrated garden room ringed in three glass walls, which offered wide-angle views of the surrounding countryside.

"There’s something really special about the garden room at Cedar Rock, the way he brings the outdoors into the house just touches people," says Kathryn Hund of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, who manages and oversees Cedar Rock. "There’s a quote where Wright talks about the building growing from the site, and I agree. I looks like it just grew from the ground.The boathouse site about 100 yards from the main building on the opposite end from the home on a limestone outcropping that gives the estate its name. A miniature version of the house that mirrors its flat roof and profile, the tiny space provided an escape for Lowell.

Some have called it a Wrightian version of a man cave: the two-story structure contained a garage-like space for Lowell’s custom wooden motorboat, gear, and canoes, as well as a second floor space with a bed and desk. There’s both an indoor working space, fireplace, and screened-in porch.

The boathouse is just one of the other outdoor spaces Wright designed at Cedar Rock that made the landscape, the primary selling point, more enjoyable and accessible, according to Alison York, President of Friends of Cedar Rock, the local organization that helped fund the restoration.

"There’s a council fire, a large fireplace with a built-in bench, and then boathouse down below by the river," says York. "The structures really let the owners interact with the site."

Frank Lloyd Wright designed other boathouses in his career, but the one at Cedar Rock stands out as being the only one designed in concert with the main residence, as well as an original that’s still standing; a similar project on Lake Delavan in Wisconsin burned down.

The push to restore the boathouse project started in 2009, when a Department of Natural Resources engineer noticed the the building was leaking and was in dire need of work. When Lowell passed away in 1981, Agnes donated the Cedar Rock house and all 11 acres to the state, which placed it under the purview of the Department of Natural Resources, and set up a trust fund to pay for the upkeep of the home.  But beginning in 2009, the state began to pick up the tab for maintenance.

After Iowa funded a roofing project that served as a stopgap to prevent further damage, and began soliciting donations from visitors, the Friends of Cedar Rock, a local non-profit, decided to pitch in and help cover the needed boathouse restoration project. Beginning in 2010, the group raised enough money, and won enough grant funding, to fund a full renovation, which is currently underway and set to finish sometime in September or October.

Currently, crews are working on concrete, brickwork, and tuckpointing, and recovering from floods caused by a recent heavy rainstorm. The season at Cedar Rock runs from May to October, so those wanting to check out the new boathouse will probably need to wait until May to see the finished product, since the contractors are racing to finish by the end of October.

For more photos, click here.

The boathouse at Cedar Rock under construction in 1949.

The boathouse at Cedar Rock under construction in 1949.

Boathouse Restoration Underway

Restoration underway at Frank Lloyd Wright-designed boathouse in northeast Iowa

Cedar Rock State Park 'man cave' is 'shining example' of architect's work

QUASQUETON — A $220,000 restoration of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed boathouse at Cedar Rock State Park is to burnish a rare architectural gem.

“We are incredibly excited about getting it back to its original condition,” said Katie Hund, site manager at Cedar Rock, the state-owned estate built by Wright for Lowell and Agnes Walter in the early 1950s.

The restoration, ongoing for the past two weeks, “will make Cedar Rock a shining example of Wright’s work,” she said.

Of the few boathouses Wright designed. Lowell Walter’s “man cave,” as she calls it, is thought to be the only one in its original condition, she said.

Lowell Walter considered the boathouse his personal retreat and spent time there relaxing and making phone calls to the tenants of the approximately 5,000 acres of farmland he once owned in Buchanan County.

Hund said the pavilion housed Walter’s wooden boat, powered by a 33-horsepower outboard, that was capable of 30 mph in an era when that was fast. “He liked to pick up friends at the park in Quasqueton and take them upriver in the boat to play cards in the pavilion,” she said.

While the house itself remains in good repair, deferred maintenance and exposure to the elements have degraded the elegant brick pavilion that features a fireplace, sleeping and lounging quarters, boat storage and launching facilities and a deck overlooking the scenic Wapsipinicon River.

The boathouse, with its overhanging roof, cantilevered construction and Wright-designed furniture, echoes key features of the main house, which sits at the opposite end of the limestone spine known as Cedar Rock.

Workers are restoring the building’s brick and concrete exterior and refinishing the walnut woodwork inside the boathouse. Completion is expected in September, according to Josh Smyser, owner of TNT Tuckpointing and Building Restoration of Stockton, the lead contractor on the project.

Smyser said about 6,000 deteriorated bricks are to be replaced as part of the restoration.

“This is our first Wright project,” said Smyser, whose company specializes in restoring historic structures, including Terrace Hill, the governor’s mansion in Des Moines.

Hund said watching workers pump concrete through an extensive set of pipes to the remote site made her wonder about the labor involved in the original construction.

Restoring the boathouse has been the top priority of Friends of Cedar Rock, a volunteer support group that has raised most of the money for the project through grants, donations and special events.

Hund said the friends have secured grants from the Buchanan County Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of Northeastern Iowa, the Black Hawk County Gaming Commission and the state Resource Enhancement and Protection program. The largely depleted Walter Charitable Trust has also contributed $50,000 to the project, she said.

The trust fund, which consisted of two bequests totaling $1.5 million, covered Cedar Rock’s expenses from 1982, the year the Walters bequeathed it to the state, until 2009, when the Department of Natural Resources assumed most of the site’s operating expenses.

The park hosts about 10,000 visitors a year, many of whom come to see Wright’s handiwork and have donated to the boathouse restoration fund, Hund said.

It appeals to people with diverse interests ranging from engineering and architecture to woodworking, Iowa history and scenic beauty, she said.

More photos available online here: The Gazette   http://www.thegazette.com/subject/life/home-garden/restoration-underway-at-frank-lloyd-wright-designed-boathouse-in-northeast-iowa-20160822 

Cedar Rock opens for the season, begins renovations

 

Click here to view video 

BUCHANAN COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) – If step onto any of the 320 acres of Cedar Rock State Park you will experience a piece of history. On the grounds sits one of the few signature Frank Lloyd Wright homes and structures.

The famous architect built the home for the Walter family in 1950. It received so much attention, the Walters opened it up to the public for viewing. In 1981 the Walter’s donated the home to the Iowa Conservation Commission, and now more than 10,000 people from all over the world travel to Buchanan County to visit the home every year.

“Cedar rock is one of 10 homes in Iowa, but it is the only signature house,” Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Kathryn Hund said. “We get a lot of visitors that want to come through the house, but they like to spend time outside here as well. They check out the view of the house, we have a trail that leads from the visitor’s center down to the house, a lot of people doing photography. We also have people who come out here for mushrooming, hunting, all sorts of different uses.”

Along with the home, Wright designed the formal entrance gate, entertainment area, and the famous river pavilion. The boat house sits off of a prominent rock on the Wapsipinicon River. That’s how the park got its name of Cedar Rock.

“It’s one of fewer than a hand full of boat houses that Wright designed worldwide, and probably the only one still in its original condition,” Hund said.

With the boat house being more than 65 years old, upkeep is difficult. Its original funding fell through in 2009, and the structure is in rough condition.

There’s missing bricks, water damage, broken gates, and ripped screens. After seeing the damage a group joined together to begin restoration and promotion.

Friends of Cedar Rock is not your typical park group.

“Typical park friends group are neighbors right around the park, and the friends in this group are really from a wide area in eastern Iowa ranging from Cedar falls, Dubuque, Iowa City, and beyond,” Director Patty Resignger said.

The group was recently granted its official nonprofit status, and members have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars toward fixing the boat house. They want to keep it in its original state to educate guests on Wright’s work.

“The boat house will look as it did 50 years ago, and we’ll preserve the structure another 50 years until weather takes its toll again. This will be an example that people from all over the world will come to see,” Risingnger said.

“There’s no way it would of happened without them at this point. We’re apart of state parks, but the funding for this project would not have come together for probably quite some time,” Hund said. “We’re incredibly lucky. This is their first funding project, and I couldn’t imagine it going any better than it has.”

The entire renovation project can be live streamed here, as it begins in the next couple of weeks. 
The park opens for the season Wednesday. Tours are given hourly Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Boathouse restoration will begin in spring 2016

Dec 26, 2015
Orlan Love
The Gazette

QUASQUETON — A $200,000 restoration of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed boathouse at Cedar Rock State Park will get underway this spring.

“We call it the man cave,” said Katie Hund, site manager at Cedar Rock, the state-owned estate built by Wright for Lowell and Agnes Walter in the early 1950s.

“The boathouse was Lowell’s personal retreat, a place where he could get away and relax,” Hund said.

The boathouse, with its overhanging roof, cantilevered construction and Wright-designed furniture, echoes key features of the main house, which sits at the opposite end of the limestone spine known as Cedar Rock.

While the house remains in good condition, deferred maintenance and prolonged exposure to the elements have degraded the elegant brick pavilion, which features a fireplace, sleeping and lounging quarters, boat storage and launching facilities, and a deck overlooking the scenic Wapsipinicon River.

The contract, awarded to Eugene Matthews Inc. of Broadview, Ill., calls for restoring the building’s brick and concrete exterior and refinishing the walnut woodwork inside the boathouse. Completion is expected in October.

Restoring the boathouse has for several years been the top priority of Friends of Cedar Rock, a volunteer support group that has raised most of the money for the project through grants, donations and special events.

“I don’t see how this could have happened without the Friends,” said Hund, who noted they secured grants from the Buchanan County Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of Northeastern Iowa, the Black Hawk County Gaming Commission and the state Resource Enhancement and Protection program.

Hund said the largely depleted Walter Charitable Trust will contribute $50,000 to the project.

The trust fund, which consisted of two bequests totaling $1.5 million, covered Cedar Rock’s expenses from 1982, the year the Walters bequeathed it to the state, until 2009, when the Department of Natural Resources assumed most of the site’s operating expenses.

The park hosts about 10,000 visitors a year, many of whom come to see Wright’s handiwork and have donated to the boathouse restoration fund, Hund said.

The house and boathouse together “form a wonderful ensemble,” said Friends member Carl Thurman of Cedar Falls, who drafted the grant proposals.

Although Wright designed several boathouses, the Cedar Rock pavilion is the only one whose construction was overseen by Wright that remains standing, according to Thurman, who has visited all the Wright-designed structures open to the public in the United States.

http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/frank-lloyd-wright-designed-boathouse-being-restored-20151226