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G. M. Loeb House, Lonetown Road. Almost a Frank L. Wright Project in Redding, Connecticut  

From The Redding Times Article by G.M. Loeb, March 27, 1958. Loeb explains his house and why Frank L. Wright's design was not chosen.

Architecture is with me an avocation or hobby. Building a successful home, I feel, involves adherence to several major principles:

It must be adapted to the individual because in the final sense it reflects him and his way of living.

It must be adapted to the times because costs, skills and materials are always changing.

It must be adapted to the site not only for asthetic reasons but for obvious practical and physical ones. We may have developed excellent heating and air conditioning but in the long run it is both pleasanter and healthier to try to design a house that makes the minimum use of these modern adjuncts.

The achievement of a successful design on all these fronts requires the assistance of an inspired and dedicated architect.

When I first moved to Redding in 1935 we bought an old so-called "colonial" house. It was probably built in 1810 so it very definitely was of Federal and not Colonial vintage. However, it was built to conform as much as possible to what had been built before with such concessions to 1810 modernity as seemed inevitable at the time. It was huddled around its central chimney because all heat and cooking was related to that chimney. It had low ceilings to conserve the heat. Its window panes were small partly because glass was hard to get otherwise, partly perhaps because may years before small windows gave security from indians. It had no bathroom when it was built. How we came to buy it or remodel it or live in it, I will never know.

When we decided to build a house ourselves, it was important that I did not repeat the mistakes of the old house we bought in 1935.

Instead, I was fortunate in being able to go to the most inspired and dedicated architect of our times- Frank Lloyd Wright. His genius is so much above the nearest runner-up in his work that I have always felt that he justified an appellation more descriptive of his qualities than simply "architect." However, the Frank Lloyd Wright structure was not to be. Conceived under one set of conditions the delay of the war created a different situation. With one plan stillborn the enthusiasm to undertake a second was not forthcoming.

Back in 1937, we had constructed a relaxation room back in the woods about a mile off the public road. I had asked the late Howard Myers to name some young man he thought would make a name for himself in architecture and design and he named George Nelson, then a partner of the small firm of Nelson & Hamby. George gave us a hand the conception of what we call the "alley" because there is a bowling alley incorporated in it. Today George Nelson is famous in both fields of design and architecture. The main section is a great room 25 feet by 36 feet with the peak of the ceiling 24 feet high. It is constructed of handpegged oak with weathered chestnut siding. The fireplace took 40,000 brick to build. In addition to the bowling alley, it has a CinemaScope movie screen and projection system and a very fine music system. There is a great picture window looking to the east and centered on a giant granite boulder and majestic hemlock tree. The window is not simply a bald piece of glass but divided by one horizontal mutin and two vertical mutins to give both the room and the view character and integration and keep each in its proper relationship.

The ceiling is thatched inside both for decoration and insulation. Illumination is controlled by rheostat and centers on a huge hand lettered Chinese lantern.

The floor is made of logs cut up crosswise and keyed into a cement slab.

Opposite the picture window is an original painting done on the spot by Robert E. Lee depicting the various incidents of our life in Redding on a broad representation of a map of our original 100 acres.

There is a charcoal rotisserie built right into the chimney.

With the Frank Lloyd Wright house destined to remain a dream, Mrs. Loeb and I decided to add living quarters to the "alley" in the woods. The site was sheltered. The combination of the natural rocks of New England and its woodlands suggested stone and wood as the ideal materials. The work of Harwell Hamilton Harris seemed nearest to the needs of the situation.

The final design was Korean in feeling, not the deliberate choice but rather from function. Many years ago, for the "Architecture Forum," I defined the proper concept of function as including human as well as physical values. It is this combination which we think we have achieved here in the central portion of the house we came to call "Sliding Shutters" The physical was the need for a design that would keep the indoor temperature of the house equal to the outside shade temperature at all times in the warmer months. The decision suggested here was a heavily insulated and overhung roof with the great possible window area and ventilation below the floor. This naturally leads to the oriental design which features the sliding Shoji. They consist of a translucent set of panels and a screened set. Any combination can be used, or they can all be removed in months like October and the house opened completely to the outdoors.

It happened that Mrs. Loeb had lived in the Orient for many years and had many suitable art objects to use to embellish the interior.

Of particular importance is the scale of this room, which is considerably smaller than the original alley room below it. The opening between the two is through a door, perhaps 4 feet high, that forces one to stoop. Coming from the smaller area through the low door into the larger area creates an emotional impact that could not be had in no other way, and is an effect rarely calculated by the average architect.

As time went on we found the need of further rooms, most of which have been constructed one by one in succeeding summers. We still need a guest room and perhaps an all-year outdoor swimming pool. It is interesting to plan these additions in the spirit of time in which they are built rather than to have them units of an original all inclusive scheme. The help of Earl Carlin, Architect graduate of Yale, now practicing in New Haven, was sought in these newer additions.

The new kitchen especially deserves mention. It was oriented to the times- not to Redding colonialism or the oriental feeling of the main house. Rather it was built to the requirements of a modern kitchen and includes an electronic oven, skylights, air conditioning, accoustical treatment, etc... It could not have been built a few years back; I would not have built it a few years hence as I am sure there will be developments not available today. In short, it is integrated into 1957, when it was planned and constructed.

One of the new rooms is a bathroom with a small fireplace. The other is a sleeping room air conditioned in the daytime to keep its strcuture cool in the summer heat, but arranged with jalousies which can be opened completely at night to allow sleeping as much as possible in the cool open air. It is worth noting that the outdoors is conceived with the same philosophy as the structure itself. "Sliding Shutters" has been deliberately dropped into the rolling Redding hills like a boat into the sea. It is surrounded by native trees and shrubs that grow without attention in our climate and altitude. We like the laurel, the bayberry, and the black alder, the hemlock, the copper beech, the birch, the cedar.

Outdoors is planned for living all year around. On the south is a balcony, faced and shielded to be a natural sun trap. It is further made usable on any dry day in the year regardless of temperature by 5000 watts of infrared heat. Likewise we have a terrace open to the cooling of natural breezes which are bolstered in these relatively tranquill woods by a ceiling electric paddle fan.

An important part of a home is running it after it is built. Coming from California, where the weather is always mild, we are always shocked by one effect of winter in the east: the naturally deserted look of homes from the outside. We don't want guest to approach our house and feel they are not expected or wanted. Hence, we are most particular to have the fire going with smoke coming from the chimney and a few lights from outside.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the concepts outlined here have thoroughly proven themselves over and over again in the ten years of our occupancy. We think we moved the right way.

Notes on Gerald Loeb:

Gerald Loeb was a highly successful financier and founding partner of E.F. Hutton who made it his mission to educate individuals about finance, investments and economics. He first rose to prominence during the Great Depression, when skittish investors turned to his now-classic book "The Battle for Investment Survival," in which he outlined his buy-and-sell strategies. Throughout his 40-year career on Wall Street, Loeb continued to offer investors his sometimes-contrarian wisdom through his books and regular columns in publications such as Barron's. .

The Redding Boys Club was invited to Bowl at his personal bowling alley quite a bit in the 1950's, an activity they very much enjoyed.

The house was located just past the Redding Country Club on Lonetown Road. The 4th house down on this web site is close to the design for the Loeb house (it's the Pfeiffer Residence, Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona ).

Wright referred to the Loeb design and location as Tenaya. Mr. Wright usually named some houses after characteristics of the landscape. The only Tenaya I know of is Chief Tenaya an indian that didn't want to give up Yosemite valley. Maybe Wright saw a connection to the Loeb house and his desire to build it and Chief Tenaya's desire to live in this people's land. Perhaps he felt the way Chief Tenaya did in that he thought it a perfect location but was unable to complete his vision- Tenaya was killed by white settlers trying to reclaim the land in 1851.

The house location I believe is now a Arboretum and should be the second driveway after the Redding CC. http://pages.prodigy.net/highsteadarboretum/general.htm James Dudley is who I believe bought the property from Loeb.

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