On Monday, May 9, workers will begin a meticulous restoration of Samara, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in West Lafayette that Indiana Landmarks co-stewards with the John E. Christian Family Memorial Trust.
The $1.6 million project is funded by a $500,000 Save America’s Treasures grant from the National Park Service, the John E. Christian Family Memorial Trust, Inc., and private donations.
Indiana Landmarks led a years-long effort to get the building designated a National Historic Landmark, which made it eligible for federal grants like this one.
“We are excited to celebrate Samara’s national significance through this comprehensive project,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks. “As might be expected with any 66-year-old home, Samara is ready for some structural restoration.”
Dr. John and Catherine Christian commissioned Wright to design the house, working with him over a period of five years (1951-1956) to develop the design and construction details. As the sole owners, the Christians consistently adhered to Wright’s prescribed concepts and ideas. The house represents a rare example of the relationship between owner and client that Wright espoused, but rarely achieved, in which the client was a dedicated partner with the architect in realizing and maintaining the full expression of the famous architect’s plans. Those ideas included specific furniture, china, bed linens, and even the toilet paper holder.
Wright called the house Samara after the winged seeds produced by the site’s evergreens. He repeated an abstract version of the winged seed design motif in the interior and exterior of the house.
Chicago-based Harboe Architects prepared a detailed plan to address structural issues created by soil erosion and tree roots, and to restore the home’s exterior Philippine mahogany woodwork to its original appearance. Repairs to the aging heating and air-conditioning systems will ensure proper environmental controls to protect the home’s extensive collection of Wright-designed furnishings. Brandt Construction, Inc., of Indianapolis is serving as the project’s general contractor.
The house will be closed to public tours during the restoration, which is scheduled to last through the end of 2022. To follow the work or contribute to the project, visit Samara-house.org.
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About Save America’s Treasures
The National Park Service (NPS), in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), awards Save America’s Treasures matching grants to support the preservation of nationally significant historic properties and collections. Congress appropriates funding for Save America’s Treasures from the Historic Preservation Fund which uses revenue from federal oil leases to provide a broad range of preservation assistance without expending tax dollars. The program requires applicants to leverage project funds from other sources to match the grant money dollar for dollar.
About Indiana Landmarks
Indiana Landmarks revitalizes communities, reconnects us to our heritage, and saves meaningful places. With nine offices located throughout the state, Indiana Landmarks helps people rescue endangered landmarks and restore historic neighborhoods and downtowns. People who join Indiana Landmarks receive its bimonthly magazine, Indiana Preservation. For more information on the not-for-profit organization, call 317-639-4534, 800-450-4534, or visit www.indianalandmarks.org.
The John E. and Catherine Christian House, commonly known as Samara, is a National Historic Landmark located in West Lafayette, Indiana. The house represents one of the most complete works by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Public tours showcase the master architect’s design philosophy and innovations. Tours are usually available by reservation only, but the house is currently closed for restoration.
Suzanne Stanis, 800-450-4534, 317-605-9962 (cell), email@example.com
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