The Martin House, which has been relatively free of contractors for the past year, is once again an active construction zone: Phase Five of our unprecedented restoration effort - the restoration of the Martin House interior - is under way!
The first major task in this phase was to remove all in situ art glass for its protection and conservation while other, messier work is orchestrated. On Monday, a team of workers from Hulley Woodworking Company fanned out across the house to remove twenty-seven art glass windows, crate them, and re-glaze the openings with temporary, plate glass. From there, the crated panels were transported to our secure storage facility, where they will be released, one by one, to a stained glass craftsman for conservation. Our goal is to have the majority of this glass restored by the time the other major components of Phase Five - asbestos removal, mechanical upgrades, woodwork restoration and reconstruction - are complete and the house is ready to receive its resplendent compliment of art glass.
This process of art glass removal afforded a unique opportunity: the near-total opening of the double cantilevers at the north and south bedrooms of the second floor. For a short time (perhaps less than an hour), these corners were literally open to the outdoors, emphasizing the miraculous structural sweep of the cantilevered roof corners, and the ephemeral nature of the art glass bands that form the envelope of enclosure for the space. Looking out onto the east lawn with a light rain falling, I felt the sense of standing on an elevated, skeletal pavilion under a broadly sheltering roof plane. In that moment, I didn't miss the beautiful "Tree of Life" windows that once defined the space - and I got a glimpse of how and why Wright eliminated art glass altogether from his later designs.