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Wright’s vision – Plan integrates Gordon House indoor/outdoor experience

By James Day

When famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright was working on his Usonian house design, one of the goals was to integrate as much as possible the outdoor spaces and the home’s interior.

The Gordon House, the lone Wright-designed home in Oregon, has received nearly $30,000 in grant funds to help upgrade the landscape in an effort to fulfill Wright’s vision.

The $29,575 was awarded to the Oregon Garden attraction by the Oregon Cultural Trust, which awarded $3.4 million in grants to 138 organizations on Aug. 15.

“This grant is going to be extremely helpful,” said Kathy Stemmler, the new manager of the facility. “Completing the outdoor room is going to be a boon for the garden, the city and the state.”

Kathy Stemmler, left, and Mairee McInnes on the steps of the Gordon House leading from the expansive living room windows to the outside.  A grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust will help the complete a landscaping plan.
Kathy Stemmler, left, and Mairee McInnes on the steps of the Gordon House leading from the expansive living room windows to the outside. A grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust will help the complete a landscaping plan.

Here is how Bruce Brown, a Gordon House board member and retired architect, described the plan:

“Regrading and replacing the main lawn area, adding an irrigation system, expanding the planting beds, adding paved walkways, improving the stormwater drainage, and relocating the Elsa Coleman Memorial Garden from the main lawn to the east circle garden.

“This has a couple of purposes; first is to fulfill the original design intent of Frank Lloyd Wright which includes an ‘outdoor room’ in the landscape. The second is to update the site to better accommodate the events held at the Gordon House like weddings and corporate functions.”

The master site plan for the Gordon House also calls for LED lights in the outdoor spaces, which will make it easier for the Gordon House to host night events. The landscaping also will expand the ways in which the public experiences the facility.

“A lot of folks just like to wander the grounds,” Stemmler said.

Stemmler and assistant manager Mairee McInnes also are launching a fundraising campaign to build on the grant. The Gordon House, like many indoor attractions, faced challenges during the COVID epidemic, and the pair are hoping to relaunch school tours, which have ranged from elementary schools to architecture students at Oregon and Oregon State universities.

The Gordon House tours
879 W. Main St., Silverton
Wednesday-Sunday noon, 1, 2 pm
Tickets: thegordonhouse.org/visit/
To volunteer or become a docent email [email protected]

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