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Granger house

by Jean-Pierre Louis last modified Feb 01, 2005 01:37 PM
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Granger house

Posted by Jean-Pierre Louis at January 24. 2005

I was watching the TV version of dwell yesterday and they had a piece on a Granger house here in Austin. I had driven by the house a few years ago but didn't know much about it and since it is in a neighborhood I can't afford I'd forgotten about it.

Are there any websites to get more information about Charles Granger, are there more of his houses in town? Austin has a lack of mid-century modern house and it is always fun to "discover" one.

By the way here is a link to some before pictures of the Granger house they had on Dwell, http://home.austin.rr.com/marknjeff/

Re: Granger house

Posted by Mark Meyer at January 24. 2005
JP,

Thanks for the find! That has always been one of my favorite MCM modern houses in Austin. It is located at 805 W 16th St, just South of MLK and one block West of West Ave.

Charles Granger was a partner in the firm of Fehr and Granger. Many of the schools in Austin that date from the 50's were designed by them, as well as many churches. Jon Chertok and I worked on an addition design for a great MCM chapel in Burnet by Fehr and Granger. Sadly our design was never built. The Episcopal Theological Seminary of the SouthWest at Duval and 32nd St. (just north of Campus) is by Fehr and Granger as well. They always did a nice job of integrating MCM ideals with Texas vernacular materials as well as truly off-the-shelf components. Their drawings are wonderful to go thru as well.

Although it is rare for them to do something so strictly modern Steinbomer and Associates has done a few nice renovations and additions to MCM residences in Austin, even another Fehr and Granger house somewhere overlooking Lake Austin.

Mark Meyer

Re: Granger house

Posted by Jean-Pierre Louis at January 24. 2005

I had seen the one on 16th years ago and had just filed it away, as soon as I saw it I knew exactly where it was.

I have seen the tarrytown remodel Steinbomer and Associates did. It is one of my favorite houses.

I need to find some land so I can build a house. By the way I really like your courtHOUSE designs.

Re: Granger house

Posted by Susan McElroy at January 30. 2005

My family has owned a Fehr Granger house since 1976. We bought it from the original owners who had it built by that firm in 1950. So it predates the Granger House by a couple of years. Some elements, like the (I used to think) incredibly weird wavy asbestos siding are present, but Granger seemed to prefer brick to the native limestone used in this house. I am not an architect but would be very interested in listening in on this forum. I want to preserve this wacky, lovely, off-beat (I thought!) house.

Re: Granger house

Posted by Mark Meyer at January 30. 2005

Susan,

I'd love to come see your house. I have a soft spot for Fehr and Granger's work. There is alos some academic interest on my part in seeing as much of their work as i can. Drop me a line if it is possible for me to come see your place.

How do you like living in your house? Do you find that the modern space planning suits your lifestyle, or does it make you do things differently than you would in a more traditional house? I think it could help some of the folks that are thinking about modern houses to hear from those intimately familiar with living in a modern space.

For what it is worth there are actually relatively few architects and designers on LiveModern. Most folks seem to be people such as yourself, that share a common interest in modern housing. We welcome you and hope you can provide some insight along the way. As the moderator of the Austin forum I'd like to welcome as many view-points to the discussion as possible. Please share any stories you may have about your house.

Mark

Re: Granger house

Posted by Susan McElroy at January 30. 2005

My parents (I was raised in Houston) bought this house because they wanted to retire in Austin (didn't happen--they started another business) and they wanted a place for their daughters (I and my sister) to finish our studies at UT in. We already lived here so were given the task of finding the ideal house. My dad, an engineer, had only two requirements and one absolute no-no. It had to be constructed--not faced--of stone or brick, it had to have ample parking, and no, absolutely NO WAY was it to have a flat roof. (The Leak Issue). We narrowed it down to three houses. A gorgeous 1920's neo-gothic north of campus, a charming 1940's two-story on Enfield, and another one that the agent didn't really even want to show us since it was a real monster, a white elephant, with no parking to speak of (not even room for a moving van to turn around in), a roof as flat as the Panhandle, and it was faced with something we didn't even know existed--asbestos corrugated siding. My dad came to visit and we showed him the FG house first. He didn't even want to look at the other two. This was HIS house, and my sister and I agreed. The real estate agent was baffled, of course. I could say a lot more, but suffice it to say our family has owned it ever since. Now my daughter and my sister's daughter are attending UT and living in the house. My mother passed away in October, and the whole family is kind of in and out of it as we care for my Dad.

Re: Granger house

Posted by Universal Constructor at January 30. 2005

JP, Mark, All.

Fun. I really enjoyed working with Mark on the Fehr and Granger Church project.

They really had a great modern take on their work. Straightforward, intelligent, real materials with an economy of use. Great understanding of the climate here in Austin as well.

Additions are a bit like surgery - you go in and see what you have that works - and then you try and plan as minimal an incision as possible.

Very easy to take architectural cues from their work; they really gave you good bones to work with.

Good eye JP. It's great stuff.

- Jonathan


Universal Joint Design Associates:
Full Service Design and Construction

Jonathan Chertok. Principal
AIA Design Associate
Austin, Texas 1 512 407 9628

www.universaljointdesign.com

Re: Granger house

Posted by Universal Constructor at January 30. 2005

Hi JP.

Another thought.

The Austin History Center could have a good bit of information on this if you really wanted to go digging. It is located just north of the downtown library. Check the hours first before you go, as they seem to have cut them back quite a bit.

Might also be worth making an advance call as well if you are going to check into it. Seems like some of the research assistants can focus on some things, while others will have other specialties. There's a lot to dig through over there.

Oh, and there is also an archive at the School of Architecture at UT that is located in the basement of the Architecture Library. Chances are they may have some more of those beautiful drawings they did. That stuff is so well-planned and executed they almost makes you wish you could go back to drafting. The archive might even have a list of projects.

- Jonathan


Universal Joint Design Associates:
Full Service Design and Construction

Jonathan Chertok. Principal
AIA Design Associate
Austin, Texas 1 512 407 9628

www.universaljointdesign.com

Re: Granger house

Posted by Mark Meyer at January 31. 2005

Fehr and Granger's stuff isn't archived at UT. I think the firm still exists but under a new name. Kilian Fehr (Arthur Fehr's son) was an architect as well, and went on to form Emerson, Fehr, Newton-Architects (with Chartier Newton who designed the 80's addition to Goldsmith Hall)and later Fehr and Emerson Architects. He passed away sometime fairly recently, so I'm nt usre what the status of the Fehr and Granger archives would be. It is possible they have been bequeathed to UT, and are simply not processed yet.


Interestingly enough Granger worked for Neutra's LA office, so I imagine that is where the strict mid-century modern stuff comes from.

Mark

Re: Granger house

Posted by Susan McElroy at January 31. 2005

Go to the Library of Congress website, Gottscho-Schleisner Collection, and search on Fehr Granger. Some very nice photos of interior/exterior of an FG house in Dallas, taken at time of completion. Really nice detail. Or just search Google for Gottscho-Schleisner Collection.

Beard house in Dallas

Posted by Mark Meyer at January 31. 2005
Thanks Susan, What a great find!!!

This link will take you to the photo collection.

Re: Granger house

Posted by Susan McElroy at February 01. 2005

Thanks for putting in the link. I got myself a Mac for Xmas and some stuff doesn't work like my PC, like inserting links.

I would really like to have somebody other than a real estate agent or builder see the place. It's kind of hidden and people who find it are usually surprised. Email me at smcelroy@austin.rr.com.

Our place seems to me to hearken back to the earlier years of the modern movement; to my uneducated eyes (at least architecturally) it reminds me more of the houses of the 30's than to say, Eames or the Case Study houses. When we got it, the kitchen was original, with horribly worn cork tiles and and ancient stove, etc. Unfortunately, my Dad gutted that; but the changes he made might not be that disliked by Granger; being an industrial/electical engineer, he had an industrial sensibility kind of attuned to the house. I'll try to send a photo. In the Dwell show, when they bio Granger they show a couple of BW stills. One of them made my daughter and I yelp--it looks just like a detail of this house. I'd like to get a copy of the program and focus on that still.

BTW, apparently Granger also designed O-Henry Jr. High in Tarrytown.

Re: Granger house

Posted by Universal Constructor at February 01. 2005

Here's a very old image of the original Fehr and Granger Church in Burnet. It's a xerox of an old photo, but hopefully you can make out a field of sunflowers, a congregation member on a tractor, and the F + G Butterfly roof in the background.

Thought to also post the link to a brief write-up on the addition of a Classroom Building and Chapel (lower left hand corner in model photo) that Mark and I worked on. The existing buildings are in the upper right corner.

http://www.oliverlabs.net/other/universaljoint/welcome.php?menu=2submenu=3subsubmenu=16

Knowing that there was a Neutra link to their work is very interesting indeed.

Sincerely,

Jonathan


Universal Joint Design Associates:
Full Service Design and Construction

Jonathan Chertok. Principal
AIA Design Associate
Austin, Texas 1 512 407 9628

www.universaljointdesign.com

 
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