A. D. Stenger
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A. D. StengerPosted by Chuck Voelter at May 08. 2005
I'm very excited to have found this message board! I've not made many contacts in the Austin area yet so...
I guess I started to 'live modern' at birth; my dad is an architect and I grew up in a house he designed in '65 that would certainly be described today as 'mid-century' (a term I never really heard until ten years or so ago). Here's a link to a pic on my website: http://www.chuckvoelter.com/templehouse.jpg
My fiance and I were very fortunate last year to purchase an A.D. Stenger house in the Zilker/Barton Hills area. We're in the process of adding a third bedroom and bathroom to the house and I'm finally hanging drywall. I'm gonna bring it in @ 100.00 sf - that's with materials and finishes that match (or surpass) the '53 original; 2'x2' scored/polished concrete floors, Andersen casements, solid 4x6 beams with tg, etc. I'm not an architect but I am a film production designer with grad. school for such under my belt (including some engineering actually - don't want to hurt any actors with scenery, heh heh), so I have some skills - drafting, illustrating, budgeting and so on. As a young man I apprenticed in almost all of the trades eventually becoming a fairly skilled cabinetmaker so I know how to build things well. I've just returned to Texas last year after seven in Los Angeles where I became a full-fledged modernist fan, witnessing Neutra, Schindler, Neff, Lautner, et. al. I even worked for a short while in the Neutra office building in Silverlake, drawing for architect John Sofio.
Besides just wanting to introduce myself, I'm wondering if I could get some feedback or information on A.D. Stenger, anecdotal or otherwise. There's not a heck of a lot out there on him but what I have learned is pretty interesting. I'm kicking around the idea of compiling a biography of Stenger and his work (I mean, any guy that lassos a polar bear...) I haven't yet gone 'door-to-door' to talk to other owners but plan on doing so. I'm interested in the perception of his work by contemporary architects here in Austin.
I know Stenger was a builder as well as architect and repeated his plans occasionally (I've found three others similar to ours). I've also found a street in Rollingwood that has house after house that seem to have Stenger motifs but appear 'watered-down' and less suited to their lots than the houses in BH. I've heard that Stenger got gov't home loans approved for houses with exposed rafter ceilings and other architectural 'diversities' that were previously eschewed such as not having a door between kitchen and dining areas, etc. Does anyone know anything about this?
Anyway, I'm happy to have found the site and the board. I'm looking forward to hearing from some of you.
Re: A. D. StengerPosted by Mark Meyer at May 09. 2005
Glad to hear your story. I've been wondering about the architect/builder of the homes on Rundell. I'm sure those are the Stenger homes of which you speak. That is the best enclave of modern homes in all of Austin. You are quite lucky to have one to yourself.
Here is a small brief on the original development of Barton Hills.
You'll have to come out to our next Austin Modernists meeting and share some pics of your place. I know I would love to check it out.
Re: A. D. StengerPosted by Hayden at May 09. 2005
Lol.. well there you go Mark (he's mentioned this section of homes several times at our meetups.)
Chuck, would also like to check it all out. Hope to see you at our next gathering!
Crazy. I'm shocked that this guy isn't better known...
I knew nothing of the man until we found our house; I quickly started looking up and down the surrounding streets and it all fell into place. My fiance and I were renting in the area and had looked at a half-dozen houses which all seemed small and overpriced. One day she was out for a jog and saw the sign that had been put in the yard only an hour before. While it was small it wasn't overpriced and we knew what it was. We made an offer before it even hit the MLS. In the following week they got six backup offers but we had charmed the owners by then (had to wrench the tools out of his hand - stop please, lol...) who told us what they knew about Stenger - they had a laminated copy of the 'main' drawing sheet (plan, plot, 2 elevations, 2 sections) which I talked them into letting me take (on day 1). I had it copied at Miller and I had the addition roughed in that night, the house 'told' me exactly what to do, it was wild. You're right Mark, we got incredibly lucky, we're grateful on a daily basis. Of course, we both just turned 41 and think we deserve it
Anyway, I'd love to come to the gathering, when and where? San Jose hotel still? I have tons of digital pics I've taken all the way through construction, I'll try to edit them down before showing them (would take tooo long).
I hope I haven't opened my own pandora's box here...I could spend all day giving free tours of our house! In fact I need to get back out there instead of typing this.
Re: A. D. StengerPosted by craig denham at May 09. 2005
I came very close to buying an original, untouched Stenger home in Rollingwood on Brady Ln. The home was built with a sweeping, curved plywood roof for an airline pilot (the design being inspired by aviation in some way). The multilevel house had ceilings at all angles and heights. Nice stone work, wood veneer walls and a great cement screen and planter in the entryway. A.D. himself lived near the house on the next street over (he has since passed away). I'm glad I have lots of photos inside and out, because the eventual buyer's remodeled the interior extensively and not in a good way. They also have plans to add a new, more typical roof. I'll try to upload a photo.
1600 sq feet was too small for me, so I bought another larger mid-century home around the corner. Mine was built in 1955 and is best described as an 'atomic ranch'. Very, very long and low with many modern touches inside and out — wrapping interior stone walls, large casement windows, exposed beams. There are a few flat roof and very low pitched roofed homes adjacent to mine...along North Peake Rd and also down Rollingwood dr... They could possibly be early Stengers, but don’t seem to have his more daring features (maybe somebody else?). His homes are mainly on Brady Ln, Ridgewood and his actual home is located on Sugar Shack.
I've always wondered about the interior of that house Craig, I'd love to see your photos someday. According to an article that ran in the Statesman after he passed away, he went to the UT architecture school but never graduated, preferring to spend his time in the aeronautical engineering dept., hence his preference for cantilevers and long, low angled roofs.
His house on Sugar Shack was completed sometime in the late eighties, his last project and seems to be all about the cantilevered space...it's somewhat symmetrical and has ornamentation his earlier houses lacked. I've spoken to his widow, Jean, and she's invited me over to see the aforementioned polar bear which apparantly has graced their home since the 60's when he shot it (that came shortly after the lassoing).
Mid-Century in AustinPosted by Jean-Pierre Louis at May 12. 2005
Speaking of mid-century modern homes in Austin, does anyone know anything about the houses on La Ronde Circle? It is a small cul-de-sac of of 45th Street and Chiappero Trail.
Re: A. D. StengerPosted by Ben Phenix at June 06. 2005
New to Austin (arrived a week ago), so I was out for a drive getting a feel for the city. Came across a clutch of houses and I knew they were Stengers upon sight based on the desciptions here (I didn't remember the Rundell street name until looking it up later).
Took a few photos which you can see here:
One was a house in the cul de sac but it doesn't seem to be in the style, not sure if is a brutal remodel or a later addition.
From the road it was hard to tell what the interior or rear would be like, but these three where probably my favorite:
very sorry to have missed the last meet-up - I had the kids and could NOT find a babysitter...how was it and when might the next one be?
yup that's them. besides the dozen or so that are all next to each other on rundell and airole way there are ten or so more scattered in singles and doubles within a quarter-mile radius (mine being one of those). then, approx. a half-mile away on dexter st. there are a dozen or so more all in a row with, again, ten or so more scattered about.
it's hard to whether some of the houses in the neighborhood are Stengers whose features have been diluted (for the more timid owner) or just have features that were 'copied' by other builders. my best guess is that it's about 50/50
re: your pics; of the 'three' you posted i understand that #2 has been badly remodelled inside (outside not maintained very well either), and #3 was, I believe, Texas humorist John Henry Faulk's home for many years (it's one of my favorites).
- in the middle of polishing and staining my floor periwinkle blue yee-haw! only millwork and paint left to go....
I saw a few others that may have been the scattered ones, but only took pictures of the one below. There were a few newer modernish builds around as well. I was telling my wife there was much oh so close, oh so far away types of designs. Like this one: [url href=http://glitchpop.net/stenger/123_2381.JPG]new developement[/url]
Too bad on the poor remodel, though it doesn't surprise me. My wife and I are new to the area, but we are currently weighing between finding an older jem to restore or building new. We have somewhat unique requirements, so new very well may be the way we go. The older mid-century modernism we like tends to be a bit on the smaller size.
While the banks would be happy to give us much more, we are going to try to stay below $350k (I'd like to get that whole income/mortage ratio back to traditional ranges). Were we to build anew, finding the right lot seems to be the biggest barrier. It seems like many of the city lots are wrapped up by investor/builders doing infill and multiplex type projects.
My preference is to stay within the city more or less.
Just missed the meet up myself. Hope to be able to attend the next one.
we are going to try to stay below $350k...
i hear the sound of chops-licking from the many talented architects that frequent this board...
btw, welcome to austin ben. judging by the mortgage/income ratio comment; just in from SoCal?
just up from that last house you posted is a dead-end street, the first house on which is a complete remodel/addition of a Stenger that's pretty radical, architect did a nice job...
btw, welcome to austin ben. judging by the mortgage/income ratio comment; just in from SoCal?
Yes, sorta. My wife was going to grad school at USC. I travelled back and forth between Seattle and LA for a year plus and then worked in LA directly for about 9 months. Also spent some time in DC. Basically, the over-heated markets of the past 5 years. Currently telecommute back to LA via cafes (sitting in Flightpath right now).
We never bought in LA as it seemed completely out of control the price/quality factor. It was scary and we were probably better off than the vast majority who were buying. Seattle is better but not great either if you actually want to stay in the city.
I look at how we want to spend our lives and plan for the future and spending more than 3x income presents an unbalanced that I would prefer to avoid. In addition, I want to ensure that we set up a structure that doesn't require having to have both of us work or provides inflexiblity about what jobs we can take from an income standpoint. For example, I'd like to work with small businesses, do more highschool coaching and perhaps some teaching. Hard to do that if the mortage requires my current income level.
Enjoying Austin so far it is the just about the right size. I was surprised, and very pleased, by how green the city is and so far the people I come across have been very nice.
I hear the sound of chops-licking from the many talented architects that frequent this board.
Heh. They would also be quite happy to hear that I have no issue with new materials and building methods. In fact I am very interested in many of them. I also spend quality time with my Lautner books (early/mid period being my favorite of his).
I've been keeping an eye on this board for a while now and will certainly be talking as many people as possible in the coming months.
Re: A. D. StengerPosted by Mark Meyer at June 07. 2005
Yes, Ben, welcome.
We need to schedule another meet-up soon as the last one didn't really happen. I was there early to hold down a table, but no one ever seemed to show up. I'm not sure if that was because the San Jose was so crowded (bachelorette party at the big table and the weather was nice) or if no one saw me sitting there looking as designery as I could, or if everyone had prior commitments. Hayden did ring me up around 9 or so saying he had a bunch of stuff to do and that he was done and seeing if the meeting was going on, but by that time I'd vacated the table and moved on.
So if anyone has any ideas about times for the next Austin Modernists meeting please post them over on the Austin Modernists thread. It might also help if we compiled an email list/contact list for future event reminders. If you like, anyone interested in getting email reminders about the Austin Modernists meetings, should email me and I'll compile a list and send out reminders to the group, that way we can collect RSVPs. It looks like we are reaching a critical mass of folks in Austin on these boards. That makes me VERY happy.
BTW, Ben, that is one of my favorite mid-century houses in Austin, other than the Rundell houses and the few houses on la Ronde (just North of 45th St between Burnet and MoPac). Ben, have you been looking for land in any particular areas? I'm always curious to know what folks are finding in terms of lots or affordable tear-downs. It is true that the scattered infill developers are making a run on most of the good lots, but there are still a few hidden jems that pop up.
I took a bit on the other side of Lamar. I'd be remiss to name the area. I did see some nice large lots (mostly with houses on them) over around Del Curto/Clawson. There was this great section as Del Curto went down a small hill and bridge and it was very rural all of a sudden. There were houses (none with any design sense to speak of) there and each were on half an acre give or take. Also saw horrible new development crap (Cinnamon Path still gives me shivers). Other than that, I only have ventured around Hyde Park, where we live, a little. Only been here a week, so I have much more exploring to do. I am always game for recommendations.
What I look for is character/funk, artist, and an up-and-coming vibe. I very much prefer a larger than .10 acre lot. I am not into trimmed lawn for miles, but I like natural landscaping and room for gardens.
Barton Creek was nice but seemed more or less finished as a developed area (I saw next to no empty lots for example). I'd only go there if I could grab a Stenger or such under the right conditions.
I've yet to be East (area 3 or 5) so that will probably be next.
Right now I am in scouting and assesment mode. My timing always seems to be terrible (I missed out on both the Seattle and DC boom and was years too late for LA), but Austin even in its current market presents more opportunies than I've been afforded elsewhere. We are staying put for the next year (lease and all) but clearly if we side with building the process requires much more lead time and planning than buying an exisitng place. My stuff just came off the truck today and isnt' even unpacked and here I am talking about the next place.
As for the next meet-up, count me in. I'll email you as well. I also can offer hosting services for days and could run a mailing list if that is useful.
Re: A. D. StengerPosted by Ben Phenix at June 14. 2005
Re: A. D. StengerPosted by Chuck Voelter at January 13. 2007
ben gave me a heads up on an a.d. stenger article in tomorrow's statesman.
i talked to the reporter and they sent a photographer to my house weeks ago but i've heard nothing since then.hope they got my good side.
i hope everyone is doing well!