On July 9th, I returned to Silverton, Oregon, to go on a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright house. When I think of simplicity in architecture, I think of Frank Lloyd Wright. I recently featured a view from the road of the Gordon House. Limited tours of the inside are available by reservation only.
Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright House
Our 45-minute tour began in the great room. Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass doors flanked towering ceilings. They opened to allow a welcome cross breeze on this warm summer day. As in all Wright houses, a fireplace served as a focal point. Red concrete slabs with radiant heat covered the floors, and they made the walls from concrete blocks. Built-in cabinets, desks, and tables are in nearly every room.
The design featured the fretwork seen here on the interior and exterior of the house. One of the workers joked how he’d gone through all the router bits in the state cutting the house’s fretwork. That was long before laser cutters!
This Frank Lloyd Wright house in Silverton, is the only one designed by the well-known architect in Oregon. The Gordon House was designed in 1957 and completed in 1963. When new owners wanted to tear it down in 1997, it was moved from Wilsonville to Silverton. It was carefully refurbished and opened to the public in 2002. It looks right at home, surrounded by stately oak trees.
This house was designed as part of the Usonian series, structures meant to provide affordable housing for working class people.
Though I only looked at the Gordon House from a distance, private tours are available of the inside for a small fee. For a higher fee, up to four people can spend the night in this beautiful house.
Here’s a peek of the inside and outside of the house. I hope to go on the tour soon to get a closer look. 🙂
I did a lot of looking up in Burns, Oregon on my trip in April 2023. The main purpose of my trip was to look for birds on Harney County Migratory Bird Festival tours. However, I arrived a day early to participate in the Downtown Walking History Tour.
A very short history of Burns, Oregon
Burns was officially established in 1884 and incorporated in 1889. The Northern Paiute, or their ancestors, lived here for thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers. Harney County, where Burns is located, is the largest county in Oregon and ninth largest in the nation. This sparsely populated county is 10,226 square miles in size. The population of Burns, its largest city, was 2,757 in 2021.
Our tour guide told us about the history of buildings along the main road. Sometimes she pointed out areas where no building currently exists. Unfortunately, fires destroyed many buildings in years past. It is ironic that the town of Burns had so many fires.
Looking up in Burns
While I listened to facts about many of the buildings we passed, I kept looking up in Burns. My attention wandered, and I focused on the architecture overhead.
Some of the buildings had fallen into disrepair.
Others retained parts of the original structure with updates, like modern windows.
The Federal Building housed the Post Office at one time. I think it was once the tallest building in Burns.
This bridge with a view takes you to the entrance of the Portland Japanese Garden. The bridge’s glass walls bring you closer to the natural world beneath you. Straight lines contrast with the curves and textures of the surrounding forest. When you ascend the stairs and exit the path, you’ll enter the Cultural Center. With its minimalistic design, it stands out yet blends in at the same time.
Vista House is a unique landmark sitting high above the Columbia River about a half hour east of Portland, Oregon. Perched atop Crown Point, 733 feet above the Columbia River, this site serves as a rest stop and observatory for people traveling the Historic Columbia River Highway.
Assistant Highway Engineer Samuel Lancaster was the supervisor of the Columbia River Highway project in 1913. It was his idea to offer a place that would make the natural wonders of the Columbia River Gorge more accessible to visitors. Lancaster thought Crown Point would be an ideal site for “an observatory from which the view both up and down the Columbia could be viewed in silent communion with the infinite.”
Is this a post about the burgeoning marijuana business in Bend? No! I’m impressed by the local materials used in some of the buildings here and The Herb Center is an interesting example. It’s a small building covered in rocks including lots of obsidian. It was known as the Stone House. Perhaps now it could be called the Stoner House (?)
The Downing Building used to house the Downing Hotel and Cafe. It was built in 1920. It was made from local tuff and pumice blocks, bricks, yellow pine, and Douglas’ fir. When doing restoration work on the building in the 1980’s, a secret door was located and it may have connected to the brothel next door.
The Des Chutes Historical Museum is currently housed in the Reid School building. It is an impressive building made from pink volcanic tuff blocks. This was the first modern school in the area and it contained ten classrooms, an auditorium, indoor toilets, and central heating. It opened in 1914 and 241 pupils were enrolled there.
New Taggart Hotel
The New Taggart Hotel was built in 1911 by J.B. Goodrich. The front has rectangular blocks lined up perfectly with partial arches around the doors and windows. I thought the back of the building was interesting because the stonework is less concise. It’s wonderfully imperfect.
These are just a few examples of interesting architecture using local materials. Be sure to take a closer look when you are in Bend.