Part II picks up in 1911, a year which marked the beginning of Gill's transition from a practice based almost solely in San Diego to one more focused on Los Angeles. During the tumultuous selection process for the lead architect for the Panama California Exposition in late 1910 and early 1911 Gill was busy with the completion of the Miltimore House in South Pasadena (see below)
and the first building at the Bishop's School for Girls in La Jolla. He also received bids and broke ground on the National City High School and Bishop's School Auditorium projects
After a concerted lobbying effort headed by the Olmsted brothers, Bertram Goodhue was selected over a greatly disappointed Gill in early February to lead the Exposition's architectural effort.
After the Olmsteds, assisted by Elmer Grey and Myron Hunt, were able to open doors for him at
the eleventh hour, Goodhue quite impressed the Exposition Boardwith his considerable Spanish Colonial Revival portfolio, exactly the style they had in mind for the Exposition's architectural theme. They were further dazzled by the eye-catching 1901 publication Spanish-Colonial Architecture in Mexico illustrated with Goodhue's drawings. (Various correspondence in the Panama-California Exposition Digital Archive, Olmsted Papers.). As a consolation prize of sorts Gill was named "Associate Architect" with nebulous duties.
In early September 1911 the Olmsted's resigned from their Exposition commission over an ongoing site-planning dispute with Goodhue and the Exposition's Director of Works Frank Allen. ("Olmsted Quits in a Huff," Architect and Engineer, November 1911, p. 101). Out of sympathy with Olmsted, Gill's patron and client George Marston also resigned his position as chair of the Exposition’s Buildings and Grounds Committee. By then Gill must have realized that he had been aced out of a position of any significance despite being well-connected to some of the Board members, especially Marston. This coupled with his differences in design philosophy with Goodhue caused him to also cut all ties with the Exposition by the fall of 1911. (Author's note: For the most detailed analysis of Gill's brief involvement with the Exposition see Amero, Richard, "The Question of Irving Gill's Role in the Design of the Administration Building in Balboa Park," San Diego History Center).
Fascinatingly, sometime in March of 1911 Gill was commissioned to design a cottage for the Olmsted brothers' sister Marion for a piece of property she owned at the southeast corner of Randolph and Stockton (now Arbor Dr.) Streets in San Diego's Mission Hills neighborhood. It has not as yet been determined how this commission came about. Perhaps she had met Gill in 1900-01 while he was overseeing the construction of her Uncle Albert's mansion "Wildacre" in Newport, Rhode Island and/or at one of the numerous social events surrounding the planning for the Exposition during the winter of 1910-11. She also may have been introduced to Gill by fellow artist Alice Klauber at a local art opening. In any event the house was never built and the land became the site of the Francis W. Parker School which was founded in 1912.
Marion Olmsted Cottage elevations, Stockton and Hooker Streets, April 1911.Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Irving Gill Collection.
Marion Olmsted Cottage, 1911, unbuilt. From Gill, Irving J., "The Home of the Future: New Architecture of the West: Small Homes for a Great Country," The Craftsman, May 1916, p. 140. Rendering by Lloyd Wright ca. 1912 as cited inLloyd Wright, Architect by David Gebhard and Hariette Von Breton, UC-Santa Barbara Art Galleries, 1971, p. 70.
Perhaps Marion received an offer for her property she couldn't refuse from the Parker School founders, Clara Sturges Johnson and her architect husband WilliamTempleton Johnson, themselves recent arrivals to the West Coast. The Johnsons' nieces had attended the original Francis W. Parker School in Chicago, founded eleven years earlier. The Johnsons sought to recreate the same progressive educational environment as the original institution in direct competition with Bishop Joseph H. Johnson's Bishop's School. (Wikiwand). They purchased Marion Olmsted's site in early 1912 where Johnson designed a very Gill-like stripped down Mission Revival style school on the property (see below). It is extremely ironic that Gill's Olmsted commission went unbuilt and was replaced by a school very similar in size and purpose as his 1909 Bishop's Day School (see more on the Bishop Schoolsin Part I).
Francis W. Parker School, Hooker and Stockton Streets, San Diego, 1912. William Templeton Johnson, architect. From Lichtman, Ethel Mintzer, "The Zest for Learning: Founding and Early Years of Francis School," San Diego History Quarterly, Summer, 1913.
Summer brought the prestigious Timken Residence commission which most likely came about through the largess of Homer Laughlin and/or Harrison Albright as described in Part I of this essay and reiterated below. (See "Timken" in Part I).
Timken Building, 6th and E Streets, San Diego, Harrison Albright, 1909. From San Diego History Center.
While the Timken Building was under construction Timken's wife Fredericka (see above) passed away in late 1908 followed by Timken himself in early 1909. ("Millionaire Carriage Manufacturer Expires," LAH, March 17, 1909, p. II-2). Frequent San Diego winter visitors, the Timkens led by Henry Timken, Jr. traveled from the Midwest to settle their father's affairs. Henry, Jr. met Albright and through him almost certainly Laughlin and Gill. This ultimately resulted in Timken, Jr. commissioning Gill to design a grand residence at 335 Walnut Ave. around the corner from his father's estate at 3430 4th St. in May or June 1911 (see below). ("Contracts Awarded: San Diego [Timken House]," SWCM, July 1, 1911, p. 11).
"After careful study of the architectural work to be done at Torrance we yesterday appointed Mr. Irving J. Gill, of San Diego, our Consulting and Supervising Architect, which appointment I feel sure will meet with your hearty approval, as I recollect your strong endorsement of his work. I have, in company with Mr. Bennett, personally visited many of the houses built by Mr. Gill and have become quite enthusiastic about his type of construction, especially the interior work. Mr. Gill will give practically his entire time to the work and at a very moderate compensation. He will have an office with us and make his office in Los Angeles. I have advised the other architects, who furnished us sketches in competition, of this appointment and made payment to them in the amount agreed upon. In addition I have written Mr. Farquhar a personal letter explaining more fully than to the others." (Henry H. Sinclair to Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., April 16, 1912. Olmsted Papers, Torrance Historical Society).
"Under the arrangement just perfected he will have full charge of the architectural work on all the buildings to be erected by the Land Company of Torrance. Mr, Gill has established offices in the Title Insurance Building at Fifth and Spring Streets. At present he is preparing plans for the new railroad station to be erected at Torrance. Among other buildings that are to be built as soon as plans are out are a city building, a hotel, administration building, stores, rooming-houses, and about 100 cottages. The land company is considering the erection of only fireproof buildings, but this plan has not as yet been definitely settled upon." ("Select Architect," LAT, April 28, 1912, p. V-1 and "Building: Station," SWCM, April 13, 1912, pp. 16-17).
"I therefore went to Architect Gill of this city. Woolley can tell you more of him than I can write. He is a good sound man with ideas and ideals. He is, to say the least, appreciative of your work. ... To the inspiration he gained at that time, he lays a great deal of his success. ... I had a talk with him, a fine talk. The upshot of it was that he would turn over all of his client's landscape work to me, give me a desk in his office, all the material and aids I needed with free reign to handle the matter as I saw fit. With the proviso always...that I receive my pay when I made the department pay. Don't laugh and say that I was a silly ass for taking it up for I am not. I know what lies in this particular job, I know what an opportunity is, and I seized it. I have been in the work head over heels for the last week. I have already had two propositions handed me to lay out and handle and more in view at 10%. ... but I don't get any 10% until the gardens are under construction or near completion which will be sometime next spring. ... I wouldn't let the opportunity slip [by] me without giving it a good six months tryout for anything in the world. It will mean the making of me if I can hang on." (Lloyd Wright to Frank Lloyd Wright, n.d., ca. early September 1911. Frank Lloyd Wright Correspondence, Getty Research Institute and Alofsin, p. 342, n. 52).
Not long after going to work for Gill, Lloyd was joined by brother John in the Elk Apartments (see end of Part I). (My Father, p. 61). After a brief stint working for a paving contractor in Portland, Oregon, John made his way south to move in with older brother Lloyd as he was acclimating in Gill's office and perhaps working on the installation of the landscaping for the Timken House then nearing completion (see above). By then Gill's nephew Louis had also made his way to San Diego to go to work for his uncle and lived with him in his personal cottage at 3719 Albatross St. (see below). Lloyd brought his beloved cello to San Diego, John brought his violin and Gill bought a piano for nephew Louis and the three played for hours at a time in Gill's cottage.
John aimlessly ran through a series of odd jobs including hawking advertising posters designed by Lloyd. (My Father, p. 61). The nervy nineteen year old soon found employment with the Pacific Building Company as a draftsman where he coincidentally worked on the plans for the Barney House across the street from Gill's house for George Marston (see below). (Seventh Avenue Historic Home Tour, Save Our Heritage Organization, 2010, pp. 18-19). (Author's note: Also working for the same company around this time was Gill's former field superintendent Richard Requa. Gill's influence imbued the work of former employee and partner Frank Mead and his former field Requa who designed a house next door in 1913 for the Barney's son and daughter-in-law.).
After a modicum of success repetitiously drawing bungalow elevations he decided to try his hand in a real architectural office. Possibly trading on his name, the then wannabe architect John quickly found menial office boy work with the busy Laughlin Annex architect Harrison Albright in late 1911 (see below). (My Father, p. 63).
Perhaps one of the Gill landscape projects Lloyd was alluding to in his September 1911 letter to his father was related to Laughlin Park, a planned subdivision of land Homer Laughlin, Sr. began accumulating in 1890 with an initial purchase from James Lick, founder of the Lick Observatory. His holdings eventually grew to 33 acres total and became known as Laughlin Hill situated between Los Feliz Blvd. and Franklin Avenue in Hollywood (see below). Broadway Department Store owner Arthur Letts had purchased the adjacent 70 acres to the east in 1904.
Sometime in the 1890s Laughlin, Sr. hired noted East Coast landscape architect Nathan F. Barrett to develop a landscape plan which, over a 12-year period, resulted in over 50,000 trees and shrubs being planted on the property. The hundreds of olive trees that were planted were likely obtained through the largess of the Miltimore Ranch in the San Fernando Valley. Laughlin had originally envisioned building a palatial family home on the site but the death of his wife in 1909 altered the plan. In 1911 a still distraught Laughlin, Sr. sold his prized acreage to a syndicate headed by his son who formed the Laughlin Park Company. Laughlin, Sr. passed away on January 13, 1913. (Author's note: A San Diego colleague of Gill's, San Diego horticulturalist Kate Sessions, came to Los Angeles to consult with Barrett during his 1902 Laughlin Hill site visit. "Bennial Notes," LAH, May 9, 1902, p. 9).
"The architecture probably will be largely what we are accustomed to call Italian, but only because Italian architecture has been developed along lines of fundamentals. In other words, Italian architecture—so called—has had a real reason for doing things, whether from a decorative or practical point of view." (Ibid).Out of respect for his father's labor of love, Laughlin directed that Gill's "Vistas" design take special care to minimize disruption to the existing landscape infrastructure created for his father by Barrett. Likely very educational for fledgling landscapist Lloyd, Laughlin also hired Knapp & Woodward, civil and landscape engineers, "to complete a botanical map ... drawn to scale, showing contour lines in every five feet of elevation. It shows the position of every tree and shrub, its size and botanical name." ("Unique Vistas at Laughlin Park," LAH, November 8, 1913, p. 14).
“The houses to be built in Laughlin Park will be generally of plaster, fireproof construction, with red tile roofs, this red tile forming a natural and practical medium as it will give another primary color to the landscape, while the white of the houses will heighten the toning of the natural colors," said Irving J. Gill, who has charge of the landscape plans." ("Sewer Connection for Laughlin Park," LAH, December 13, 1913, p. 17).
Coincidentally, Corbett had in 1910 completed a palatial home in Berkeley Square for real estate mogul C. Wesley Roberts who had in July of 1912 become one of the financial backers for Gill's Concrete Building and Investment Company discussed later below.
The well-connected Corbett would also design a house for earlier-mentioned Gill client Frederick B. Lewis in 1914 (see "Lewis" in Part I). Lewis's rapid rise through the ranks at the Southern California Edison Company and steady income from his Gill-designed Lewis Court units in Sierra Madre enabled the construction of the 12-room, 2-story, $7,000 house at the then tony address of 1754 Camino Palmero in the heart of Hollywood (see upper left above).
"Again I repeat that it is time to make our exhibition here. I will have a few local gardens of my own to show now. Dodd's, Upman's and Dr. Janss' and I have some ideas in regard to the introduction of plants that might prove valuable in the display of the two phases of the work." (Letter from Lloyd Wright, then in Los Angeles, to FLW, after his return to Taliesin, n.d. but likely ca. June, 1915. Copyright Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation 1990.).
As previously mentioned in Part I, Garbutt was also a close friend of Homer Laughlin, Sr. through their Automobile Club connections. It was thus most likely through Laughlin and/or Dodd that Lloyd met Garbutt (and possibly De Mille) and was put in charge of Paramount's set design and drafting department for much of 1916-17. (Lloyd Wright, Architect by David Gebhard and Harriette Von Breton, Art Galleries, UC-Santa Barbara, 1971, p. 22). (For much more on the Dodd-Wright relationship see my "SWMZW" and "Firenze Gardens, 5218-5230 Sunset Blvd., William J. Dodd, Architect, 1920"). For much on Garbutt see my "Playa del Rey: Speed Capital of the World, 1910-1913").
"In the early part of 1912 Mr. Gill was chosen by the Dominguez Land Company, a great California corporation, to design and supervise the construction of a model industrial city. This town, known as Torrance, lies near Los Angeles, California, and will be made up of factories of various description, administration buildings and all that goes to make an ideal manufacturing or industrial city, in one division, while another is set aside as the residence section and will be made up of the homes, schools, library, parks, children's playgrounds; the whole having paved streets and every modern facility, which will add to the convenience, beauty and sanitation of the place.
Mr. Gill has devoted himself to this work to the exclusion of practically everything else, although he conducts his offices in San Diego and holds commissions for many important structures in various parts of Southern California." ("Irving Gill," Press Reference Library, Notables of the West, Vol. I, International News Service, 1913, p. 571 (PRL)).
Irving Gill buildings, Torrance, From Bennett, Ralph, "The Industrial City of Torrance, California," Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer, October 30, 1913, p. 871.
"Suppose we are planning to build three or four houses in a row, each on its own lot. The old way was to build each without respect to the construction of the house next door. Under the new plan, the Torrance plan if you choose, each house ... is built, say, on the south property line, with its "blind" side to the south. Along this side of the house, in the front room, we will put our fireplace with stained glass, opaque window lights. This gives light into the house but does not permit any espionage by neighbors. Back of the living room, and still on the south side, let us place the bathroom. In that bathroom we will put a skylight, that can be opened to the light and air. What is the result of building a series of houses after this plan? Each house has its blind side, but each house also has an open side that is absolutely private. It Is toward this open side that the dining room and bedrooms are faced in order that they may be kept open and fresh without danger of intrusion on the part of inquisitive neighbors." ("Model Houses Being Built at City of Torrance; All Are of Concrete and Have Many Unusual Construction Features," LAH, July 12, 1912, p. 5).
Like the entrance bridge to the Panama-California Exposition, the above iconic Southern Pacific Railroad bridge has been erroneously attributed to Gill. The bridge has even received landmark status citing Gill as the architect. The errors can be attributed to Esther McCoy's pioneering writings on Gill in 1958 (Irving Gill, 1870-1936, Los Angeles County Museum exhibition catalog, p. 34) and 1960 (Five California Architects, p. 86). The Torrance bridge was designed by Torrance Chief Engineer Ralph Bennett in 1914. ("Concrete Bridge Begun at Torrance," LAH, May 16, 1914, p. 15. For more Gill mythology initiated by McCoy see my "Gill-Aiken" and "Selected Publications of Esther McCoy, Patron Saint and Myth Maker for Southern California Architectural Historians").
s cited inLloyd Wright, Architect by David Gebhard and Hariette Von Breton, UC-Santa Barbara Art Galleries, 1971, p. 70).
Rendering by Lloyd Wright ca. 1912.Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Irving Gill Collection.
Exhilarated by every aspect of the experience of designing and building his first project John committed to a career in architecture and began beseeching his father for an apprenticeship. On July 4, 1912 he wrote:
"Now that I have charge of Harrison Albright's San Diego office - I will ask you, probably for the last time, for a position with you.
1st, Because you are my father.
2nd, I admire your architecture.
3rd, Because I am and will be able to help you." (Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan and the Skyscraper by Donald Hoffmann, Dover, 1998, p. 48).
"Mr. Albright has over a million dollars worth of work under construction in San Diego at the present time and his Theater Bldg., 6 stories high, covering nearly a square block, will be finished by the middle of month. His work is reinforced concrete and he takes nothing under $100,000. I am sending a few pictures of our little house. (Mr. Gill's work)." (Ibid).
"Mr. Otto Wagner, Architect
Most Honorable Sir,
Your esteemed address I received from my father Frank Lloyd Wright, and allow me at this time to ask you if you have a position open in your highly respected house.
I am 21 years old, have a few years of practical experience in architecture and would gladly be prepared to send you drawing(s) or photographs, which will give you a sense of my abilities.
Respectfully yours,John fondly remembered Wagner's prompt reply "... come on..." Buoyed by Wagner's acceptance he proudly sent his father photos of the Wood House and Workingmen's Hotel rendering and asked for help in buying a ticket to Vienna. Wright telegraphed back from Japan or San Francisco: "Meet me in Los Angeles in two weeks ... I'd like to know what Otto Wagner can do for you that your own father can't do!" (My Father, p. 67).
John Lloyd Wright
March 30, 1913" (Alofsin, n. 141, p. 339).
During this exciting formative period in their lives the Wright brothers were joined in February 1913 by their father's former Oak Park apprentice Barry Byrne (see above). Since leaving Wright's studio in 1908 Byrne had spent a year in fellow former Wright employee Walter Burley Griffin's Steinway Hall office. His next three years were spent in partnership with another fellow Wright apprentice Andrew Willatzen in Seattle producing Wright-inspired Prairie Style residential architecture. Perhaps John had connected with the duo in the Pacific Northwest before joining Lloyd in San Diego in the fall of 1911.
By the time Byrne arrived in Southern California the Wright Brothers and Gill were spending much more time in Los Angeles than San Diego. Barry decided to try his luck in Los Angeles and opened an office in Room 807 of Parkinson and Bergstrom's Trust and Savings Building (see above). His office was next door to the architectural offices of the brothers Ross and Mott Montgomery whom quickly became fast friends with Byrne and the Wrights. (Author's note: Mott Montgomery would serve as Lloyd's best man during his November 1916 wedding to Kirah Markham. (SWMZW)).
John was also likely aided in this effort by brother Lloyd's access to Gill's plans for the concrete hotel buildings (see above) recently completed for the industrial City of Torrance which he would have also closely observed during trips to Los Angeles with Lloyd. The below rendering which appeared in the June 21st issue of SWCM includes at the upper corners sculptural elements designed Iannelli. (See also Jameson, p. 58).
"Mr. Albright and Mr. Spreckels would be discussing the new projects on which they were working, and also as to whether they would be successful venture and their guide was the timing of these new buildings to the astrological positions of the stars. The constellation Leo seemed to be a good time to start, and the work would probably be finished the next year at the time of Virgo. I listened in amazement that these two grown up men could discuss such projects and such large expenditures of money and having astrology guide their moves." (Jameson, p. 53).Byrne also received his first and only known Los Angeles commission around the same time John began work on the Spreckels' Workingmen's Hotel. Presaging his numerous future projects for the Catholic Church, the project was for the design of a three building compound for the Church-affiliated Brownson House Settlement Association on Church property between Pleasant and Pennsylvania Avenues near Brooklyn Ave. in Boyle Heights. It is not hard to imagine Byrne drawing inspiration from John and Lloyd's copy of the Wasmuth Portfolio for his Prairie-Style compound (see below)..
The site had been recently acquired for the settlement house compound by Bishop Conaty whom fellow Irishman Byrne would likely have met. A period article described the compound:
"Francis Barry Byrne, 807 Trust & Savings Bldg., is preparing plans for a group of three social settlement buildings to be erected on Pleasant Ave., near Brooklyn Ave., for the Brownson House Association. The main building will be l-story with high basement and will contain a chapel, an auditorium seating about 300, club rooms, bowling alley and shower baths. Dimensions 35x15 ft. There will be a 2-story residence for settlement workers containing twelve rooms and bathroom; dimensions 38x60 ft. The priest's residence will be 1-story and will contain six rooms and bath. The building will be frame construction with exterior plastered on metal lath, shingle roofs, pine trim, hardwood and pine ﬂoors, furnace heat in each building, automatic water heaters, electric wiring. Contractors to bid on work selected." ("Social Settlement Buildings," Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer, May 17, 1913, p. 14. For more on this see my "Brownson House Settlement Association Compound, BoyleHeights, Francis Barry Byrne, Architect, 1913").After sailing back to San Francisco from Japan with the commission for the Imperial Hotel in hand in May-June of 1913, Wright and Borthwick again made a side trip to Los Angeles and San Diego to visit John and Lloyd and discuss their possible apprenticeships back in Chicago. ("Hotel News," San Francisco Call, June 8, 1913, p. 34).
The boys again reconnected their father with the then very busy Gill and Albright and gave him more in-depth tours of their projects in Los Angeles and San Diego. They also seemingly would have visited Byrne's office and been shown his plans for the Brownson commission. Wright and Borthwick might also have been taken to see a performance or two at the boys new hangout, the Orpheum Theater, where Iannelli's client Clarence Drown was the manager and/or the Gamut Club where he was one of the founders and Gill had recently become a member.
They also seemingly would have visited Gill's Concrete Building and Investment Company office in the Harrison Albright-designed Citizen's National Bank Building (see above and below) where he was then involved with his first Aiken System projects, the recently completed Clark House, the then under construction Powers Flats and the Mary Banning House, yet another prestigious commission received via the largess of the Laughlins. (Gill-Aiken).
It seems plausible that Homer Laughlin, Gill and Albright would have arranged some social events for Wright and Mamah including selected Gill clients such as the Bannings, Miltimores and especially the Ruddys. For example, the progressive club woman and feminist Ella Giles Ruddy was also president of the Los Angeles Wisconsin Badgers Club, the Equal Suffrage League and vice-president of the Los Angeles LaFollette for President Club. She was also a frequent contributor to LaFollette's Magazine. ("LaFollette Friends Organize Club Here," LAH, March 2, 1912, p. 1 and Ruddy. Author's note: Coincidentally Robert LaFollette's three children attended the Hillside School in Spring Green with Lloyd and John Wright.).
Ruddy and fellow woman's activist Mamah Borthwick and Wright would have had much in common to discuss over dinner. University of Wisconsin graduate and prominent suffragette Ruddy published numerous articles on Scandinavia and Ibsen during her time in Chicago. It is also seemingly a certainty that she would have absorbed Borthwick's translations of the work of Swedish feminist and fellow suffragette Ellen Key while in Europe while Wright was working on the Wasmuth Portfolio with Taylor Woolley and Lloyd.
Wright prevailed upon his Fine Arts Building publisher friend Ralph Fletcher Seymour to publish Borthwick's translations of Keys' The Morality of Women, Love and Ethics and The Torpedo Under the Ark: Ibsen and Women after their return from Europe in 1911 (see above for example). There were numerous reviews of, and lectures on Key's work advertised in the Los Angeles press in 1911-12 which Ruddy would have been privy to and likely attended. Perhaps Ruddy had even discussed with Lloyd and/or Gill while he was designing and completing her house the relationship between Wright and Borthwick just before their arrival in Los Angeles. (For more on the Schindlers-Seymours friendship see my "Chats" and "The Schindlers in Carmel, 1924").
"The building will have features that will make it unique in Southern California. One of its features is an auditorium 54x28 feet in which classic plays will be produced by the pupils. The cost will be $18,000. While the plan of the building has no counterpart in California it embodies the features of the best structures which have been erected in Boston adapted to Southern California conditions. There will be no basement play rooms and the pupils will be permitted to play out of doors unrestricted. The basement playroom feature, according to Architect Gill, is the most glaring evil in school room construction in this day." ("Fontana School Will Be Up to Date," LAH, October 11, 1913, p. 8).
Just as at Torrance, a serious economic downturn prevented Gill from being given any additional projects after the summer of 1913.Shortly after Wright returned to Taliesin and as he was completing the Powers Flats (see below) Gill permanently moved to Los Angeles and relocated his office and residence to a Victorian mansion converted into apartments at 913 S. Figeuroa St. where he would remain until 1922. (For much more on this see my "Gill's First Aiken System Project").
ee "Steckel" inPart I).
"This house was designed by Irving Gill, who has gained fame for his development of a type of architecture possessing many original features and combining the Moorish, Italian and Spanish effects which are so much in favor with builders of the more expensive types of homes in Southern California." (Ibid).
Sometime in September or October John corresponded with Iannelli regarding the status of the sculptures for the Workingmen's Hotel and requested that a model be prepared for the Coonley Playhouse. He asked that the model be large enough to be used in the upcoming FLW exhibition at the Art Institute. Design also began in earnest on the Midway Gardens project in late 1913 and ground was broken in late February in the hopes of a June grand opening. John convinced his father that Iannelli should be summoned from Los Angeles to help design and execute the project sculptures. (JLW to AI, telegram, February 12, 1914, nn. 65-66, p. 359).
While this major effort was under way the Wright brothers, Taylor Woolley and Iannelli all feverishly worked to help Wright throw together his April 1914 exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago (see below). The elder Wright's work since his 1911 return from Europe was featured in his own dedicated room at the Art Institute much to the displeasure of members of the Illinois Chapter of the A.I.A., one of the three sponsoring organizations. ("Architects in Dispute Over Wright Room," Chicago Examiner, April 10, 1914).
Upon its 1911 European release, Wright's Wasmuth Portfolio had made a great impression among the Otto Wagner-Adolf Loos circles in Vienna which included both Schindler and his later partner Richard Neutra. Schindler would spend most of 1914 unsuccessfully trying to introduce himself to Wright before finally writing him in November,
"During the summer I tried several times without success to meet you. ... I am a young architect, a pupil of Otto Wagner in Vienna and started 8 months ago for this country with the intention to study the development of the American architectur [sic]. I succeeded in getting a position but I can't help to feel very unhappy in an average American office. This feeling is growing from day to day and my only hope is to come in touch with you. So I ask if you could admit me to your office or give an opportunity to study your works at close range." (RMS to FLW, n.d., but Wright's response establishes the month as November, Getty Research Institute, Box 1, Folder 3. Cited in Sweeney, Robert, "Schindler's Vienna" in Schindler, Kings Road and Southern California Modernism, University of California Press, 2012, p. 12).Wright responded sometime in December inviting Schindler to his Orchestra Hall office shortly before leaving for the West Coast for a much-needed vacation and to view the Panama California Exposition in San Diego. It seems likely that during this visit Schindler would have compared notes on what it was like studying under Wagner (and Loos) and their exposure to the Wasmuth Portfolio. Besides proudly giving Schindler a letter of introduction to Mrs. Avery Coonley to view his masterpiece Wright would also likely have shared his upcoming travel plans. FLW and/or son John seemingly would have mentioned their previous time in Southern California and possibly the work of Lloyd's employer Gill evidenced by Schindler's itinerary during West Coast visit the following fall. (For much on Schindler's Western sojourn see my "Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrence" (Weston-Luhan)).
Likely unable to find enough work due to the same economic downturn that affected Gill and many others and despite having just received his California architect's license, Byrne answered Walter Burley Griffin's plea to return to Chicago in early 1914 to take over his ongoing projects. The Griffins were moving to Canberra, Australia to oversee their competition-winning design for the new federal capital in Canberra and invited Byrne to manage their Chicago practice. After consulting with and then ignoring his former employer Wright's advice against filling in for the Griffins, Byrne returned to Chicago in February and moved into their 16th floor attic office in the new Monroe Building (see below). The decision was made easier with his friends John and Lloyd and now Iannelli all back in Chicago.
"Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr., landscape architect of Chicago, will establish an office in Los Angeles, being at present with Architects Montgomery & Montgomery, 805 Trust & Savings Building.
Architect Francis Barry Byrne of Los Angeles, has taken charge of the architectural offices of Walter Bailey Griffin of Chicago during the absence of Architect Griffin in Melbourne, where he will superintend the erection of the Australian capitol buildings." ("Personal," Architect and Engineer of California, March 1914, p. 113.
By this time Schindler would have heard about Gill's Southern California work, if not from the Wright's directly, then through the trade journals, before leaving for the West Coast in the fall. (Weston-Luhan). Schindler's Dodge House site visit during the later stages of construction would amazingly presage Gill's help in the design of his own iconic house a block away six years later. (Gill-Aiken).
"My real work is progressing to a point where worry is finding little chance to play its part. Between Paul G. Thiene and myself (Thiene the L[andscape] A[rchitect] when you met at San Diego, he planted the grounds there you know), an average for the last two months of a job every two and a half days has come into this office. Pretty good considering that I started here without capital, name a very wide experience. Still I am far from being in a stable or really satisfactory position financially, but I am getting there."
Lloyd's Marsh-Strong Building office was six blocks east and the Ingraham 2 blocks west and two blocks north of of Gill's home-office at 913 S. Figueroa. It thus seems quite likely that Gill would have socialized with Lloyd's boyhood Hillside School teachers. The Wisconsin sisters almost certainly would have been introduced to Gill's erstwhile Badger client Ella Giles Ruddy.
"Architecturally, it is promised, this theater will be the handsomest of its kind in the Far West, and the charm of its interior will be no less than that of its lines and proportions. All its parts will be in harmony, making it a thing of complete beauty.
Interesting problems of color and composition presented themselves, to be seized and triumphantly vanquished one by one. ... The walls of the theater are to be a golden gray in tone, the drop curtain is to be a burnt orange in color (see above rendering), and each mural panel is to have 26 feet of wall space. The panels will be sunk into spaces that are like votive niches in a church, and when the stage is occupied they will be covered by curtains, hitherto invisible and automatically manipulated, which are to be the same gold-gray as the walls. Between acts, the theater will be light as a picture gallery, which, indeed, it is, a gallery containing a one-man show of distinguished merit and interest."
"Around 1915, Homer Laughlin built a theater in Long Beach and I received an order to paint ten panels which were to depict "The Spirit of California ." These panels were six by eight feet. I made the stretcher bars a little oversized so that if there was shrinkage or an error in the measurements of the niches prepared on the theater walls some could be cut off. Mr. Laughlin was so pleased with my work that would not trim it, but had the workmen chisel out the cement niches to fit! These panels were used until the theater was torn down many years later." (Hanson Puthuff, 1875-1972: California Colors, Pasadena Museum of California Art, 2006, p. 16).
Laughlin perhaps chose Long Beach for the site of his movie palace after gaining confidence in the city's prospects after setting up shop for his Laughlin Engineers Corporation in 1913-14. Around the time he formed the earlier-mentioned Laughlin Fruit Refining Company longtime automobile enthusiast Laughlin began development of his Laughlin Eight. The Homer Laughlin Engineers Corp. began with an initial capitalization of $100,000 in stock in early 1914 which was increased to $500,000 two years later. Design and prototype development immediately began on his long dreamed of automobile in the old McCan Mechanical Works factory building at 2652 Long Beach Ave. in Long Beach (see below photo album).
"Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrence and Selected Carmel-Taos Connections"
I have covered in some detail Lloyd Wright's fascinating evolution between 1916 and the early 1920s in:
"R. M. Schindler, Edward Weston, Margrethe Mather, Anna Zacsek, Lloyd Wright, Lawrence Tibbett, Reginald Pole, Beatrice Wood and Their Dramatic Circles" which also includes much material on Lloyd's post-Gill mentor William J. Dodd and his Uplifters Club and theatrical activities.
P.S.: A Gill house I have not covered anywhere else is the Edgar T. Wall Residence in Riverside built in the first half of 1920 which I believe to be Gill's last significant house. I had never seen any photos of this particular house which I believe to be the one featured in this article, "The House That Will Not Collect Dust" by E. C. Bartholomew. I would appreciate any corroboration on this as well as any exterior photos. I am also looking for photos of Gill's 1918 Margaret Farlow House at 15830 Vanowen St. in Van Nuys.