Monday, March 12, 2012

A Very Special Gift For A Child...!

Just because someone is rich and famous doesn't mean that they don't have feelings.

In this case, a simple letter from a child was enough for a truly inspired man to take notice and act accordingly. Often it's amazing what faith can be found in the heart of children.

The idea of Wright never reading his letter, much less responding to it, probably never even entered this young man's head.

Doghouse designed by Wright rebuilt for film

By SUDHIN THANAWALA, Associated Press – 10 hours ago

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. The Fallingwater home in southwestern Pennsylvania. But a child's doghouse?

Frank Lloyd Wright designed hundreds of landmark buildings and homes during a prolific career that spanned more than seven decades. But in what is widely considered a first and only for the famed architect, Wright indulged a young boy's humble request for a dog house in 1956 and sent him designs for the structure.

"I was probably his youngest client and poorest client," Jim Berger, now 68, said during a recent phone interview.

Berger rebuilt the doghouse last year with his brother, using the original plans. It was featured in a documentary film and will be displayed during screenings starting this month.

Wright designed Berger's family's home in the Marin County town of San Anselmo, prompting the then-12 years old Berger to ask his dad if Wright would design a home for his black Labrador, Eddie.

Berger's dad said he didn't know, so Berger decided to write to the great architect himself.

"I would appreciate it if you would design me a doghouse, which would be easy to build, but would go with our house...," read the letter dated June 19, 1956. "(My dog) is two and a half feet high and three feet long. The reasons I would like this doghouse is for the winters mainly."

Berger explained that he would pay Wright from the money he made from his paper route.

"A house for Eddie is an opportunity," Wright wrote back. But he said he was too busy at the time (construction on the Guggenheim began in 1956) and asked that Berger write him back in November.

Berger did so on the first of the month, and the plan for the doghouse followed — at no charge.

"The story of a 12-year-old kid having the chutzpah to write a letter to the greatest architect of all time and having him design something as modest as a doghouse..., I just knew it was a great story," said Michael Miner, who produced and directed the documentary, "Romanza," which features the doghouse and other structures Wright designed in California.

The Dallas, Tex. filmmaker is scheduled to screen the documentary at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Ill. on March 25, according to his website, Screenings are scheduled to follow in Iowa, Georgia, Florida, New Jersey and New Hampshire. The doghouse will be on hand.

Berger said the original doghouse was not built until about 10 years after he received the designs. Since Eddie had died by then, Berger's father and brother built their house for another family dog.

That doghouse, however, later ended up in the dump because Berger said his mother did not have a dog, and did not see much other value in it. He rebuilt it for the documentary last year, working off Wright's original plan, which said, "Plan of Eddie's house."

"When I wrote him originally to design the doghouse, I specified that it be real easy to build," said Berger, who became a cabinet maker. "It was a nightmare."

The roughly 3-foot wide-by-5-foot long-by 3-feet high doghouse has a sharp triangular shape, with a sloping shingled roof. It is made of Philippine mahogany and weighs about 250 pounds.

"It's definitely in the master's hand," Oskar Munoz, assistant director of archives at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, said of the design for the doghouse.

Munoz said Berger's is believed to be the only doghouse Wright designed. Wright likely sketched it out and then handed it to a draftsman in his studio who turned it into a working drawing, he said.

Wright was past 80 and likely busy with dozens of projects at the time, Munoz said, so for him to take the time to make the sketch was unusual. Wright died in Phoenix in 1959.

Berger, who now lives in the Sacramento area and has three rescue beagles, said he's not sure what he will do with the doghouse.

Although his beagles are worthy of it, he said they would probably prefer to stay in the house.

"My feeling is that I'd like it to go to a museum because it is a historical monument," he said.

Like a great person once said "with faith all things are possible!"

Maybe it's a signal that we should all start having a little more faith! If you need a little help on trying to remember just how to dream, then may I suggest you ask a child! Couldn't hurt, right?

Coffee out on the patio this morning, providing the wind doesn't blow your cup off the patio table!


linda m said...

Sometimes I wish I had the innocence and faith of a little child again.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Wonderful story and I agree with linda m for sure.

HermitJim said...

Hey Linda...
We all could use a little of that again, I think!

Thanks, my friend, for coming by today!

Hey Dizzy...
Glad you liked the story this morning.

Thanks for coming over, buddy!

JOJO said...

What wonderful story. And even better that Wright did it.
Now you have the wind. We will be warming up from the looks of things with breeze ? lol

Gorges Smythe said...

Neat story!

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

That's neat! Thanks for sharing.
Happy Trails, Penny, TX

HermitJim said...

Hey Gorges...
Thanks for that, my friend!

I appreciate the visit today!

Hey Penny...
Thanks for the nice comments today. Good to see you!

Thanks so much for coming by today!

BBC said...

I'm pretty sure that all a dog cares about is a dry roof over it's head, that's pretty much all I care about.

BBC said...

Like a great person once said "with faith all things are possible!"

I guess that explains why we now how over four dollar a gallon gas.

HermitJim said...

Hey BBC...
I'm kinda fond of a dry roof overhead myself!

As far as the $4.00 gas...we are still under that here in south Texas! I'm sure that will change pretty soon!

Thanks for coming by today!