May 5, 2017
a bird house – not!
The shots are down the side-alley and the focus is the white concrete structure with the vertical thingy on top. In the left image, I purposely opened the louvers to add to the horizontals – bricks, mortar-lines, louvers, window-sashes. In the right image, because I wanted to show the copper insects and because I wanted a background for the birdhouse, I shut the lower louvers.
A quartet of birdhouses sits perched atop the Darwin D. Martin House conservatory roof – one at each of its four corners. Frank Lloyd Wright designed these solid limestone structures for the Martin House Complex as homes to attract the purple martin – North America’s largest species of swallow. It is also believed that Wright intended these birdhouses to serve as a whimsical, yet metaphorical, nod to his clients – the Darwin D. Martin Family. It is not fully known whether purple martins ever nested there; regardless, the birdhouses with their distinctive Pagoda-like shape are an architectural element unique to and in complete harmony with the overall composition of the site.
I can tell you that no self-respecting swallow took up residence in Mr. Wright’s stone dwelling. Man, his houses look great, but live in one, NEVER! We all know humans, with their little brains and giant egos, can be talked into almost anything. Think stiletto heels, neckties, skinny jeans. But I assume purple martins don’t have a style obsession or a better-than gene and therefore flew by the whatchamacallits on the roof of the fancy-house and down to the homey birdhouses built by the little kid and his parent on the next block. (The Martin House is surrounded by regular, 1940’s, Buffalo houses – two-and-a-half story, wood construction, clapboard siding, peaked roof.)
One last thing – the birdhouse weighs nearly 140 pounds. Good thing it’s in pieces – the finial, the roof-slab and the 3-floor residence. It was delivered wrapped in cellophane and situated on a huge pallet. The delivery person left it on the sidewalk and I had to take the wooden crate apart to get to the birdhouse.
Also, the 32″ high pedestal that it sits on, weighs close to 300 pounds. It’s the concrete base of a fountain, but because it’s cracked, the guy at the greenhouse was willing to sell it separately. I got it for $50. It took 3 big guys to load it into my Forester. And I drove around with this monster in the back, for almost a week. (Yes, weight impacts gas consumption; filled the tank twice in one week.) Finally, last night, my neighbors – Marcus and his dad – helped me lift the pedestal out of the back of the car and onto a hauler dolly.