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From The Road

The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades

Education with a purpose; where no one is left behind

In the modern world, we value college degrees over trade-school know-how; and our educational system—and our country—pays the price. The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades is a good example of effective education, education that actually works, where, truly, no child is left behind; and where success—both for educators and students—is easy to track: at Williamson, nearly every graduate who wants a job gets a job, and that is a great measure of success. Read the full article…

The Thorsen House

(with Gary Katz)

Not long ago, Gary Katz and I visited the William Thorsen House in Berkeley, CA. Built in 1909—one year after the Gamble House—the Thorsen House represents the “last of the large and elaborate wooden houses designed by Greene and Greene,” (Edward Bosley), for which Randall Makinson, in his book Greene & Greene: Architecture as a Fine Art, coined the term, “Ultimate Bungalows.” Read the full article…

Hull-Oakes Sawmill

Hull-Oakes Lumber may be the last steam-powered commercial saw mill in the country, and they’re one of the few mills capable of cutting large timbers up to 85 ft. long. The mill has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1996. Large long timbers are still used in railroad trestles, the restoration of historic structures, and for the spars and masts of ships. By coincidence, the day I arrived the mill was cutting an 80-ft. long timber for the restoration of the C.A. Thayer, an early 20th century three-masted schooner used to transport lumber along the West Coast. Read the full article…

Sharp Matters at Windsor Mill

Remembering Ray Flynn

I first visited the WindsorONE mill in Willits, CA about ten years ago. Don Dunkley, the events coordinator for JLC LIVE, arranged the tour for a group of show presenters. I remember driving up there in a van with Tom Carty, Mike Sloggatt, Don Dunkley, Tom Brewer, and a few other guys. The trip is still vivid, mostly because Tom Carty got carsick in the back of the van. Read the full article…

Falling Water

Where Wright was Right and Wright was Wrong

I recently read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. What a great story about an architect—Howard Roark—who refuses to compromise his creative ideals or his personal values. In a biography of Frank Lloyd Wright, Brendan Gill discusses the comparison between Wright and Roark, and the common misconception that Rand based her character on the famous architect (Many Masks, pg. 490-492). After reading several biographies of Wright (and learning Wright was a colossal egotist), then visiting many of his homes (where I was overwhelmed by their timeless beauty), I have to agree: it’s too bad there wasn’t more in common between the man and the myth. But Wright’s work, and especially his influence on architecture, will definitely outlive his personality. Read the full article…