Monday, May. 27, 2019

Growing Up in a Frank Lloyd Wright House

By Laurie Thompson · February 27, 2013

Dining Room of the Boynton House <span>&copy; Kim Bixler </span>

Dining Room of the Boynton House

Boynton House, 1919 <span>&copy; Kim Bixler </span> Bixler Children at Boynton House <span>&copy; Kim Bixler </span> Author Kim Bixler <span>&copy; Kim Bixler </span>

Please join the Anne T. Kent California Room and the Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center Conservancy for a special multi-media presentation and book-signing by Kim Bixler on Tuesday, March 26 at 7 pm in Room 330 of the Marin County Civic Center Adminstration Building at 3501 Civic Center Drive in San Rafael.

Kim Bixler's family owned Frank Lloyd Wright's 1908 Edward E. Boynton House in Rochester, New York, from 1977 to 1994.  In "Growing Up in a Frank Lloyd Wright House", she recounts the joys and pitfalls of owning and living in a Wright-designed home.  Bixler tells the tumultuous history of the house through interviews with former and current owners.  Living with the public's curiosity, playing hide-and-seek, coping with the habitually leaky roof and managing constant renovations make this an unforgettable story.

The Boynton House is one of Wright's most stunning private homes.  During its construction, the world-renowned architect was frequently on-site, supervising all details, including the design of the furniture. Unlike most books about home design, Bixler incorporates personal reflections, accounts from prior and current homeowners, anecdotes, family histories and more than 200 photographs to portray a memorable childhood.

"On a daily basis cars would slow as they passed our Frank Lloyd Wright house, passengers staring from the windows, their mouths slightly open in awe," Bixler writes.  "My brother and I would peek through the stained glass windows staring at people, who were staring at us, oblivious to our spy game.  At least one person every weekend would knock on the door, begging for a tour schedule (there was none), pleading for a peek inside."

Despite the excitement of living in such famous quarters, Bixler witnessed the impracticality of some of Wright's wondrous designs.  "The beauty of the house was indisputable," she says, "but repair and restoration projects were underway non-stop at our house.  My parents raced to keep one step ahead of the deterioration sped up by the elements.  No stranger to harsh weather himself, Wright designed the Boynton House in an unforgiving climate that forced my parents to repeatedly open their checkbook."

Architecture professor and Frank Lloyd Wright scholar Jack Quinan says of "Growing Up in a Frank Lloyd Wright House", "a well-researched and beautifully written account -- a true history of the house.  As an academic concerned mostly with the narrower aspects of structure, space and their meaning, I read with envy and delight about (Bixler's) life in the house."

Bixler is featured in the PBS documentary Frank Lloyd Wright's Boynton House:  The Next Hundred Years.   

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