For the last post of 2012, I thought I'd share two vintage postcards I recently found from around 1914 that depict a relatively unknown Frank Lloyd Wright-design: The Island Woolen Company Dam Observation Deck (1913) formerly found in Baraboo, WI.
Intrigued that this bizarre design was a Wright, I decided to look it up in the definitive book on the subject, Lost Wright by Carla Lind to learn more.
Read and see more after the jump...
No drawings exist for the structure, but Wright is believed to have designed the geometric cantilevering observation platforms where the concrete meets the earthen banks of the river. Interestingly, the small white ovals seen adorning the structure in the top postcard are inset mollusk shells from the river.
Carla goes on to say that McFetridge was a painter and worked briefly as a draftsman in Louis Sullivan's office while Wright was there in 1892. McFetridge kept up a friendship with Wright through the years and when financial times were tough for Wright in the 1920s, McFetridge purchased portions of the architect's Japanese print collection to help him out.
I did a little more digging around the internet and came up with some great historic photos of the dam's construction and the finsihed observation deck from the Sauk County Historical Society Flickr page that I though readers would enjoy.
The mill was ultimately closed in 1949 and the dam and observation structures were dynamited in 1972 when repairs proved too costly. While it's always sad to lose important architecture structures like this, removing several of the dams (like this one) from Wisconsin's rivers has apparently helped the ecosystems bounce back and endangered fish, like sturgeon, start using the free-flowing waterway again to spawn.
Maybe the good people of Baraboo can commission the The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture to design a new river side observation deck that follows Organic Architectural tenets as an homage to the town's lost Wright. I know I'd travel to see it!
If anyone has any more information or images they'd like to share about this lost Wright design, please send it to me at [email protected] and I'll be sure to share with everyone.
Happy New Year!
Color postcard images via PrairieMod. All other photos from the Sauk County Historical Society Flickr Page.