26 March 2013

It all started with Koerting


After I gave my two week notice in 2008, from the only post-college job I had known, I was asked by a non-profit group if I wanted to write a National Register nomination for a house in Elkhart.

Uh, sure.....I think I can fit that into my schedule.  I had written a handful of nominations up to that point....but never for compensation.  A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had hit a milestone with the 70th National Register nomination that I had authored.  I would have never guessed that portion of my work would be so enjoyable, due in large part to the people that I have met.  But here we are, not 5 years into it and I'm wondering what my 100th nomination will look like.  I've written about several of these nominations on HH, but I plan to go back and hit the scores of others in a rather disconnected, elongated series, because of their connection to our Hoosier history and culture.

But it started with this one, in Elkhart.  Architect Alden Dow was a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright's from Midland, Michigan.  He took Wright's training to another level when he became accomplished in the International style of architecture.  He was contacted by William and Helen Koerting, who had lived in Japan and worked for Miles Laboratories, to design their home on the St. Joseph River in 1937.  Dow designed only one other home in Indiana, almost directly across the river from Koertings.  The interior space, particularly the living room and dining room, are amazing as views from interior balconies demonstrate a collision of multiple levels of the house.  Cool.


I met with the owners in 2008.  They were only the third family to own the house and had decorated it appropriately with their own love for oriental furnishings.  Mr. Owens offered us a martini.  The point at which my friend said "I hear you make a mean martini" I should have declined.  I had never had one, much less one that I would have described more as angry.  I didn't want to insult the host, so, after the second one........I don't recall that I made a lot of sense.

In my defense, it was hot.  I was hungry and thirsty.  And I'm a lightweight when it comes to the strong stuff.


The project was completed within a few months.  After the house was officially listed, Mrs. Owens invited us back, Mr. Owens had since passed away.  She had an amazing roof-top bonsai garden that our family got the opportunity to tour.  Great people.

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