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Wright Studies
Chauncey L. and Johanna Griggs Residence, Tacoma (Lakewood),
Washington (1945) (S.290)

After living in the Seattle area for over thirty years, and visiting Wright homes all over the country, it was time to visit the Griggs Residence right here in my own backyard. Over the years I had heard that the present owner preferred privacy. Wanting to respect that, I had always pushed it off. Armed with Storrer’s books and a letter requesting to photograph and tour the home, I was determined to find it, which turned out to be more difficult than I had anticipated. It is only a few miles off of I-5, but over the years, as lots were sold and streets developed, the address changed. I knew I was close. I questioned one neighbor who had lived in the area for 25 years, knew it was in the area, but didn’t have a clue.  Others responded Wright who? After finally driving down every long driveway, Storrer’s description rang a bell.
       Chauncey’s Grandfather, Chauncey Wright Griggs, made a fortune in real estate in St. Paul. He became President of the St. Paul & Tacoma Lumber Company, which owned 80,000 acres, built two large mills and employing from five to seven thousand men in the Tacoma area. Chauncey’s Father, Herbert Stanton Griggs, graduate from Yale, opened a private law firm which handled the legal affairs for the lumber company. Chauncey Levenworth Griggs was born on July 6, 1909 and pasted away on September 27, 1989. He followed in his fathers footsteps and graduated from Yale. In 1935 at 26, he founded Ski Lifts, Inc. with a partner. They built and installed the first rope tows west of New England at Paradise Valley on Snoqualmie Summit (later to become Hyak), and Mt Baker. They operated

 

  the company for six years and sold out in 1942 to their first employee. He then spent the bulk of his career as a lumber industry executive.
       Designed in 1945, it was not completed for another seven years. Construction was supervised by Alan Liddle, a local architect. After descending a long drive through a forest of massive fir trees and lush ferns, you reach Chambers Creek and cross a bridge to reach the home. There are many classic Wright details, but it has a very unique feel. There is the hidden entrance. Exposed rough-cut cedar trusses, reminiscent of Taliesin’s Drafting Room. Mitered glass corners. Local cedar. Extensive floor to ceiling glass windows with multiple glass doors that open outward. It is built on a seven foot grid system rather than the standard four foot system. The stunning cantilevered roof over the Gallery Terrace extends fourteen feet past the floor to ceiling glass wall. There are double clerestory windows, the top row lightens the Gallery, the lower row lightens the Bedrooms. Three fireplaces, the one in the Lounge is large enough to stand in. Everything about this Usonian home is grand. One unique feature about this home is the concrete block wall construction. The standard concrete block home is constructed by staggering each row. These blocks are stacked directly on top of each other. This is consistent with other block homes he designed, the earlier Textile Block homes, Florida Southern College and the later Usonian Automatic homes. Chauncey Griggs’ son and his wife presently live in the home. He was very gracious in allowing me to tour the home, and photograph the outside.  June 2008

Original drawing of the Griggs Residence.
 

Detail from original drawing.

 
 
Exterior Photographs By Douglas Steiner, June 2008
There are many classic Wright details, but it has a very unique feel. There is the hidden entrance. Exposed rough-cut cedar trusses, reminiscent of Taliesin’s Drafting Room. Mitered glass corners. Local cedar. Extensive floor to ceiling glass windows with multiple glass doors that open outward. It is built on a seven foot grid system rather than the standard four foot system. The stunning cantilevered roof over the Gallery Terrace extends fourteen feet past the floor to ceiling glass wall. There are double clerestory windows, the top row lightens the   Gallery, the lower row lightens the Bedrooms. Three fireplaces, the one in the Lounge is large enough to stand in. Everything about this Usonian home is grand. One unique feature about this home is the concrete block wall construction. The standard concrete block home is constructed by staggering each row. These blocks are stacked directly on top of each other. This is consistent with other block homes he designed, the earlier Textile Block homes, Florida Southern College and the later Usonian Automatic homes.
Text and Photographs by Douglas M. Steiner, Copyright 2008
 
 
Floor Plan
Floor plan copyright 1993, “The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion” Storrer, William Allin, page 300.
 
 
Usonian Automatic Homes (Built)
 
 
Related Items From the Usonian Automatic Traveling Exhibit
Books, Brochures, PR, Articles
 
 
Related Books
"Frank Lloyd Wright Monograph 1942-1950", Text: Pfeiffer, Bruce Brooks;
Edited and Photographed: Futagawa, Yukio, 1990, page 104-107.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion”, Storrer, William Allin, 1993, page 300.
"Frank Lloyd Wright and the Meaning of Material" Patterson, 1994, page 29, 31.
"Frank Lloyd Wright: The Western Work", Legler, Dixie, 1999, page 34-39.
"The Vision of Frank Lloyd Wright" Heinz, 2000, page 210, 213.
"Wright-Sized Houses", Maddex, Diane, 2003, pages 56-57.
"Frank Lloyd Wright American Master", Weintraub; Smith, 2009, page 244.
"Frank Lloyd Wright, Complete Works 1943-1959", Pfeiffer; Gossel, 2009, pages 94-95.
 
 
Related Images and Articles
(Note, due to the fact that the internet is constantly changing, and items that
are posted change, I have copied the text, but give all the credits available.)
A) “History of Tolland County, Connecticut”, by J. R. Cole, W. W. Preston & Co. New York 1888.
B) “St. Paul & Tacoma Lumber Company incorporates on June 4, 1888.” by Murray Morgan, “The Mill on
the Boot: The Story of the St. Paul & Tacoma Lumber Company” 1982.
C) “Jim Parker and Chauncey Griggs formed Ski Lifts, Inc.
D) “Tacoma architect donating records, books.” (Article related to Alan Liddle, the local architect who
supervised the construction.)
 
 
Additional Wright Studies
  Banff National Park Pavilion (S.170)    Bitter Root Inn (S.145)    Blair Residence (S.351)    Blumberg Residence (Project) 
  Brandes Residence (S.350)    Como Orchard Summer Colony (S.144)    Elam Residence (S.336)    "Eve of St. Agnes" (1896) 
 Frank L. Smith Bank (S.111)    Gordon Residence (S.419)    Griggs Residence (S.290)    Henderson Residence (S.057)  
  "House Beautiful" 1896-98    Imperial Hotel (S.194) Silverware and Monogram    Kalil Residence (S.387)    Lake Geneva Hotel (S.171)  
  Lamp Cottage, Rocky Roost (S.021)    Lockridge Medical Clinic (S.425)    March Balloons    Midway Gardens (S.180)  
  Midway Gardens Dish (S.180)    Roloson Rowhouse (S.026)    Shavin Residence (S.339)   Sixty Years Exhibition 1951-56 
  Stohr Arcade (S.162)   Stromquiest Residence (S.429)   Teater Studio (S.352)    Tracy Residence (S.389)   
 Trier Residence (S.398)    Usonian Automatic Homes    Zimmerman Residence, (S.333) 
 
  Frank Lloyd Wright's First Published Article (1898) 
 
Photographic Chronology of Frank Lloyd Wright Portraits
 

 

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