As part of The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy’s annual conference, Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson Eric Lloyd Wright is visiting the Tonkens House in the suburb of Amberley Village. 55 years ago, Eric Lloyd Wright supervised the construction of the home.
Although Wright, an architect, hasn’t visited the home in many years, sitting in the open family room with his wife, Mary, and Beverly Tonkens’ family, memories came back. As he looked over the home’s built-in furniture and shelving - done in rich mahogany - and the concrete blocks surrounding the fireplace, he recalled the size of the rebar used and how his grandfather chose to have the smooth side of the blocks turned inward so the coffered side would provide an interesting design element.
“It’s the strangest things that stick with you,” he said.
In 1955, the 24-year-old Eric Wright was apprenticing with his grandfather, then 87, at the Taliesin schools in Wisconsin and Arizona. He was assigned to work with Beverly Tonkens’ late husband, Gerald, and manage the construction of the house in Amberley Village.
For Wright, working under his grandfather was “a mixed bag.” While Frank Lloyd Wright was patient with new apprentices, experienced staffers were held to a higher standard.
“Mistakes that would happen on the job were my responsibility,” Wright said.
Beverly Tonkens still lives in the house, and has kept all of the and furnishings chosen by Frank Lloyd Wright when the house was built.
The article includes a better-than-average photo gallery