Kevin M Handy

Digital Photography

Nature, mans relation to nature, buildings and the logic and simplicity of it inspire my work and drive me to think systemically.

The Mayer May House - Heritage Hill neighborhood, Grand Rapids, MIchigan

The Mayer May house was built for an up and coming owner of a dry cleaning chain, Mayer May and his wife Sofie and their two children.

Built thirty years apart the two buildings pictured couldn't be more different. In Michigan there was the Mayer May House as well as May's in-law's homes - both Wright masterpieces. The Meyer May House followed in the footsteps of the Robie House, the very first modern home of the early 20th century. The home was a marvel for its time. Indoor bathrooms (which were still rare), a telephone, an in-wall vacuum (unheard of for the time), built in lighting in the dining room table, built-in furniture (also strange bizarre for the neighbors). An entrance from the side rather than the front A large, spacious veranda from which one could see out if one stood up, but which shielded the family from the elements. Windows designed to welcome the light as prisms of gorgeous light bathed every room of the house giving different color signatures each hour depending upon the weather and condition. 

Gold leaf was etched into the indoor brick mortar and the brick itself was mixed with an earth tone to create a gorgeous effect, especially when the light hit it. Carpets were custom designed for the house and Wright not only select the colors - he created all the designs. This in the day when most homes had rugs. And "horrors" Wright also left wood exposed, believing that the natural wood beauty was well worth it. Wood floors were treated with wax so that they shined. 

Unheard of also was the enormous ceiling and lack of an attack. Built-in cupboards certainly weren't new but the sheer number of them was unheard of - and they seemed almost hidden in some cases. The bathrooms seem like nothing special today, but in their day they were modern, gorgeous and light - something even those who had bathrooms didn't enjoy that we do today.

The kitchen contained a special sink made of nickel - again unheard of - built into a cabinet base. The kitchen was well thought out and serviceable with built-in space containers for all the staples (flour, sugar, etc.) and a new gas stove. 

The childrens rooms were next to the parent's sitting room and beyond it was their bedroom. All with their own bathrooms and floor to ceiling windows that could be opened in favorable whether with screens built in. A children's play room finished off the space. Bedrooms in Wright's houses were always small. Wright reasoned, "why build large bedrooms when you use them for sleep". If Wright had his way the closets and clothing would have been in the bathrooms. But the clients wouldn't have stood for that.

The desk with the phone was placed at the top of the stairs. Wright believed that when a man came home he should leave work at work so the desk is small but serviceable and was principally designed for Mrs. May. It contained a telephone, a rarity even for modern Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1908.

  • Wisconsin
  • Michigan