Preservation… The “Wright” Way

by Editorial
The restrained exterior features a flat copper roof.

The restrained exterior features a flat copper roof.

An iconic Arco floor lamp soars over the central living space toward a stone fireplace. Wright often described fireplaces as “the heart and soul of a house.”

An iconic Arco floor lamp soars over the central living space toward a stone fireplace. Wright often described fireplaces as “the heart and soul of a house.”

This was precisely the question that Washington philanthropist and AOL founder James V. Kimsey faced when, in 2000, he purchased the property adjacent to The Falls, his 21,000 sq. foot house overlooking the Potomac River in McLean. The masterpiece in this case was none other than a Frank Lloyd Wright house built in 1952 – one of only three properties that Wright designed in the Washington area. Known to Wright’s disciples as the Marden House, this hemicycle design set into the rocky hillside was named after Luis and Ethel Marden, the photographer and mathematician couple for whom the home was designed. The Marden’s occupied the residence until 2003.

Presented with a choice, Kimsey decided to do what any steward of a masterpiece would, and he undertook its restoration art to exactly what the artist intended it to be. Kimsey even visited Wright’s archivists at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, housed at Taliesin West in Arizona, and in 2004, he began the $1 million-plus restoration. The result is pure F.L.W., a cinderblock work of minimalist genius suspended over a torrent of rapids half a mile south of the Key Bridge.

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