In 1937, three young men—Tony Smith, Ted van Fossen and Laurence Cuneo met at the New Bauhaus in Chicago, a school headed by Lazlo Moholy-Nagy. When the school closed after a year, Smith and Cuneo joined Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin Fellowship, a total learning environment that combined fine arts with architecture, with an emphasis on learning-by-doing and designing to be in harmony with nature. In 1939, Ted van Fossen received a commission to design and build a house for a young Bohemian couple, Rob and Mary Gunning, on a wooded lot on the edge of a ravine. The three young designers adopted Wright's principles of organic design for the Gunning House, which the trio named Glenbrow. Built of cypress and stone quarried on site, the house featured walls of glass that brought those who inhabited it into a close relationship with the natural beauty of their surroundings.
Tony Smith later became famous for his monumental minimalist sculptures, Ted van Fossen for Rush Creek Village—a central Ohio community of about 50 organic modern designed homes and Cuneo as the art director for the first season of the "I Love Lucy" show. Rob Gunning developed the Gunning Fog Index, a writer's tool to ensure text can be read easily by the intended audience.
The years passed, and eventually the house fell into ruin. By 2013 the house had been abandoned for nearly a decade with virtually no maintenance. Red Bird Against the Snow tells the rich history surrounding the house, the people involved in its creation and the several year transition from ruin to restored.
Taking on a project of this magnitude takes skills, perseverance and vision. Dorri Steinhoff and Joe Kuspan discovered Glenbrow on a chance errand at a time they were looking to downsize after completing renovation of another Wright apprentice home. Their journey in reviving the 1940 modernist gem back to its glory led to experiences that enriched their lives in ways they could never imagine.
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