Note: All my posts on the ’60s are gathered under “The ’60s,” above. Being a blog, these posts are in reverse order. If you want to read them from the beginning, scroll down. Chapter 1 is at the bottom, chapter 2 above that, etc.

Renovation of Timber Frame Church in Santa Barbara

Bob Easton, who designed (and did all the hand-lettered headlines and drawings of small buildings) in Shelter with me in 1973, has been an architect ever since, and today sent me this note, along with this photo:

“…got busy this week, in the middle of renovating 120-year-old Episcopal church here in Montecito.”

The church was apparently designed by Arthur Benton in 1900.

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water House Saved (at Enormous Cost)

I was a FLW fan in the early ’60s. We went to Taliesin West (on the same trip, hung out a bit with Paolo Soleri at his compound in Scottsdale, where he had just built this beautiful underground grotto/studio). Slept on the deck of a burned-down FLW house nearby. Visited the house (in Pasadena?) with imprinted concrete blocks and also got a tour of a home in Marin County by a guy named Berger who built it himself.

So FLW’s engineering sucked. He was an artist!

This was sent in by Ed today. For the thread that started the FLW conversation, see comments on this post: My Little Hut in the Woods

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My Little Hut in the Woods

I live in a little Co-Housing on a farm just outside a small town in Switzerland. In Spring 2017, I sold my the little caravan that I was living in and started sleeping at the edge of the forest 200 yards from the farm, under some huge beech trees. By the end of Summer, I was feeling really at home there and decided I would make myself a home, so I could stay there in Winter.

I could already see the place for my shelter, hugging in between a small ash tree and an overgrown pile of dirt. So I started digging, using only a knife, a folding saw, and my bare hands. My inspiration was the debris hut, a shelter i know from the wilderness school.

The main structure is made of bent hazel branches, which looks like a huge streamlined basket. This a covered with jute bags, than a thick layer of pressed straw and a thick plastic lining normally used for ponds. All this is covered with dirt.

The entrance is formed by two well-chosen bent branches and around it, I closed the gap with adobe and some embedded glass bottles for light. The door was then closed by a few layers of woolen blankets.

Heat is provided by two small burners using denatured alcohol. It was warm and cosy this first winter. And even without heating, temperatures inside never fell below 7°C (44°F) inside, with -10° (14°F) outside, the warmth from the ground keeping the interior warmer.

In 2018, I added three layers of mud plastering to the inside walls. I dug the floor deeper and added a clay layer with gravel on top, covered by an earthen floor, sealed with linseed oil and wax. A small rocket mass heater now provides heating. With all the thermal mass from the mud, it now takes a little longer to heat up, but then keeps the warmth for more than a day.

The newest addition is a double-glassed door with a wooden frame perfectly fitted to the door shape, providing a lot more light inside when I use the space during the day.

All in all, the experience of building my own shelter, with not much more than my bare hands and what materials I could find in the vicinity alone was worth the effort. I think it is one of the most basic instincts of all living beings to make their own shelter, and we humans are no exception.

–Martin Fuchs

Article in Swiss newspaper (You may need to use an incognito window to get past the web block.)

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Which Cover Do You Like Best?

We are in the final stages with our latest book, The Half-Acre Homestead: 46 Years of Building and Gardening. It’s 8½″ square, 168 pages, with about 540 photos of these things:

House/Kitchen/Cooking/Preserving/Foraging/Fishing/Gardening/Chickens/Crafts

It’s a book I’ve been meaning to put together for years, and it feels good to be in the final stages.

Above are two choices for the cover. Click either image for larger view. Whichever image we choose for the front cover, the other one will go on the back cover.

What do you think?

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Old Barns For Sale in Vermont

Last month, we received this letter:

Hi Lloyd

I wanted to follow up on the email I wrote earlier this week about Luke Larson, a talented historic timber framer.

Luke is currently restoring a corn crib (and several other barns built in the 1700s.) I am sure that your readers would be fascinated by Luke’s outstanding craftsmanship. He would be able to share incredible insight about his techniques, the buildings he saves and the beautiful new timber frame structures he builds.

Let me know if you would be interested in an article.

Thanks!
Rachel (Kaplan)

Here is the article:

Green Mountain Timber Frames, a small company based in Middletown Springs, Vermont, specializes in transforming vintage, hand hewn timber frames into custom homes, studios, additions, and barns. Luke Larson now owns the company and operates it with a dedicated staff of craftspeople and history buffs. Luke is passionate about preserving the history that resides in old timber frame structures, and digs into the generations of folks who have built, cared for, and used these buildings. The structures undergo a complete restoration and are put back up on new foundations, ready to stand tall and true with integrity for many generations to come. Luke and his team are dedicated to preserving the craftsmanship from the past, as well as being students and teachers of the crafts of yesteryear. Take a look to see his current barns for sale.

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