Blossoms owners to restore renowned architect's home

Chris Azzopardi

Norm Silk and Dale Morgan never thought 21 years ago – when they first moved to Palmer Woods in Detroit – that they would restore a house designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the same neighborhood. But this spring Silk and Morgan, co-owners of Blossoms flower boutique in Birmingham for over 30 years, will move into the Wright home off West Seven Mile Road.
"How many people can own a Frank Lloyd Wright house?" Silk said.
Silk and Morgan will begin the bidding process for contractors to give the 4,200-square feet house a face-lift in the coming weeks and anticipate several months of construction.
"I think it was a wonderful opportunity to live in an architecturally significant building and we enjoy the challenge of the restoration as well," Silk said.
For several years the couple had been contemplating moving into a more contemporary looking house, but they jumped at the opportunity when they realized the home was endangered a few months ago.
"In spite of the fact it's had a lot of neglect over the years, it's really very sound and very much intact," Silk said. "The problems it has are due to neglect and has nothing to do with the design or anything else. Just pure neglect and lack of maintenance."
The home doesn't have a functioning heating system, kitchen or bathroom and the roof leaks. Silk said that's what kept potential home buyers away.
"You'd have to make a pretty major investment up front to get those things corrected and I think that's one reason there was a lot of interest in it, it had real special needs."
But Silk and Morgan are willing to make the investment and plan on renovating it to Wright's standards. "We've retained an architect who is highly involved in frank Lloyd Wright projects, so he's very familiar with the construction and how to renovate something in a modern way without destroying the integrity of the building," Silk said.
Builders will replace the vinyl counter tops with granite – a more modern material. New cushions will take the place of old, worn ones. The living area – known on the blue print as the "music room" – will be used as a garden room.
"It's a two-story room that looks into the woods and into the gardens and with the woods beyond, it's just magnificent and it has to have a couple of hundred windows in it. It's all squares of glass two-stories high that wraps around. It's just beautiful."
Built in 1957, the economical Usonian Automatic style home is the only two-story one of its kind. The house has no basement, no attic and little ornamentation.
"It's all house," Silk said.
Wright invented the style in the '30s and although he used the same window and block patterns, the houses are distinctly designed.
"It's not like a subdivision," Silk said. "You won't find it repeated every third house."
While there are several Wright houses in Michigan, Morgan and Silk's is the only one in Detroit.
"I think Mr. Wright is one of the most important American architects that we've had. He's just a revolutionary designer, well-known all over the world (and) his designs are highly respected," Silk said. "… It's just amazing to think that someone 90 years old could have the vision that he did."


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