Archives for posts with tag: William Morgan

On this beautiful spring afternoon, Richard, Patricia McQuaid and I met with Mr. Morgan to review Patricia’s initial plans and discuss proposed materials for the renovation. As a female, I delight in how much Bunny Morgan adds to these meetings, reminding Bill Morgan of design details and materials he has used in the past, making soft suggestions, and asking questions. When Mr. Morgan discovered that our design/build team is all females, he started referring to the “girls” handling this project. All the sisters out there, ya gotta love that.

A key issue at the meeting was to get his approval of Richard’s cause celebre, the corrugated metal siding we’ve chosen to use instead of replacing the lapped cypress siding. The metal is much lighter, weight being a huge issue with this house, and much cheaper, cost also being a huge issue with this house (duh). Patricia brought a sample of the siding for Mr. Morgan to touch, discuss and consider.

It was pretty obvious to me that he was not at ALL sold on the metal, and Patricia agreed to look into other options that provide the more defined line, shadow, and look of the lapped wood as he originally intended. But I’m taking Richard’s side on this one.

With a few days until closing we stopped at the house to make sure all was well, and again a car pulled up and a woman was at the door. Yet another buyer trolling the property? To our delight she was not there to buy it. She had lived in the house 25 years ago and was just stopping to have a look. She reminisced about her time growing up in the house and people in the neighborhood, and she remembered a lot about the original interior details.

Patricia had tracked down William Morgan’s original brief, sketches, and photos of the house from the University of Florida School of Architecture archives, but until then Richard and I didn’t know that originally much of the furniture had been built in (master bed and night tables, kids’ beds and desks, stereo cabinet). Our visitor even remembered William Morgan’s chairs they kept out by the pool!


Sigh, I could have pictured myself sitting by the pool with a bouffant hairdo and cat eye sunglasses in one of those chairs. This house sure stays with people. I hope our kids will be back in 25 years with such strong memories. We feel pretty strongly now, we’ll probably go ahead and buy it.

I had contacted the AIA president (who I met on the walking tour) about meeting William Morgan. She said she’d have him call our architect, and the following week Patricia got a call from Mrs. Morgan to schedule a meeting for the next day. Despite the short notice we all dropped what we had planned – Patricia, an architect colleague of Patricia’s, Jorge and I. Richard had to work. Jorge brought the William Morgan book he’d purchased for us as a gift, hoping to get it signed.

We met at Mr. Morgan’s house at the beach, next door to his famous Dune House (which is on the market for anyone who’s interested). We spent what was for me a surreal hour talking about his material choices reflecting native northeast Florida materials (coquina, cypress, yellow pine), his thoughts on the pinwheeling design, the ceiling acoustics, the connected spaces. When asked what he did in response to the cypress siding shrinking and pulling out of its tongue and groove joints he answered “drank heavily.”

I got a bit schoolgirl-ish and gushed that as a math minor I loved the symmetry and repetition throughout the design of the number 4. He jumped seamlessly from building materials into an explanation of the golden rectangle, the Fibonacci series, nautilus shells, and Le Corbusier’s continuous museum.

He explained that he positioned the home to take advantage of the views, which I hadn’t thought about because the vegetation has grown in areas and screened the view. Patricia showed him the photos that Tony had taken, and he suggested removing plantings along the base of the house to showcase the horizontal versus vertical planes that you see when viewing the home.

After the meeting our little group stood outside Mr. Morgan’s home talking about how people live in spaces and how those spaces affect our lives. Can’t help but think beyond the house to the lives we want to live. Oh yeah, and Mr. Morgan signed the book for Richard and me. Jeez we really, really might have to buy it.

The walking tour was a hoot. I’d been sitting in the little theater where the 40 odd people were gathering for all of a few minutes when I overheard a woman say “did you know one of Bill Morgan’s houses is on the market…for a steal!” Ack, my house! For the rest of the three hour tour (which now that I think of it did smack a bit of Gilligan’s Island) I listened and learned about William Morgan’s work but also stole moments to talk to the woman who was telling perfect strangers to buy our house. Ends up she is the president of the local AIA, knows William Morgan, and offered to introduce us. What a delight to meet her!

I called Tamara. We had planned to engage her for our structural work anyway in this imaginary project, and here she already had knowledge of the house! She stopped by a few evenings later to talk with us about the house, a budget, and provide names of possible contractors who would be right for this unique project. She also mentioned the word “docomomo,” which I’d never heard before.

The next day my business partner called to ask the name of the architect. When I responded “William Morgan,” she told me she saw an article about him in that morning’s paper. That afternoon, our next door neighbor stopped over with a copy of the article, which said the local AIA (American Institute of Architects) had organized a walking tour of William Morgan public sites. Then I went online to research DOCOMOMO (an organization that promotes documentation and conservation of buildings reflecting the Modern Movement) and discovered that the William Morgan tour was in recognition of Docomomo’s annual day in October to highlight and celebrate modern architecture. Really, c’mon, do we need to be hit over the head?

I got home from work to be handed the telephone by Richard without explanation. After my tentative hello I got the response “Holy crap! It’s a Bill Morgan! You’ve gotta get it!” It was our friend Diane. I didn’t know earlier that day Richard had taken her husband Jorge by the house. After they broke in a loose door to have a look around, Jorge had gone home, pulled his William Morgan book off the shelf, flipped it open in front of Diane and said “I was in that house today.” Hence the call.

What I didn’t know until then is that William Morgan is famous in the Jacksonville area for his modern design; what I did know is that Diane and Jorge run Brunet-Garcia Advertising, are creative, and are plugged in. We had rummaged around in the ho hum housing market and found a treasure.