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Architectural Charm from a Wright Roof

FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 2013

By Jill M. Speegle

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Attention, architecture and jewelry lovers!

For just shy of $50, you could be the lucky owner of a piece of handcrafted jewelry—and architectural history—salvaged from a design by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright.

That’s right. In 1994, a portion of the historic copper-roofed First Unitarian Society Meeting House in Madison, WI, designed by Wright, was replaced as a result of leak and moisture problems.

But just as the naturally patinated copper sheets were hauled off site, a savvy artist procured the scrap to create sculptural works and a limited-edition line of jewelry.

First Unitarian Society Meeting House

 Flickr User tinydr

The Unitarian Meeting House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1946.

Scott Lesh, founder of LeDanse Limited Edition Jewelry, now offers the Wright-inspired earrings and pendants on designwithbenefits.com, a new site that promotes products and social efforts that use design to solve pressing global issues.

The artist’s copper forms are wrapped in sterling silver, and many feature freshwater pearls. The jewelry is described as “a timeless design with a significant history.”

The Church

Wright was commissioned to design the Meeting House in 1946; construction was completed in 1951.

The one-story limestone, copper and glass building is recognized as one of the most innovative examples of church architecture. In 1960, the American Institute of Architects honored the church as one of 17 buildings to be preserved as an example of Wright’s contribution to American culture.

Design With Benefits

 Design With Benefits

Scott Lesh’s Copper Suite Jewelry is made from an historic Frank Lloyd Wright roof.

The Meeting House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a declared National Historic Landmark. Extensive repairs and restoration on the church have been completed over the years, including the roof project.

An expansion of the Meeting House campus, designed by Kubala Washatko Architects, was completed in September 2008. The project won an AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Project award in 2011.

Roof for a Roof

A portion of the jewelry proceeds is donated to help house the homeless, according to Design With Benefits and the artist.

“In this act of giving,” says the artist, “we partake in a kind of social poetry whereby the removal and transformation of one roof serves to place a roof over the heads of people in need.”


Jill M. Speegle

Jill Speegle is the Editor of Durability + Design News. She earned her B.A. in journalism and English as well as her J.D. from the University of Arkansas. In Sketches, Jill shares her thoughts on a number of topics that may be of interest to the D+D community, including architecture, interior design, green building, historic restoration, and whatever else catches her radar.



Tagged categories: Aesthetics; Architects; Architectural history; Architecture; Building materials; Churches; Copper; Design; Frank Lloyd Wright; Historic Preservation; Recycled building materials; Roofing materials

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