Harmonious Spirit of George Washington Maher
More information about the Maher Walnut Paneled Room: CLICK HERE
After 25 years, Architectural Antiques has the chance to save George W. Maher's work once again. When our salvage team drove the truck leaving for Kenilworth, Illinois, we can't help recalling Rockledge.
(StarTribune news on Rockledge)
In 1911, Maher designed Rockledge located outside of Winona, Minnesota. His designs were all inclusive; from the lavish interiors to nearly every object that could be used in this house including chairs, vases, lamps, clocks, and even the silverware. Maher also created a distinctive design for the King family. The river bluff that was part of the natural scenery surrounding Rockledge and a lily motif was the inspiration to provide a visual rhythm throughout the home.
The construction of Rockledge was completed around 1912. In 1921, merely 10 years after Maher designed the house, the Kings redesigned it, and with this remodel, Maher's creation of hard work was locked in a barn for the next 40 years. In 1987, the King family decided to tear down Rockledge. Architectural Antiques bought the salvage rights and saved many pieces of this extravagant Prairie Style home.
(Photos of museum exhibitions)
Twenty-five years later, another Maher's masterpiece has found its way to Architectural Antiques, and like Rochledge, we knew we had to save it. The value of Maher's work can't be merely measured by its beauty and craftsmanship. As a representative of Prairie School architectural movement, Maher's design philosophy expresses an idea rather than traditional architectural forms. He brought in surrounding nature and landscape as a motif for decorations in the building. By repeating a few motifs consistently throughout the house and visual expression of natural materials, Maher created a harmony between inhabitants and nature. From this perspective, Maher is a pioneer of getting out of the cold and unimaginative Industrial Revolution impacts.
For Architectural Antiques, salvaging Maher's work doesn't only mean saving the history of the Prairie School revolution, but also saving Maher's spirit of being harmonious with and being inspired by nature. Today, we come to salvage another Maher's creation in Kenilworth, where he built his own home. Different from many modern architects, the house is exquisite and cohesive in every interior detail. During the salvage, we not only felt sad about Maher's efforts being neglected and discarded but also can't help questioning why we don't build such artwork-like creation anymore?
Many pieces from Rockledge have been preserved in museums. If you would like to visit them, here is an incomplete list of the museums:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/2588
Minnesota Historical Society: http://www.mnhs.org/library/collections/museum/mf000937.php
Milwaukee Art Museum: http://collection.mam.org/artist.php?id=283
Detroit Institute of Arts: http://www.dia.org/object-info/053446ee-83e1-44c4-88c8-59498a385173.aspx?position=253
Musem of Fine Arts Boston: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/rocking-chair-44265
Cooper Hewitt: https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18651445/
Carnegie Museum of Art: http://www.cmoa.org/CollectionDetail.aspx?item=79343