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Frank Lloyd Wright dream house for Marilyn Monroe

The third time’s a charm as the old saying goes…but this time it was the fourth time… eh??

My brother Rodney played vacation golf on Maui, sent a picture of the clubhouse & we researched the history of how organic architecture came to Maui.  Above, Frank Lloyd Wright's drawing of the "Marilyn Monroe house"... running brook and all.
My brother Rodney played vacation golf on Maui, sent a picture of the clubhouse & we researched the history of how organic architecture came to Maui. Above, Frank Lloyd Wright's drawing of the "Marilyn Monroe house"... running brook and all.
Cool curves: The sinuous shapes of the clubhouse and its porthole windows provide a spaceship-on-earth feeling.

A golf clubhouse borrows plans that Frank Lloyd Wright drew for Marilyn Monroe

My brother Rodney played golf on a vacation to Maui, sent me a picture of the clubhouse and I did some research to learn the history of how organic architecture came to Maui. This story ran in a local newspaper in 2006. Enjoy this Frank Lloyd Wright meets Marilyn Monroe story… courtesy of the Waikapu, Maui Star-Bulletin’s Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi as a special story. It’s been shortened a bit to fit our specific interest.

A vacation home

If conditions had been different, the impressive Frank Lloyd Wright rose-colored Organic Architecture building that stands in Waikapu, in the slopes of the West Maui Mountains, might have wound up as a vacation home for Marilyn Monroe and her playwright-husband Arthur Miller -- instead of the golf clubhouse that's the centerpiece of The King Kamehameha Golf Club.

The popular jet-setting couple asked renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1957, to design a get-away for them near one of their favorite spots, rustic Roxbury, Conn.

The original home design modified, put on hold for third time

Wright fetched a favorite design he'd tried to build two times before -- in 1949 as a extravagant home for a well-off family in Fort Worth, Texas; then three years later as a residence for a Mexican Cabinet official on the bluffs of Acapulco Bay. Each of the projects had been stopped before construction commenced.

For the Marilyn Monroe –Arthur Miller get-away retreat, Frank Lloyd Wright and his design team modified the drawings to include, a cinema with a film vault, a nursery and a swimming pool with a gentle slope leading to a babbling brook among other Organic Architecture features,.

However, as the famous couple's marriage melted in 1958, so also did their vision of constructing the 10,000- to 14,000-square-foot rural manor. Frank Lloyd Wright died in 1959, and for the next 30 some years, the design drawings were labeled the “Marilyn Monroe house” and stuck away in Taliesin West archives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“Marilyn Monroe house” reborn

The Frank Lloyd Wright design was resurrected In 1988 when Hawaii golf enthusiasts and entrepreneurs Howard Hamamoto and Masaru "Pundy" Yokouchi and their Tokyo business partner, Takeshi Sekiguchi, visited Taliesin West, the Frank Lloyd Wright studio which maintained in archives the third-time unconstructed house.

The partner businessmen had planned two golf courses in Waikapu -- Sandalwood (now Kahili) Golf Course and the Waikapu Valley Country Club (now The King Kamehameha Golf Club) -- and envisioned the latter's clubhouse to be an attraction in itself.

The three partners concentrated on Wright design drawings that had never been executed. Taliesin West architects suggested the "Marilyn Monroe house"; replicating the sophistication and formality of a manor, they thought it would be a perfect choice.

Fascinating Wright design inspired golf clubhouse completed 1993

The 75,000-square-foot golf clubhouse, finished in May 1993 at a cost of $27 million, keeps the honesty of Wright's Organic Architecture design philosophy. Taliesin West's John Rattenbury, a Wright-trained apprentice and the architect of record, labels it as "one of the most fascinating and challenging projects I have ever worked on."

Rattenbury and his Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired team had to significantly swell Wright's original work, as well as make alterations for its undulating site location.

"To preserve the original scale and proportions, we put two-thirds of the building underground," Rattenbury recalls. In keeping with Frank Lloyd Wright and his Organic Architecture design philosophy, this was quite appropriate. The old master would probably have done the same… and we believe Marilyn Monroe would probably join the golf clubhouse if she were alive today

And now my golf enthusiast brother Rodney Howald can say he’s related to Marilyn Monroe ….if only by experiencing part of her Dream Home designed in part by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Source: Waikapu, Maui Star-Bulletin, Vol. 11, Issue 184 - Monday, July 3, 2006

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