A Tribute to Charlie

A Tribute to Charlie

In May of 1999, I sat at my kitchen table opening college graduation gifts. One of the gifts I opened was a business card holder. My father reached for it, wanting to look at it more closely. Upon examining the holder and the enclosed description, my father said to me “You know, your grandpa built a house that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright…” On the front of that holder was a Frank Lloyd Wright pattern. This was definitely news to me! As it turns out, in the early 50’s, my grandfather was building a house for his sister-in-law and her husband on the Southwest side of Fort Wayne, Indiana. As he was constructing their home, he was being observed by a man by the name of John D. Haynes. Mr. Haynes owned property across the street from the build site. After observing my Grandfather and his quality craftsmanship, he asked my Grandfather if he would be interested in building his family’s home. After my grandfather reviewed the prints he accepted the job offer. The Haynes’ home was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Now fast forward to the twenty-first century, when several years ago the couple who purchased the home wanted to interview my grandfather about his memories of constructing the house, on site. I was privileged to be there for the interview. I remember him talking about the woodwork in the home. He recalled that the interior wood that was used on the ceiling was Red Tidewater Cyprus. He said that it was one of the easiest woods to work with. On the day of the interview, he sat in the living room in front of the video camera, and looked up at the ceiling and stated that “ the wood was still just as beautiful 50 years later as it was the day I installed it.” He also told the story about how as the home was under construction, he noticed on the drawings that one wall of the house called for one more course of brick than another wall. He showed this detail to the client. Mr. Haynes insisted that my grandfather build it exactly as shown on the prints.. After all, it was designed by FLW and “FLW didn’t make mistakes”. However, my grandfather explained that if the walls were built as specified it would cause problems once the roof and ceiling were constructed, because the walls would not be level. So, Mr. Hayne’s decided the only way to resolve this issue was to have the Frank Lloyd Wright foundation review the prints. The gentlemen made the trip to Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin to have the prints reviewed. Subsequently, the foundation informed Mr. Haynes that there was an error on the prints. There was an additional course of brick called for on one of the walls. (Now I know where I get my eye for detail !) This year, my grandfather, Master Carpenter, Charles E. Sipe passed away at the age of 92. And although he is gone, his five son’s and many grandchildren still remember and retell his stories; his connection to a little piece of architectural history. Although Charlie is not here anymore, the house still stands. As a matter of fact, the current owners have restored the home and are now sharing the beauty of this jewel. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to spend time in a building that was designed by a famous architect? You can book a stay at the home my Grandpa Charlie helped bring to life. Please visit the following website, if you are interested in knowing more about the John D. Hayne’s house in Fort Wayne, IN. Haynes House What other structures in Indiana were designed by famous architects? Do you know or have any connections to any famous architectural designs? Please share your experiences with us… Submitted By: Melanie Wilhelm

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