Aging in the Wright Place

aging in place

The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.

– Frank Lloyd Wright


Aging in Place

I once wrote that inspiration is like rain, it falls on everyone; some shield themselves with an umbrella, failing to take heed; still others run in doors, avoidance all together—then there are those who walk freely amongst the pour, sensing every drop and giving reverence.

The word “inspiration” comes from the ancients who believed that a breath of divinity is received from the gods by some deserving soul. The key word here is, “deserving.”

Diane and Jay Plesset are just such deserving souls, as they were chosen by the gods one fateful day in November 1999. On a trip from the Bay Area to Portland; to be with her mother who had undergone emergency bypass surgery, Diane came upon a small ad in an airline magazine that would change the course of their lives—and save an iconic structure for history.

Airline Magazine Ad: Gordon House For Sale

Occupied with the thoughts of her mother, Diane picked up an in-flight magazine; perusing it she discovered an ad for the sale of the Gordon House in Oregon. A lifetime fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, Diane tore out the ad and tucked it away in her purse—at that moment, like lightening to the rod, the gods had planted the seed of desire.

Author Robert Grudin noted that to be inspired is to surrender one’s mind to a new force, heedless and powerful abandoning oneself to an irresistible flow, like a canoeist drawn into the main channel of a rapid.


The Journey

Within several weeks Diane had contacted officials and traveled back to see the Gordon House in Oregon. Doing their research the they found the Gordon House and property had been sold to a couple who planned to tear down the iconic structure and rebuild on the property.

Over the course of the next year came an endless litany of calls to concerned parties, meeting with attorneys, county commissioner’s hearings with standing room only, petitions, and input from around the world on what the Gordon House fate should be.

Finally, in early December of 2000, an arrangement was made with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy to purchase the Gordon House for $1 in exchange for tax credit from the State of Oregon.

Diane and Jay were given the right of first refusal to buy because of their efforts in trying to save the house from demolition.

The Evergreen House: “Do you think it’s time for plan B?

Passing through the front-door threshold of the Evergreen Home is literally stepping into someone else’s dream…

The Frank Lloyd Wright inspired home of the Plesset family is not a dream denied—rather it is what the gods entrusted (win-win solution) and intended all along.

With deadlines approaching and impenetrable restrictions by the FLWBC, the original goal of buying the Gordon House, moving it to a purchased lot and living happily ever after became out of reach…Jay asked Diane: “Do you think it’s time for plan B?”

Diane says, “After many fortunate experiences, and numerous challenges, “Evergreen” was finally completed on a site in Oregon City, Oregon, in October 2007, which is only 25 miles from the Gordon House, now located in the Oregon Garden, in Silverton.”


Aging in Place: Award Winning Design

On January 31, 2009, “Evergreen” won the Home Builders Association Excellence Award for Best New Home in its Category. The home is built with aging in place/universal design, and sustainable design features; because the Plessets want this dream to last. And they know great things have no fear of time…


The Gordon House

aging in place

Silverton, Oregon

Frank Lloyd Wright designed this home for Conrad and Evelyn Gordon for their farm on the Willamette River in Wilsonville, Oregon. The ‘T’ shaped home was constructed in 1963 primarily using concrete block solid wall sections, heated and colored concrete floors, cedar, and glass. The house is the only building designed by the famed architect in Oregon and is significant. With the sale of the property in 2000 and the purposed demolition of the house, it became necessary to salvage and move the structure.

The project involved determining the best strategies for salvage, moving, reconstruction within a very short timeline and coordinating work with an assembled group of assisting professionals. Many portions of the building were able to be preserved intact. Other elements were preserved and fitted to new construction that was built to match the original. Some updating was unobtrusively installed including floor heating, electrical, security, insulation, and seismic reinforcement. The house was moved to the Oregon Garden and sited in a similar manner as the original. The house is now open to the public as a resource to be enjoyed by all.

The Survival Guide: Home Remodeling by Diane Plesset, CMKBD, NCIDQ #13029, C.A.P.S.

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