May House - Grand Rapids, MI
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member S5280ft
N 42° 57.242 W 085° 39.539
16T E 609386 N 4756582
Quick Description: Located on the northeast corner of Madison and Logan Streets. Streetside parking available.
Location: Michigan, United States
Date Posted: 3/23/2007 5:00:23 PM
Waymark Code: WM1BA0
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Rayman
Views: 323

Long Description:
Historic Marker Text:
This house was built in 1908-1909 for local clothier Meyer S. May and his wife, Sophie Amberg. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the house in the Prairie style. It was his first major commission in Michigan. May was the son of Abraham May, founder of A. May and Sons clothing store. In 1906, Meyer became president of the store, which was the first in the nation to display clothes on Batts hangers. Meyer May lived here until his death in 1936. The house was used as a private residence until 1985. In 1986, Steelcase Incorporated began the complete restoration of the house, its interior and grounds.

From the State of Michigan Historic Preservation office website:

Narrative Description:
The Meyer May House is a two-story, T-plan, Prairie style residence built in 1909. The shallowly hipped roof, originally covered with red tiles, terminates in broad overhangs emphasizing the horizontality and hovering quality of the house as a shelter. The tan brick is laid with raked horizontal joints and flush vertical joints to emphasize the horizontal lines. Limestone is used as trim, including a limestone base, low banding, garden wall caps, and cap level banding, and banding at the second floor window sill level, all again emphasizing the low horizontal character of the house. Copper used in the soffit and fascia trim and elaborate window trim is left to obtain the natural green patina. Leaded and colored glass accented casement windows and doors open out to terraces and gardens with garden walls and planters all incorporated into the design to intermingle the interior and exterior. The interior plan flows freely with an open quality. Wood trim emphasizes the plasticity of space leading from room to room while unifying various elements. Wright hired George M. Niedecken of the Milwaukee firm of Niedecken-Walbridge Company to supervise and execute the interior decorating details. Niedecken was a talented decorative painter and executed the mural in the May House dining room. The Steelcase Corporation has undertaken the complete restoration of the May House.

Statement of Significance:
The Meyer May House in Grand Rapids has architectural significance as the work of nationally-distinguished architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867?-1959), and as Wright's first large commission in Michigan and one of only two residential structures (other than resort cottages) in Michigan from Wright Prairie style period. It has historical significance for its association with prominent merchant Meyer May of Grand Rapids, an independent innovative Grand Rapids merchant who commissioned Wright to plan his magnificent house in Grand Rapids for himself and his wife, Sophie Amberg May. Meyer May (1873-1936) and his wife Sophie Amberg, married in 1900, were both from enterprising Jewish merchant families. May's father, Abraham May, founded the Giant Clothing Store that later became A. May and Sons. After two years at the University of Michigan, Meyer joined his father's business in 1892, quickly assumed executive status, and became president of Abraham May and Sons at his father's death in 1906. The Meyer May House retains importance as a Frank Lloyd Wright commission adn as one of his earliest in the State of Michigan. The house is one of the most completely restored of Wright's revolutionary Prairie style residences in the country.
Year Completed: 1909

Commissioned By: Meyer S. May and his wife, Sophie Amberg

Nearest City or Town: Grand Rapids, MI

Public/Private: Public

Tours Available?: yes

Website: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
There are no specific visit requirements, however telling about your visit is strongly encouraged. Additional photos of the building or house to add to the gallery are also nice, but not required. Pictures with a GPS or you in them is highly discouraged.
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