Sanford House is a pretty lucky place. Because we help women recover from addiction, and we are located in an amazing city. As the summer intern, I spend a lot of my time researching excursions to take the women of Sanford House on, and we have a lot of options – both town and country. I also carry a camera with me wherever I go to photograph the experience. Around the corner from the treatment center, we have a fully restored Frank Lloyd Wright house. The workplace furniture company, Steelcase, purchased the home and brought it back to its original 1915 splendor.
Well Deserved Respite
The tour is a great outing for the women and a well deserved respite from the challenges in treatment. The Meyer May house is in the heart of the historic district in Grand Rapids called Heritage Hill and a good fifteen minute walk from Sanford House. The Prairie style created by the famously eccentric Frank Lloyd Wright, was thought to be the eyesore of the neighborhood at the time. Now it is a tourist attraction. The home was originally built for clothing store tycoon Meyer May who was a successful business and family man of Grand Rapids.
Wright was controlling (to say the least) and he liked to have his hand in the design of everything. From the windows to the carpet and furniture Wright supervised everything in the house. He incorporated repeating designs that appear throughout the house to create a sense of familiarity and comfort. The most common design seen throughout the house is the pattern of a circle inside a square. This was the architect’s favorite design pairing. He even incorporated it into his signature.
The house had several owners, and additions were added haphazardly throughout the years. In 1985 Steelcase began a two year restoration. The beautiful Meyer May house was brought back to its original glory. Additions were removed, a custom 14 ton steel roof support system was installed, and vintage materials were found and used.
From our house to yours, Frank Lloyd Wright. The Meyer May house, with its mix of organic and man-made design, is a shining example of how a comfortable environment can soothe the women of Sanford House who are new to recovery.
All photos by author Monica Bussell
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