Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Big Plans - Gustafson Home

The Gustafson Home in Winter
In 1958, Dave and Violet Gustafson commissioned Don Erickson to custom design their home in Winnetka, Illinois. By 2009, the Gustafson home was slated for demolition but prior to the demolition, the estate sales agent found a box of the original plans in the house and contacted me. We were able to retrieve these plans prior to the home's destruction, plans which tell a story about the Gustafson home.

Located at 1055 Starr Road, Winnetka, Illinois, the Gustafson residence was notable for its grand foyer, fireplace,masonry and extensive use of glass windows which illuminated the home with natural light. The stones were “imported” from a quarry in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and the masonry was done by Linari Construction, of Highwood, Illinois while the carpentry was done by Carl I. Bengtson & Sons.

In addition to designing the Gustafson home, Don acted as Owner’s Agent and contracted out the jobs. Don’s designs were sufficiently complicated to cause the ordinary contractor to “turn tail and run;" as Owner Agent, Don and Richard could “hand-hold” the contractors throughout the job.
Don's notes to his client concerning their request for changes
Richard Erickson, chief drafts person to Don from 1954 through 1992, would begin his work using a thumb nail sketch from Don, which detailed the design concept. It was not unusual for this thumb nail sketch to be done on a place mat or napkin...Once the concept was provided, Richard and Don would work collaboratively together to flesh out the drawings. The development of the Gustafson plans followed a similar path. These plans were hand-drawn on tracing paper by Richard over a period of months. The box of plans I now own show the evolution of the house, from the basic sketches required to secure the building permit to the final drawings.
Richard Erickson poring over the Gustafson plans
Notable, too, is the fact that the Gustafson plans were developed at EMMCO Interiors in Des Plaines, Illinois; The EMMCO building appears to have been constructed sometime during 1957, when Don was working “solo,” and not affiliated with a partner. Later, when Don took in a partner and established the firm Erickson & Stevens, Inc., Don was the design lead while his partner’s principal contributions centered around business development.

Please contact me, or provide comments on this page, if you would like to submit information that you may have on the work and/or its history. And, if you would like to contribute to championing the preservation of the Don Erickson Legacy, please email me at the address posted under my profile.

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