‘A Walk in the Sky’ for architects of old | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘A Walk in the Sky’ for architects of old

Sarah Gonser

Far from the maddening crowd, in a treasure-trove still pristine and barely marred by industrious hands, five world-renowned architects were drawn to dream, sketch, plan and build.

They were not thinking about billion dollar, 200-foot skyscrapers; they weren’t planning the next metropolis. What they undertook was a voyage of the imagination which embraced, honored and melded with nature.

“(Theirs was) the practice of acute observation and respect of all things,” wrote Kelly Krolicki, executive producer of a soon-to-be-released 30-minute movie on the subject. “A positive internal journey available to everyone willing to apply certain principles to the challenges of everyday life.”

Krolicki, director of marketing at Hornblower Cruises Lake Tahoe, a San Francisco-based corporation that owns the Tahoe Queen, is working in conjunction with the Tahoe Heritage Foundation to create a film about these five famed architects and what they envisioned, or actually built at Lake Tahoe.

The first of its kind, the project will be shown on the decks of the Tahoe Queen paddlewheeler by the end of June, with brief biographies and overviews of why these creative and famous people were attracted to Tahoe, what they envisioned and how their designs survived the test of time.

A historical voyage through time, the film touches on the following architects:

–Julia Morgan, 1872-1957, Bay Area architect of the William Randolph Hearst Castle at San Simeon, designed a comfortable summer home near Edgewood Golf Course.

–Bernard Ralph Maybeck, 1862-1957, a native New Yorker and architect of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, built modest cabins and other structures at Glen Alpine Resort in exchange for free board.

–Frederic DeLongchamps, who was born in Reno on June 2, 1882 and died in Reno in 1969, built the Whittell Estate Thunderbird Lodge. For three years, 100 stonemasons helped create the home in the midst of a 45,000 acre East Shore estate with 29 miles of shoreline. The estate sold in 1998 for $50 million, creating a United States record for the price of a private home.

–William Wurster, 1895-1973, San Francisco architect of Ghirardelli Square, designed two Tahoe homes. Although the plans and sketches exist, the actual addresses of the homes are still unclear.

–Frank Lloyd Wright, 1867-1959, Wisconsin-born architect with at least 500 buildings to his name, created dream-like renderings for a Summer Colony at Emerald Bay.

Gathering information and then narrowing it down to create a focussed, organized film was a tedious and challenging task, Krolicki said.

“It was pretty elitist back then. These architects ran in high-class circles, they designed these homes for their friends, a lot of the information is lost or very hard to come by,” she explained. “The most frustrating thing is that there are no good historical records of these things in Tahoe. You basically have to go to U.C. libraries across the state to get this information.”

The project is not intended as a map to the homes of the rich and famous, Krolicki stresses, but instead provides an entirely new way of exploring the lake and its history. From a marketing point of view, uncovering this architectural history will open new doors as well.

“This film puts tour-boating and going out on the lake in a whole new light,” said Mike Weber, general manager of Hornblower Cruises Lake Tahoe. “For locals and tourists, this is a story no one has ever told. We want this to become a focal point for people to hone in on, a new image for South Shore.”

Although Hornblower will own the rights to the movie, distribution proceeds will benefit the Tahoe Heritage Foundation. A fund-raiser for the unfinished project is scheduled June 2, at Fresh Ketch Lakeside Restaurant.

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