My earliest memory of hearing about Rush Creek Village was during a mushroom hunting expedition with my mother and her friend, Martha Wakefield at the early age of six. Martha was enthusiastically relating her experiences at Taliesin and the teachings of Frank Lloyd Wright. My parents were both artists and followers of organic architecture and soon, the topic of an entire community based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence dominated their conversations. When Martha and Richard Wakefield invested their resources into developing Rush Creek, my parents purchased a lot and began working with Ted VanFossen, the architect associated with Rush Creek, to design their home. It took over six years to realize their dream and finally move into the Tower House at the entrance to Rush Creek on South Street. It was a 5-story structure with 3 bedrooms and a studio on the ground level where my father worked as a commercial illustrator.
During those years while Rush Creek was being developed, the relationship between the Turners and the Wakefields grew. Soon I was knee-deep in mud helping Dick dig footer forms for several of the homes’ foundations. Other work had my head spinning from exposure to the fumes of stain and polyurethane from long hours of finishing the many cubby-holes and the built-in mahogany and cypress furniture.
The building of the Tower House was a visual affront to many of Worthington’s leaders who felt threatened by the new architecture. Rush Creek was as far from the colonial and conservative-themed community as one could imagine. Rush Creek became known as “Kook Valley” in the press and throughout the area while it was being developed. Feeling threatened with the un-conventional, bohemian life-styles of those attracted to the new development (artists, pacifists, peoples of different races and color) Worthington’s leaders quickly developed new boundaries to stop any further contagion of “kooky-styled” homes and architecture invading their community. It was a long time before the community recognized the value of Rush Creek.
During my pursuit of photography studies at The Ohio State University, I focused on the community of Rush Creek as a subject for a class assignment. It was early enough in the development that I was able to capture visuals of the homes in their early days – before the landscaping matured to the point where the homes are now almost hidden. Little did I know the value of these early photos.
When I graduated, I began my photography business and moved out of the Tower House and onto Dick Wakefield’s property where he built a home for his parents. In that house was an efficiency apartment on the ground level where I lived for two years.
My parents continued to live in the Tower House until 1976, when the stairs became too difficult for them, and moved into another Wakefield home on Pocono Road, just north of Worthington, where Dick had built some spec ranch homes. They lived there until 1999, where their love for all things Frank Lloyd Wright continued.
My experiences with Rush Creek, the Wakefields and Ted VanFossen influenced my interest in the aesthetics of fine architecture. It was a valuable education and to this day has helped me in my work in architectural photography.
I’m excited to have my student photos be part of an upcoming exhibit at the McConnell Arts Center in Worthington from August 21st through October 28. For more information on that exhibit, please see http://www.mcconnellarts.org/wp/archives/15625
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