Adventures in the Villa


Marcel Breuer

2017-09-23 Westbound; On to Washington and the Grand Coulee Dam…

We left Couer d’ Alene early this morning; Brent came out to wish us well:

2017-09-22 Idaho 05 Walters Phil and Brent

We stopped for fuel early; Washington welcomed us:

2017-09-23 Map Washington

Only two more States to visit before we return to California!

We then set our across the countryside of Eastern Washington;

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2017-09-23 Washington 02

I’m not suggesting that Eastern Washington is boring… Wait – yes, I am…

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We soon arrived at our destination: The Grand Coulee Dam:

2017-09-23 Grand Coulee Dam 19

I thought something was odd.  This is not what I remember from when I was here in 1956… I remembered a long, wide dam, with a simple, straight-forward design.  What was this strange dog-leg off to the left?

We stopped into the Visitors Center (Marcel Breuer, architect).

2017-09-23 Grand Coulee Dam 01 Visitors Center

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We soon found out that in 1967 the left 250′ of the dam was removed and the new dog-leg portion was added; it includes a third powerhouse, allowing the dam to be more efficient and produce more electrical power.

The Grand Coulee Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Columbia River, built to produce hydroelectric power and provide irrigation water. Constructed between 1933 and 1942, plus the “remodel” from 1967 to 1974, Grand Coulee Dam is the largest power station in the United States, with a capacity of 6,809 MW.  (Hoover Dam produces 2,078 MW…)  It is 550′ tall and 5,223 wide.  (Hoover Dam is 726′ high, but only 1,244′ wide…)  The dam is the second largest concrete structure in the world, containing almost 12,000,000 cu. yds. of concrete.  (Hoover Dam contains 3,250,000 cu. yds…)

Power from the dam fueled the growing industries of the Northwest United States during World War II.  As the center-piece of the Columbia Basin Project, the dam’s reservoir supplies water for the irrigation of 671,000 acres.

The reservoir behind the dam is called Franklin Delano Roosevelt Lake. Creation of the reservoir forced the relocation of over 3,000 people, including Native Americans whose ancestral lands were partially flooded.  While the dam does not contain fish-ladders, neither does the next down-stream dam, Chief Joseph Dam.  This means that no salmon ever reach the Grand Coulee Dam, making the issue moot.

We joined a tour of the powerhouse #1, along with the treat of being able to be driven across the top of the dam.  (The roadway atop the dam is closed to public traffic…)  We saw the pumps and generating turbines inside the powerhouse, and had opportunity to take photos of the surrounding areas from atop the dam.

2017-09-23 Grand Coulee Dam 03 Powerhouse

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2017-09-23 Grand Coulee Dam 07 Powerhouse 3

2017-09-23 Grand Coulee Dam 04 Spillway

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After the tour we walked across the bridge below the dam.  It contained many photo boards describing the surrounding geology (fun for Lynda) and the construction of the dam (fun for me…).

After viewing the dam, we checked into the RV park nearby; it is Saturday, so: Football!

2017-09-23 Saturday College Football

We took a break from football from time to time to walk about the neighborhood.  On one such walk we found some wild turkeys:

2017-09-23 Grand Coulee Dam 59 Turkeys

In the evening we drove back to the dam; they have a laser light show projected onto the dam, but what I wanted to see was the release of eater over the spillways.  We arrived about 8:15; the parking lot was mostly full, and people were milling about.  At about 8:25 they shut off most of the lights in the area and opened the spillways.  We could see the “whitewater” cover the face of the dam.  Unfortunately, they never used the thousands of flood lights mounted around the dam to light up the water.  So, while we could see the water, we could only see it dimly.

The laser show started.  It was not much of a big deal.  It told the story of the dam through giant speakers mounted about 6 feet from where we were sitting… The laser show was mostly the drawing of stick figures on the face of the dam to illustrate the story.  We won’t be back…

So we returned to the Villa in the dark.  An enjoyable time was had by all…











2017-07-15 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Lexington, Concord, and The Shot Heard ‘Round the World; Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer…

We had a free day to explore the region. We chose to tour Concord and Lexington.  After driving to Lexington we joined a trolley ride for a 90 minute to drive along the roads between Lexington and Concord; our guide told us the history of the Battle of Concord and Lexington, the start of the War for Independence.


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Our trolley tour told of the first shots fired – it was it Lexington, but no one knows who fired first.  Paul Revere and William Dawes had ridden in from Boston to warn the town that the British were coming. (Although everyone here was British at the time…)

Also, because Longfellow told us, everyone knows:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear 
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, 
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five; 
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year. 


In 1896 Helen F. Moore, dismayed that William Dawes had been forgotten by Longfellow, penned a parody of Longfellow’s poem:

‘Tis all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear—
My name was Dawes and his Revere.

Revere was arrested, but the word was out. The main confrontation occurred in Concord, as memorialized in the first verse of the Concord Hymn:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

We walked along the area of the first battle, and across the bridge. (Not the original bridge…):

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 01a

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There are graves of British here, too:

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Along the trolley tour we saw the houses of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  Thoreau’s house is about 1 1/2 miles from Walden Pond, so for all those months when Thoreau was isolated and alone at the pond, he usually walked home for dinner in the evening…

We walked about to see several historic houses in Lexington; this is the house that Revere (and Dawes) were riding to:

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I know it’s a really old house, but this house (especially the door…) needs some attention:

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The Munroe Tavern was occupied by the British as their headquarters:

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After our memories of the history of the war with the British were refreshed, we needed to be refreshed with a little French food:

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We walked about the town a bit, and headed back to the truck:

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I had been in this area in 2008, on a bus tour, but not to see historic sights; we were here to see architecture.  I recalled a neighborhood of modernist houses, but I didn’t know where they were or whose houses they were.  I did remember the bus driver pointing out Walden Pond, so I thought we should check out the area and see what we could find.

We easily found the pond.  So I tried turning down some small roads to see what we could find; on my second try we found it!

This is the Walter Gropius house:

2017-07-15 Gropius 02

Walter Gropius founded The Bauhaus in Germany in the 1920s, revolutionizing modern architecture around the world. Apparently, the Germans were not impressed, because they closed The Bauhaus and Gropius fled Germany in the 1930s. After a time as a refugee in London, Gropius was hired to head Harvard’s Architecture Department.  As his fame and influence spread, a nice lady offered Gropius $20,000 and 4 1/2 acres of land for him to build himself a house; here it is:

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It is Gropius’ idea of a modern New England cottage; wood siding, but vertical, not horizontal; also, horizontal windows, not vertical. Flat roof, not pitched… Plus an angled front porch and a spiral stair just for fun.

Inside the house is wonderful; the entry hall with the traditional center stair:

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The study, with an interior wall of glass block to share light with the Dining Room beyond:

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The Dining Room, with the screened porch beyond:

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Upstairs is a lovely deck, with one wall painted his custom-designed color, Bauhaus Pink:

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And the view down from the deck towards the screened porch:

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After all, what says “New England cottage” more than a screened porch?

Other views around the house:


Much of the furniture inside the house was designed by Gropius’ colleague, Marcel Breuer.  Breuer was also given land next door to build his house, along with three other people this lady with the land liked… The other houses are privately owned and were not open, but back in 2008 we were permitted to walk the grounds.

Walter Gropius and his wife lived in the house until their deaths in 1969 and 1980, whereupon it was donated to the Historic Society…

We headed back to the Villa and enjoyed another GAM (Get Acquainted Meeting) with the other caravanners… Once again, an enjoyable time was had by all…

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