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F. L. Wright's Meyer May House, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, MI

Excellence - The Meyer May House

Jul 22, 2013 by Bonnie

Last week we visited the Meyer May house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in Grand Rapids. As we watched the video about the house’s restoration, and then toured the magnificently restored home, the word “excellence” kept coming to my mind.

While Wright’s personal life left much to be desired, there is no doubt that he developed his God-given gifts with diligence and care, in his professional life. The May house claims to be the most faithfully restored of Wright’s works, and there is a reason for that too. While other Wright homes and buildings open to the public are mostly dependent on grants, donations, and admission fees for their restoration and maintenance, the May house is owned by a corporation, Steelcase, which funded the restoration and also maintains the home. They also open the home to the public for tours several days a week without charging an admission fee. I believe this is the only Wright property that gives tours free to the public, so if you get the chance, take the tour—you won’t regret it.

Excellence. While watching the May house video,I was impressed with the perseverance exhibited by those in charge of the process of restoration, and the skill and patience of the craftsmen who restored the building and furnishings. Some items were restored and in other cases identical items remade; it was nearly impossible to tell which was which when we saw the actual items as we toured the house. No figure was given, but the cost to Steelcase must have been enormous. In today’s climate of class envy, it is fashionable to vilify corporations for their greed, but I couldn’t help but reflect that it is excellence and perseverance in doing business that makes them profitable enough to be able to fund all kinds of charities and foundations that benefit the general public.

I have said before that I thoroughly enjoy seeing beautiful things, both natural and man-made, without feeling the need to own them. I realized that this enjoyment comes with a challenge—to live my own life striving for excellence in everything I do. My dear husband is much better at this than I am. I am amazed at his tenacity and diligence. I, on the other hand, though blessed with a good mind, realized at a young age that school was easy and formed the habit of doing just enough. Oh, I loved school and got good grades, but it was never hard work for me to excel in that area, so I came to develop the habit (unconsciously) of not attempting hard things, and not striving for excellence.

The trip to Meyer May house reminded me of Solomon’s exhortation in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might . . .” and Paul’s in Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” I am challenged to not only do my best in whatever God calls me to do, but to also, with Paul, “. . . count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil. 3:8)

Meyer May House1
David and Amy visit in the Wright built living room
Meyer May House3
Dining room table with pillar corners for mood lighting
Meyer May House2
The main fireplace in the living area of the Wright built living room.