Being a passionate fan of midcentury architecture and design sometimes means having to watch homes and buildings from the era undergo questionable updates or be torn down to make way for something new. The book Moving Sam Maloof: Saving an American Woodworking Legend’s Home & Workshops (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.), written Ann Kovara, on-site construction manager for the Maloof Relocation Project, captures the efforts of a range of government agencies, construction firms and experts to preserve the craftsman’s home (who, among numerous honors, was a MacArthur Fellow), threatened by a freeway expansion project.
Beyond the practicalities of moving a compound featuring residential spaces, workshops, offices and galleries—from the process of getting the home its protective historical statuses to the details of moving building sections a few miles up a steep hill during a winter storm—the book spotlights the lives and work of Sam, a world-renowned furniture craftsman, and his wife, Alfreda, and how their home reflected both from the time the couple moved to the Alta Loma, California, property in 1953.
“It was here that Sam and Alfreda were inspired to invent their own nurturing, creative environment,” Kovara writes. “The Maloofs worked together at their homestead for almost five decades. Financial success didn’t come to Sam and Alfreda until many years later, but life was good with Sam in the shop and Alfreda in the office, managing Sam’s woodworking business. Under Sam and Alfreda’s care, and as their finances and time allowed, the Maloof family compound grew as Sam added new structures and additional rooms.”
Kovara details these developments, sharing the story of the now-historic buildings while describing how teams worked to figure out how to transfer each structure several miles away to a new spot that would serve not only as the Maloof residence and woodshop, but also as Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts, where the couple’s original home would be a museum. Each building had the craftsman’s special flourishes, including handcrafted latches and hinges, redwood siding and floating brick floors, all of which had to be accounted for in the move.
Today, the foundation campus stands as a testament to not only Sam’s talent as a woodworker but to the life he and Alfreda shared (she died in 1998; he in 2009). Thanks to the work of the Maloof Relocation Project team, foundation visitors can experience that for themselves after taking a ride on SR 210, the freeway that necessitated this move.
Ann Kovara, on-site construction manager for the Maloof Relocation Project, wrote the new book Moving Sam Maloof about the process of moving the renowned woodworker’s historic home. For more information on Moving Sam Maloof: Saving an American Woodworking Legend’s Home & Workshops, visit movingsammaloof.com.
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