January 11, 2023 655 PM
MARFA — The Judd Foundation recently announced the Block, a complex of six buildings on West El Paso Street where Donald Judd lived and housed his collections, will be closed to visitors until April 14 as the site undergoes several exterior restoration projects.
The Block, as its name suggests, expands across an entire city block and is enclosed by an adobe wall. It is the most popular of Judd Foundation’s sites, receiving a total of 5,500 guests in 2022. In addition to accessing Judd’s home, which once served as an office for the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster Corps, visitors view Judd’s personal collections of books, furniture and artwork as well as the grounds which contain a winter garden, pool and more.
The restoration work beginning at the Block is part of a larger initiative of the foundation to restore its Texas properties overtime. Projects have been prioritized according to need, with both the Block and the Architecture Office being included in phase one.
The work will include the demolition and reconstruction of the winter garden, located in the southwest corner of the Block, which will address a deteriorating foundation and the adobe wall that encloses the garden.
“The bounding walls were built upon foundations dating to the quartermaster’s depot and have proven insufficient for supporting their loads,” said Peter Stanley, director of operations and preservation for the foundation. “With respect to drainage, this has been a historic concern that is heightened by potentially more dramatic rain events in the future.”
Stanley said the foundation intends to work with regional adoberos to secure the adobe bricks for the wall, and more adobe restoration for the site is planned for a later phase.
“This phase is only addressing the winter garden at the southwest corner of the site along the arroyo,” said Stanley. “The perimeter and interior adobe walls will be addressed in a future phase of work.”
Additional grounds work includes drainage upgrades, the installation of a rainwater catchment system, the replacement of the gravel surface across the site, and the restoration of the pool, which will receive an improved filtration system. This will be the first significant restoration of these exterior elements since they were built in the 1970s and 1980s, according to Stanley.
An extensive, buried drainage system will be installed in order to help manage rainwater across the site, collecting the water in underground cisterns for reuse. Stanley said the rainwater catchment efforts offer an opportunity to address the site’s existing flooding problems while improving the overall functionality of the site.
“The priority is to address the periodic ponding of water that occurs during heavy rains. Since we have a garden, cottonwoods and other trees that require water, it simply makes sense to augment our irrigation system with the water we divert,” said Stanley.
Stanley said he is looking forward to restoring the winter garden to Judd’s original design and further securing the site’s valuable artworks and more from the elements, and believes the functional upgrades will also help improve the visitor experience.
“This work will importantly protect the installed spaces from flooding, which is a key component of our mission as we have seen an increase in the type of storms that have the potential to cause flooding,” said Stanley. “Additionally, the gravel that will be used to re-cover the site following the drainage work will be of a kind that is both truer to that which Judd first used and easier for visitors and staff to walk on.”
While guided tours of the Block will be unavailable until April 14, the Judd Studios Tour, which involves entry into Judd’s Architecture Studio, Art Studio, Cobb House and Whyte Building, will be available.
Judd Foundation tours are free for full-time residents of Presidio, Brewster and Jeff Davis counties. To schedule a tour or for more information, visit juddfoundation.org or contact [email protected] or (432) 729-4406.