May 19, 2014 Mid-Century Modern
From the Archive: The Gropius House
To mark Walter Gropius’ birthday (May 18, 1883) I thought I would pull this post out from the archive. When Gropius first came to the United States in 1937 to teach at Harvard, he and his wife rented a Colonial in Lincoln, Mass. Thankfully, philanthropist Helen Storrow provided Gropius with four acres of land and provided financing so the founder of the Bauhaus could construct a proper modern house for his family, albeit with touches of New England. “In designing the house, Gropius combined traditional elements of New England architecture such as clapboard, brick, and fieldstone, with new, innovative materials, some of them industrial, such as glass block, acoustical plaster, and chromed banisters, along with the latest technology in fixtures,” according to a history of the house by Historic New England, which owns and operates the property. “The design of the Gropius House is consistent with Bauhaus philosophies of simplicity, functionality, economy, geometry, and aesthetic beauty determined by materials rather than applied ornamentation.”
A shot below of the entrance, protected by a wall of glass block. The curved stairway leads to the room Gropius’ daughter, Ati, who wanted her own entrance. The window near the stairs is Gropius’ office so he could keep an eye on her comings and goings.
Unfortunately, pictures are not permitted inside the house. The interior and the furnishings are kept closely to how Gropius and his wife, Ise, maintained the house. (Ise lived there until she died in 1983; Walter died in 1969.) Gropius’ eyeglasses sit on his desk in his office while the collection of early furniture by Bauhaus alum and neighbor Marcel Breuer is on full display. The Womb chair in the picture of the living below was given to Gropius on his 70th birthday by Eero Saarinen.
Ati wanted a room with no ceiling. Her father designed a deck off her second-story bedroom.
The Japanese-inspired garden in the back of the house was planted by Ise in 1957 after a trip to Asia.
A view of the front of the house from the apple orchard.
Below is a shot of Marcel Breuer’s house just down the block. It is privately owned.