September 1, 2010 Mid-Century Modern

Modern Snapshot: Gropius-Designed House in Lake Barcroft

Walter Gropius in Lake Barcroft

The Walter Gropius-designed house in Lake Barcroft. Photos by Michael Cook.

In my post yesterday, I mentioned a house in Lake Barcroft by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. Col. Joseph Barger, the developer of Lake Barcroft, bought the 135-acre lake and surrounding 566 aces for $1 million in 1950. In an effort to bring some cachet to the development that was being built (at the time) in rural Virginia, Barger reached out to mid-century modern architect Charles Goodman (who designed the first house in the community; it has since been significantly altered) and Gropius, who reportedly mapped out ideas for the development, according to an interesting 2001 history of the community written by longtime resident Anthony Bracken.

Gropius house in lake Barcroft

“A resourceful entrepreneur, Barger used every means possible to promote his projects,” Bracken writes. “In this case, he called on an acquaintance, internationally renowned architect Walter Gropius, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Architecture and Design. … His plan reportedly included designing four moderately priced, three-bedroom, two bathroom ramblers in four different price ranges. Each house would feature separate areas for sleep, work and play. It would seem that Gropius was prescient in recognizing the need for communal nurseries and, at the same time, aware of the changing culture in the fifties, when a barbecue in the back yard was the rage. However, only one Gropius house—located at 6325 Lakeview Drive—was ever designed and built. It is not clear if the design was actually put to blueprints or if it was merely the result of sketches on a napkin. In any case, the house was expensive at the time and difficult to sell.”

Thanks to Modern Capital sponsor Michael Cook for the shots of the house by the modern master Gropius. (The house is not listed for sale.)