Monday, July 28, 2014

Day Trips: Visit 4 Knockout Homes by Famous Architects & Designers

By Jacquelin Carnegie - (New York, NY)
The Glass House, Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona furnishings
(photo: Eirik Johnson)
When this talented group of architects and designers first presented their modernist ideas, they were considered outlandish and avant-garde. Over time, their designs became popular and then all-the-rage. Today, their iconic concepts are lauded and praised. It's wonderful to see their work in situ. These famous homes are now house-museums (and National Historic Landmarks), open to the public, and well worth a visit. Go for a day trip or weekend get-away.
DESIGNED BY ARCHITECTS
Massachusetts
GROPIUS HOUSE
68 Baker Bridge Rd; Lincoln, MA; Tel: 781/259-8098; www.historicnewengland.org
Almost everything we think of as modern—from architecture to furniture to painting—came out of the Bauhaus design movement, founded in Germany in 1919 by the architect Walter Gropius. When the Nazis closed the Bauhaus school in 1933, Gropius was invited to teach architecture at Harvard's Graduate School of Design (Philip Johnson and I. M. Pei were his students).
Gropius House (photo: Historic New England)
This modest house, built in 1938, combines Bauhaus concepts with traditional New England architectural elements. The Gropius family's possessions are still in place giving you a good idea of what daily life was like in this uniquely-designed house where such luminaries as Alexander Calder, Joan Miro, Igor Stravinsky, Henry Moore, and Frank Lloyd Wright were guests!
Dine: Whistlestop Café (145 Lincoln Rd, Lincoln, MA; Tel: 781/259-8089) Stay: Lincoln is only about 30 mins from Boston. Charles Hotel (1 Bennett St, Cambridge, MA; Tel: 617/864-1200; www.charleshotel.com)
Getting there: Drive or train from Boston, take a MBTA Commuter Rail (Fitchburg Line) to Lincoln; then a taxi. (The Whistlestop Café is across the street from the station.)
Connecticut
THE GLASS HOUSE - Philip Johnson The Glass House Visitors Center, 199 Elm St., New Canaan, CT; Tel: 203/594-9884; www.theglasshouse.org (Open May thru Nov) 
Renowned architect Philip Johnson took Bauhaus concepts to heart and added his own spin to create one of the most iconic houses in the world. Built in 1949, the Glass House still takes your breath away. For furnishings, Johnson chose a few minimalist Barcelona pieces designed by architect Mies van der Rohe, a former head of the Bauhaus school.
The Glass House, Veil (photo: JCarnegie)
The Glass House ushered the International Style into residential American architecture and into the neighborhood--New Canaan, CT has a plethora of modernist homes. Every two years, the New Canaan Historical Society gives a Modern House Tour. (Veil, a fog sculpture by Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya, was on view at the Glass House in 2014.) 
Dine: New Canaan's Main Street has a wide range of restaurants and cafés. Stay: Roger Sherman Inn (195 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan, CT; Tel: 203/966-4541; www.rogershermaninn.com)
Getting there: Drive or train from New York (Grand Central Station), take a Metro-North train (New Haven Line) to New Canaan; walk across the street to the Visitors Center.
BUILT BY DESIGNERS
New York
American Modern
MANITOGA: The Russel Wright Design Center
584 Route 9D, Garrison, New York; Tel: 845/424-3812; www.russelwrightcenter.org (Open May to Nov) 
Manitoga (photo: G Horton)
Russel Wright, along with his wife Mary, was an acclaimed American designer best known for his ingenious home furnishings line and innovative tableware. (The Iroquois Casual and American Modern china, made from the 1930s to the 50s, is still highly collectible.) Less known is the fact that Wright built a stunning glass house and "designed" the surrounding 75-acre landscape, transforming a once-abandoned quarry site. It's a treat to visit his magnificent home and hike the Wright-designed trails; wear study shoes. (If you fancy Wright's dinnerware, reproduction American Modern is available from Bauer Pottery.) 
Dine: Garrison Cafe Stay: The Garrison Inn (only 4 rooms, so book early)
Getting there: Drive or train from New York (Grand Central Station), take a Metro-North train (Hudson Line) to Garrison Station, then a taxi. (Ollie's Way Taxi, reserve in advance, Tel: 845/265-8294)
New Jersey
THE STICKLEY MUSEUM at Craftsman Farms
2352 Rt. 10-West, # 5, Morris Plains, New Jersey; Tel: 973/540-0311; www.stickleymuseum.org 
(photo: Ray Stubblebine,
 The Craftsman Farms Foundation) 
Visionary furniture designer Gustav Stickley was a major proponent of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. Built in 1911, his New Jersey home, showcasing his innovative designs, gives you a wonderful idea of how his various furniture and design pieces work together to create a harmonious ambience. (If you love Stickley's designs but can’t afford originals, buy “re-issues,” not reproductions, of classic Craftsman furniture from Stickley, Audi & Co.)  
Dine: Pack a picnic and enjoy dining al fresco on these beautiful, 30-area park grounds. Stay: Here's a list of hotels, B&Bs, and restaurants in the area. Getting there: Drive or train from New York (Penn Station), take a NJ Transit train (Morristown Line) to Morris Plains, then a taxi.

Editor's Note: Here's a list of stunning Iconic Houses all over the world that are open to the public.

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