I'm pickled tink!
December 15, 2003 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Farnsworth house saved! Friday's auction resulted in a successful campaign to save the Farnsworth house. While Miguel will not be able to live there, we can all at least visit.
posted by Dick Paris (11 comments total)
I heard this news on Friday, and couldn't be more thrilled. I am very happy that Modernism has become so well respected in the United States over the course of this past decade or so. Let's just hope that the Friends of the Farnsworth House et. al. can keep raising a significant amount of funds to care for the property. I know this has been an issue lately with Taliesin (Frank Lloyd Wright's gorgeous Wisconsin-based studio and home).

As a side topic, that Sotheby's auction had some magnificent lots ... I was particularly taken with the largest lot of Mary Wright's (the wife of famed midcentury dinnerware designer Russel Wright) Country Gardens dinnerware I've ever seen in one place. Absolutely beautiful! (And if you were wondering, the 53 piece lot sold for $4,300.00).
posted by ScottUltra at 8:49 AM on December 15, 2003

That's great news!
posted by me3dia at 9:09 AM on December 15, 2003

Oh good. and thanks for reminding me about this, I meant to follow up on the results this weekemd.
posted by Hackworth at 9:35 AM on December 15, 2003

While this is a good result, all things considered, I do find it a tad ironic. One of the arguments deployed in favor of protecting the house was the concern that a buyer would move the house from its current location. If the buyer moved the house, the argument goes, it would be divorced from the setting and surrroundings for which it was designed, damaging its integrity as it were.

However, the preservationists want to strip the house, not of its location, but its function, i.e., being a house. They're going o turn it into a museam, a purpose for which it was definitely not designed. While I don't want to see it moved, I find this a bit odd.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:41 AM on December 15, 2003


You raise a good point. It is sad to see this not being used as a house. Indeed, I don't think any of the owners have used it much as such.

Even the site has been less than kind. It might have been good idea to move it. Despite the intent of the design (that it be elevated above the hundred year flood line) the house has been catastrophically flooded twice in the past decade. (Many proposals have been floated to solve this problem. My favorite is the "scissors lift".)

The German Pavilion in Barcelona, rescued from the past for visitors to enjoy, was intended as a temporary exhibit of German craft, has since been rebuilt as a museum piece -- reincarnated in a role similar to that of 1929. (I've talked to a number of folks though who think it would make a fine house.)

It is the rare individual who would be able breath life into this building as a house and in the end, the news of its passing into the public realm means that many can enjoy its beauty. Think of it as having lots of house guests.
posted by Dick Paris at 10:01 AM on December 15, 2003

I've been digging around for a link, but I can't find it -- a couple years ago, a millionaire asshole from Oklahoma or something bought a Neutra house in Palm Springs and promptly tore it down to rebuild something more to his (and his wife's) liking
posted by matteo at 10:34 AM on December 15, 2003

Here's a link on the Neutra house.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:41 AM on December 15, 2003

Despite the intent of the design (that it be elevated above the hundred year flood line) the house has been catastrophically flooded twice in the past decade.

Off-topic: I would like someone to study the accuracy of floodmaps. In 1999 I covered the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd and was astounded at the damage that was caused when a river overran its banks. Some of the houses were in 100-year floodplains but others weren't. I'll never forget the devastation I saw, and as a result, I will always have flood insurance. I'm probably the only homeowner on my block who has it. You don't want to pay out of your own pocket for a house that has been flooded.

I read somewhere, I can't remember if it was the New York Times or the Chicago Tribune, that the owner of Farnsworth House paid $10 million to restore it after it flooded to the roof a few years ago. Poor guy. He spent $10 million to repair it, then sold it for $7.5 million.
posted by Holden at 11:26 AM on December 15, 2003

They're going o turn it into a museam, a purpose for which it was definitely not designed.

While that's certainly true - can you imagine actually living there? I was thinking about that this weekend. The idea of it is certainly appealing on a philosophical/emotional level - all that glass, feeling connected to nature outside; very zen. However, in reality I think I'd constantly be afraid of who-knows-who showing up in the middle of the night to rob you. I know it's out in the middle of almost nowhere, but still I wonder how much one can really trust one's safety in a place like that.
posted by dnash at 1:57 PM on December 15, 2003

Dnash, you could always just close the curtains if you like.

The house does feel strangely warm and intimate on the inside.

Philip Johnson's Glass House in Connecticut has no curtains, unless you count the snow falling past your windows -- lit from the glow of the house at night. I've heard the effect is that the house feels as if it is rising through snowflakes.
posted by Dick Paris at 2:25 PM on December 15, 2003

The house has been only very briefly occupied over its entire history, so making it a museum won't change its status as a house to look at, not live in. And according to a profile of the home I saw recently, flood protections were installed after the most recent flooding, which will hopefully prevent that happening again.
posted by me3dia at 2:57 PM on December 15, 2003

« Older vintage hawaiian shirts   |   PowerPoint makes you dumb. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments