Exploring the house of Walter Gropius

If you take the commuter rail from Boston to Lincoln (Massachusetts; not Nebraska), in about 40 minutes you will find yourself at the station of what seems to be a VERY small town.  According to the website, you can take a local taxi to the Walter Gropius House from the station, but alas, with no taxi nearby and no one around who seemed to know anything about ‘The Gropius House’ I was soon wandering on a road in a forest, hoping that I would find 68 Baker Bridge Road.  (I must admit, the situation was not very dramatic, as I had a GPS on my phone to guide me.)

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Walter Gropius, famous German architect and founder of the Bauhaus school in Dessau was forced to leave Nazi Germany in the 30’s and was able to build a house for himself and his wife and daughter in an apple orchard in Lincoln, with money he loaned from a neighbour/ philanthropist.  (He was not allowed to bring any money with him from Germany, but he was able to bring beautiful Bauhaus furniture along that still adorn in the house.)  

His house is now a museum that can be visited for 15USD.  The house is a timber structure with horizontal windows and a roof garden/deck (Hello Le Corbusier!) and a screened porch.  

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Glass bricks screen off the entrance and separate the study from the rest of the house.  

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The iconic staircase on the side of the house was to give his daughter (11 years old!?) privacy to come and go as she pleased.  The daughter, Ati (who married an architect is an artist herself), had the biggest room in the house and it is also the only room with access to the roof deck!

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It’s not allowed to take pictures of the interiors, so you’ll just have to visit the house yourself to see it:)  The floors are cork tiles (it was fashionable in the 30’s too!), the same vertical timber on the exterior walls are used on the inside.  The lighting is minimal and fabulous; silver round wall scones in the living areas and hallways, bare bulbs on the walls in the bathrooms and kitchen, a strip light shining down on a Moholy-Nagy artwork on the wall above the fireplace, and definitely the winner: one single round down lighter, just big enough to shine on a round four seater dining room table.  The rest of the light is provided by standing floor lamps.  

Some of the rooms (such as the living room and dining room) are divided by curtains.  The main bedroom is separated from his wife, Ise’s dresser table with a window and mirror that can be closed with a curtain.  Apparently Sigfried Giedion, Frank Lloyd Wright, Joan Miro and Marcel Breuer are but a few of the famous guests that the Gropius family had over for dinner.

On the topic of Marcel Breuer, in the late 30’s he also (like Walter Gropius) accepted a position at Harvard University.  Gropius was Breuer’s mentor and Breuer built a house for himself just across the road from the Gropius House. (Am I the only one who thinks this is a bit too close for comfort?!)  

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Together they designed another house (Ford House) that is also within walking distance from the Gropius House.

 

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