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Waterlogged Wright Home to Relocate

FRIDAY, JANUARY 17, 2014

By Jill M. Speegle


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A rare home designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright will be getting a new zip code and a lifeline come 2015.

(The new location just happens to be in my home state of Arkansas.)

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR, announced Jan. 15, 2014, that it had purchased the Bachman Wilson House, currently situated in Millstone Borough, NJ, for an undisclosed price.

Bachman Wilson House exterior
All images Tarantino Studio © 2013/ Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

The Bachman Wilson House design reflects Wright’s Usonian period: a work of art in simplicity and form, representing organic design principles.

Wright designed the 2,800-square-foot residence in the mid-1950s while working on the Guggenheim Museum. It was constructed in 1954 for Abraham Wilson and Gloria Bachman, along the encroaching Millstone River.

The Bachman Wilson House design reflects Wright’s Usonian period: a work of art in simplicity and form, representing organic design principles.

Design in Peril

Over the years, the waterway has proved to be an unforgiving neighbor, flooding the two-story structure numerous times and causing significant damage.

The current owners—architect/design team Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino—have painstakingly restored the flood-prone home using original construction documents from Wright’s archive and have won prestigious awards for their work.

But, in 2012, the owners’ protracted battle with floodwaters led them to put the home on the market and conduct a multi-year search for a buyer that could provide an “appropriate setting for the historic building.”

Bachman Wilson House interior

The New Jersey home will be dismantled and reassembled in Bentonville, AR, after years of flooding.

According to the Tarantinos, the home’s architectural form can best be described as “Pavilion-style, with a tall masonry wall providing privacy from the public-side approach, and a dramatic open floor plan revealing horizontal and vertical planes that pass through the space to the outside.”

A New Home for a Wright Design

It’s no surprise that the Crystal Bridges Museum acquired the house, along with all the fixtures and furniture designed for it. After all, the museum itself, designed by Moshe Safdie, is a tribute to art and nature.

The 217,000-square-foot facility sits on 120 acres of lush woodlands and is surrounded by winding urban trails that connect the site to Bentonville’s nearby historic downtown.

(You can learn more about the museum, which opened in 2011, in my previous blog post.)

”We’re honored to be able to preserve and share this significant example of American architecture, as Frank Lloyd Wright’s work embodies our own mission of celebrating art and nature,” said Crystal Bridges Executive Director Rod Bigelow.

“The Usonian concept was intended to provide access to architectural quality for all families, which melds well with our philosophy of welcoming all to view American masterworks in our natural setting.” 

Bachman Wilson House

Wright designed the 2,800-square-foot residence in the mid-1950s while working on the Guggenheim Museum.

Crystal Bridges says the presence of the Bachman Wilson House will enhance its educational and public program offerings that include an architectural focus. Limited programming and tours of the home will also be available once it is reassembled.

The Relocation Details

The museum said Wright’s design will be carefully disassembled by a specialized contractor and transported to the museum grounds via semi-trucks where it will be reassembled in accordance with Wright’s original specifications.

The Tarantinos will oversee the disassembly and packing of every building component, built-in furnishings and furniture.

Site preparation will begin this spring, with reconstruction to follow toward a goal of completion in early 2015, according to the museum.

(UPDATE: The reassembled home will be open for tours beginning Nov. 11, 2015.)

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Jill M. Speegle

Jill Speegle is the Editor of Durability + Design News. She earned her B.A. in journalism and English as well as her J.D. from the University of Arkansas. In Sketches, Jill shares her thoughts on a number of topics that may be of interest to the D+D community, including architecture, interior design, green building, historic restoration, and whatever else catches her radar.

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Tagged categories: Aesthetics; Architects; Architecture; Building design; Design; Frank Lloyd Wright; Historic Preservation

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