-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope-Leighey house

In the previous post I talked about the houses we visited just outside Washington DC. One of them was the Pope-Leighey house, which is one of Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian houses. Unlike his other buildings, these houses were designed for the middle classes so were much smaller and more affordable.

I hadn't known what to expect. But figured, as I didn't get a chance to look inside any of his houses in Oak Park except his studio and first house (1890's), it would be interesting to see inside one of the houses he designed later in his career during 1940's.

The Pope Leighey house took my breath away. Just walking down the driveway towards it, it was so beautiful... the wood on the outside blending in with the trees, the glass, just the whole shape. I liked it a thousand times more from the outside than any of his Oak Park homes.

pope leighey house outside (scanned)

The inside was even more spectacular. It was small, yes, but it felt spacious. The lighting, the different ceiling shapes and patterns, the whole symmetry of the place just made it feel very comfortable. So much so that even Dave adored it and we were half jokingly talking about building a replica of it at Amherst. (Not that we need it, but oh, if we ever did need to add another cottage, this would be it).

pope leighey house lounge (scanned)

You can see a lot more great photos of the inside here. The photos don't do it justice though, as they don't capture the feeling of relaxation and comfort it imbues. Also interesting is this article, writing by Mr Pope in 1948 describing his thoughts about the home.

My favourite features included:

***The recessed lights above the dining table

***The carved wood making patterns over the windows - this was the cheaper version of his stained glass windows, and I liked them even better. In fact, I want to do a version of them for shutters at Amherst.

***The two doors in the corner of the dining area that opened out to create a diagonal opening to the back garden.

***The way there were windows everywhere, but you never felt exposed

***The way the kitchen area was separate, and able to be partioned off with concertina doors, but yet part of the main living space if you wanted it to be.

***The glorious concertina doors on the cupboards that were incredibly sturdy by having piano hinges all the way along each bend.

***The cupboard doors in the narrow passage outside the bathroom that opened like flaps from the top, 180 degrees back to lie flat so that they didn't obstruct the walkway if you left them open

***The way the bookshelves had their supports hidden and were in line with the horizontal lines of the panelling

I could go on. It was just an extraordinary house, made even more so by the realisation that all it took was an attention to detail and a care for design, rather than a lot of money or skill to build.

No comments: