Saving Endangered Modern Homes

The trend toward bigger houses makes the efficient and cool styles of modernism look inadequate to many Americans. A new article by the Architectural Record studies the difficult work of preservation efforts all over the country.

Sarah Amelar provides a wide-ranging, detailed analysis of the threats to famous examples of modernist residences. In introducing the threat, Amelar names a few of the famous architects whose work has been subject to preservation controversy: “In recent years, wrecking balls have hovered perilously close to modern homes by Rudolph Schindler, E. Fay Jones, and Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as key works by lesser-known talents. Currently, the survival of the 1958 Richard Neutra–designed Connell House, tailored to a spectacular site in Pebble Beach, California, has been the subject of a two-year battle; and the owners of a 1966 residence in Coral Gables, Florida, by one of the region's leading midcentury Modernists, Alfred Parker Browning, are suing the city for upwards of $7 million for denying them the option to raze it.”

Amelar’s survey of preservation battles ranges widely, from Pasadena, California to Wayzata, Minnesota to Fayetteville, Arkansas, just to name a few.

Here also, is an example of an organization that has managed to find success in preserving modern homes: “Among the most interesting models for reclaiming endangered homes is the work of the nonprofit Cape Cod Modern House Trust (CCMHT). Since 2006, it has salvaged midcentury dwellings owned by the Cape Cod National Sea Shore, structures acquired incidentally when the National Park Service consolidated this mostly wild land in 1961.”

Yet, the reality of the situation: “Undeniably, the right match between house and owner are essential to a happy ending.”

Full Story: Endangered Species

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