06/28/2018

Gropius House

By Winnie Yen

Last month I visited the Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School in Germany, designed the house as his family home when he came to teach at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. The house was completed in 1938.  After Walter’s death in 1969, his wife Ise donated the property to Historic New England, though she remained in tenancy for the rest of her life.

 

Exterior View looking toward Entry

Exterior View looking toward Screened Porch

Background

In 1934, Gropius and his family lived in London where they had moved to avoid the Nazi regime. With no funds and World War II approaching, Gropius accepted a teaching position at Harvard and moved to the United States.  He was able to construct the house through the generosity of philanthropist Helen Storrow, who provided the land and the funds for building. Gropius worked on the house with Marcel Breuer, a colleague from the Bauhaus School who joined him to teach at Harvard. Breuer later built his own house across the street from Gropius. 

The House

Located about one hour outside of Boston, Gropius selected Lincoln, Massachusetts as the site to best accommodate the education of his adopted daughter Arti, who was 12 years old at the time the house was built. The house is about 2,400 SF, and construction costs were a modest $20,000. It is a hybrid of traditional New England aesthetic and modern architecture, expressing Gropius’ ideals while responding to the scale and materials of the surrounding area. The house incorporated traditional New England materials such as clapboard, brick and field stone utilized in a modern way, while also introducing industrial materials such as glass block, steel and chrome. Gropius carefully positioned the house and designed the landscape as he believed there should be a strong relationship between the house and its surroundings. 

Living Room

Gropius and his wife spent most of their time in the study. The desk is from Bauhaus.

Entry Stair Hall

Master Bedroom

Industrial steel light fixture, Josef Albers painting below

Half Chrome bulb, my favorite light bulb

Living Room with Saarinen’s Womb Chair and Breuer’s Laccio side table

In 2000, Gropius House was named a National Historic Landmark. The Gropius House is now a historic house museum, owned by Historic New England, and is open for public viewing. This house is a wonderful example of an architect’s own home, combining great architecture and the joy of living.