Visting Gropius House

While I was composing Resources for Pens and Paper Part I: Brick and Mortar (Boston), I remarked upon how visiting Bob Slate Stationer has a timeless quality, reminiscent of Walter Gropius’s desk. It made me nostalgic for visits to Gropius House, one of the properties of Historic New England.

Gropius came to the United States with his family to revamp Harvard University’s School of Architecture. He was given a housing allowance to build his own house, which he did in Lincoln, MA, completed in 1938. It’s not a large house: just enough room for him, his wife, daughter, and a housekeeper. He also saw clients in the house, hence my ability to see some of his office tools.

A closeup of the Gropius’s shared desk. The office doubles as a hallway, in efficient style.

The house is quite the sight, tucked in between classic examples of New England colonial homes (mansions) and beautiful forests. I frequently detour on my commute to Fitchburg to just get a glimpse of the modern style.

The view of Gropius House from the road. The sight of it is uplifting in the midst of difficult spring semesters.

Since visiting is much harder at the moment, I thought I’d share some of the images I’ve taken during my several visits to the property.

There are worse views.

The desk makes me want to throw away everything I own and start fresh. It’s not that it is spare – there are cards, papers, decorations around. But the minimalist function of all the tools, the quality, the heft to them. It is pleasing.

The desk in their daughter’s room displays a rather mod calendar from 1967. She requested her own entrance to the house, which her father granted — hence the spiral staircase on the side of the house. She also has a balcony, with a wall painted in pink, which apparently reduces glare.

The pink makes for an excellent backdrop for portraits.
It also captures the shadows of the trees surrounding the house.

At every turn, there is a vignette waiting to be photographed.

A Knoll womb chair by Eero Saarinen: much of the furniture in the house came as gifts from the designers, students from Bauhaus.

I particularly appreciate the textures and designs intended to create shadows and reflect the surrounding environment.

Rather than defying the New England woodland surrounding the house, the design instead honors the nearby architecture and landscape, bringing it into the house and considering it through a new lens. I’m no artist or architectural historian, but I always appreciate visiting.

I hope you enjoyed this brief, virtual visit to Gropius House.

One response to “Visting Gropius House”

  1. i’m not sure Maureen gets these so i’m forwarding, knowing she will love it. Me too. But i wonder how he got one of my two-piece sheepskins from Perth?

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