Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Touring Polymath Park

On the Fourth of July, My Awesome Parents, Dear Husband, and I drove an hour southeast of Pittsburgh to visit Polymath Park and tour three properties ancillary to Fallingwater, which DH and I visited the next spring.

Duncan House (left) is one of only nine extant pre-fab Frank Lloyd Wright homes. It was built in 1957 in Lisle, Illinois, and after the owner's death was moved to SW Pennsylvania to make room for a housing development. Priced at $15,000, it ended up costing $38,000. Duncan House exhibits some classic FLW traits: straight prairie lines inside and out; a narrow hallway opening up into a spacious living room; irregular footprint; and integration with nature.

(The landscaping could use a little TLC.) FLW hated garages (too practical?) but conceded to including a carport.

The home was disassembled and shipped complete with its furnishings.
A lot of the furniture has been replaced, but those are the original appliances and Fiesta pans.

A combination radio and intercom from the dining room to the master bedroom. Take that, Alexa.

The carpet is not original, but apparently they can't find
anyone to make 4'x4' Cherokee red concrete tile.

View down the main hallway that reminds me of a SW canyon.
Got the classic line of prairie windows and built-in cabinets.

When they relocated the house, they added a charming multi-level back patio and a basement,
a pre-fab option that the original owners could not afford. But it blends nicely with the present surroundings.

This one is called Balter House. It was built in 1964 by FLW's first apprentice, Peter Berndston, as a summer home for the Balter family. It has the look and feel of a tree house, with the galley kitchen serving as the trunk and a skylight serving as the main branches. As you can see, it is surrounded by greenery.

This house has the original 4'x4' Cherokee red concrete tile. I was really taken by the sectional sofa.
In the back you can see the screened-in porch. Immediately to my left is a large stone fireplace.

Line of snowshoes in the back hallway.

Master bedroom. Just beyond the trees is a ridge overlooking the valley.
Our guide, Roger, told us that guests who spend the night say the
 morning light creates a beautiful green glow.

Zigzag profile of the back of Balter House.

Finally, here is Blum House. It deviates from the typical "Usonian" style in its simplicity. Also because whoever put in the first set of pipes neglected to insulate them, so over the first winter they burst, destroying the original ceiling. Blum House sits on a small flat area with a lovely view; apparently they often host weddings there. Below are two views of the living room, one of the enclosed porch, and last the back of the house. They always look bigger on the inside than you think.

DH in front of the big picture window overlooking the field.

Notice the line of windows along the angle of the roof. If this is a party house, it's not for dinner parties, as the small round table with yellow chairs in the back corner is the only eating area.

More period furniture. I dig the rug.

Finally, we were treated to a fancy lunch at the Tree Tops Restaurant: crostini, sandwiches with quinoa or red potato salad, and cheese cake or chocolate mousse for dessert. Vegetables were sorely lacking, not even a whiff of lettuce on my chicken salad sandwich. But otherwise it was a tasty meal in congenial surroundings. We left just as it started to sprinkle.

Click here to read a local article about the history and architecture of the houses at Polymath Park. It has more and more beautiful photographs.

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