A rare house from Frank Lloyd Wright‘s Usonian house period has been saved by the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas. The dramatic rescue plan to disassemble and move the house to a site over 1,000 miles away is required due to frequent flooding of the home’s existing site in Millstone, New Jersey. The Crystal Bridges Museum will rebuild and restore the house at a site on their 120-acre grounds.
Read on for more about this unusual preservation
In 1988, the Architect/Designer team of Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino purchased the Bachman Wilson House, and restored it to its original state, after a number of alterations and previous floods had detrimentally affected the building since construction in 1954. The couple received a number of awards for their restoration, including a Wright Spirit Award from the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.
However, over the years the frequency and intensity of the floods which threatened the riverside building increased, leading the Tarantinos to the conclusion that they could no longer preserve the building at its current site. In 2012 they put the building (and its bespoke furnishings) on the market, with the added condition that the buyer must transport the building to a suitable site which duplicates the intimacy with nature that the building had previously. In light of the threat to the building, this approach was supported by both the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and the Borough of Millstone Historic District Commission.
The Crystal Bridges Museum, founded just a few years ago in 2011 and with a main building designed by Moshe Safdie, provided the opportunity to relocate the building to a site with views over native woodland and Crystal Spring itself. Lawrence Tarantino said of the sale: “there could be no better opportunity for the preservation of this important work of Frank Lloyd Wright than to secure its future stewardship in perpetuity at a public institution with a mission of celebrating American art and architecture.”
Crystal Bridges Director of Facilities and Grounds Scott Eccleston added “Relocating the Bachman Wilson House to our grounds offers an exciting opportunity to continue sharing significant architecture, along with great works of art, both inside the museum and out… here at Crystal Bridges, we’re all about art and nature, and this addition furthers that concept.”
The relocation also offers new opportunities for the museum to collaborate with the nearby Fay Jones School of Architecture (named for one of Wright’s protégés) at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Marlon Blackwell, department head at the school, said “with the addition of the Bachman Wilson House to Crystal Bridges’ grounds, the master and the protégé will be coming together in our region”.