Gropius House: Twisted New England
Trip Start Aug 31, 2011
18Trip End Ongoing
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On the way back to Gropius House we saw a two people looking out into a field. We stopped the car once we spied what they did - an adorable red fox trotting through a field, gilded by the afternoon sun. He seemed rather bouncy and cheery, moving here then there and nosing at everything. When he sat with his pointed ears perked up, watching someone walking farther down the field, I thought he looked just like my cat.
We found a parking spot in Gropius House's tiny lot and met up with the tour guide. She was very knowledgable and I thought very young, and managed to field most of the detailed and complicated (and often, I thought, extraneous) questions asked by some of our small six-person group. The whole tour took just about an hour, through which you see almost the entire house (except the basement and an old servant's room that the museum uses as an office).
I loved, loved, loved the house. When the tour guide said that Mr. Gropius lived here but taught at Harvard University, I realized he had lived exactly as I'd like to: in an incredible modern home, in the beautiful country, with access to a paying city job.
It's not to difficult to imagine that Gropius House was frowned upon as an architectural style in the late 30's, but the tour guide said the family really admired New England historic architecture, and "this was their take on the Colonial style". In building the house, Gropius and his wife used several traditional materials in new ways - a prime example is the use of slatboards stretching vertically up interior walls. Other details I particularly liked: the huge number of windows, the cork flooring, the salt and pepper shakers, the bare lightbulbs with their bottom halves dipped in chrome (it forces the light to spread out naturally), the unique "open but closable" layout, the one-of-a-kind artwork from famous artists, the student-designed furniture from Bauhaus, and furniture designed by famous family friends. We were told that the house looks almost exactly the same as when Mrs. Gropius left it to the preservation society - she even left instructions for how the plants were in her time there. The one main difference was the fact that young trees have taken over what used to be fields - we were shown a photo from just after the house was built, and I have to say I liked the fields better. The house was currently set for Christmas, with family Christmastime photos and Christmas cards from friends displayed around the living room.
As we left and all throughout the drive home the sun was absolutely stunning - the way it lit up the trees and clouds was indescribable, the colors nameless. All in all, a great afternoon full of history and nature and a reason to play with my new camera lens, concluded by a delicious dinner, a warm fire, and time to work on my genealogy.