Alden B. Dow Home and Office

Trip Start Jul 07, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Michigan
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

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I checked out of my hotel in the Detroit suburt of Romulus and headed for the Alden B. Dow Home and Office in Midland, MI. Tours of the building are offered on most days at 2:00. I arrived with plenty of time to spare. When it was nearly 2:00 I went in, paid for the tour and waited a few minutes until it started.

Alden Dow is the son of Herbert Dow, the founder of Dow Chemical Company. He initially studied chemistry for three years. He then changed schools and majors, going to Columbia University to study architecture. After getting his degree he worked with an architectural firm in Michigan. He then studied with Frank Lloyd Wright for six months before opening his own firm in his hometown of Midland, MI. During the 1930s he designed and built his home and office across a stream from his parents' house. The stream was widened into a pond and is a major feature of the house.

The house is quite large with 14,000 square feet of living space and 6,000 square feet of office space. It's built from blocks designed by Alden Dow and made from recycled cinders from Dow Chemical. It still looks very modern even though it is nearly 80 years old. The influence of Frank Lloyd Wright is evident throughout the house but it is definitely an Alden Dow design.

Alden Dow lived in the house until his death in 1983. His wife collected his papers and opened the Alden B. Dow Archives in 1988. She continued to live there until her death in 1991. The house remained largely the same following his death. When she died the house and its contents were turned over to the state. It opened for tours the following year.

It's a very impressive house and it was definitely worth the detour to Midland to see it. Alden Dow also built many other buildings in Midland including a museum in the garden that's just behind his house. Unfortunately, I didn't have time for more sightseeing so they'll have to wait for a future visit.
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