Croton-on-Hudson, NY – In 1950, a house with glass walls, now nestled here among the flowering trees, spent some Month In Manhattan. Skyscrapers were visible on its flat roof while on display in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art. The installation, designed by architect Gregory Ain and co-sponsored with Woman Home Companion magazine, was intended to inspire creativity on a budget for residential subdivisions.
According to the museum Brochure, A system of movable walls “expresses the illusion of spaciousness” in a two-bedroom building. As noted in the magazine’s eight-page color feature, its flexibility and wide windows offered “a view to the future”.
But once the attraction ceased and was destroyed, its fate was obscured. It seemed disappeared.
However, a few months ago, George Smart, a historian who founded and operated it US Modernist, A nonprofit organization in Durham, NC that focuses on mid-20th century modernist homes, viewed through MoMA’s archives. He found that the building had survived and identified the owners, sharing this information with The New York Times.
“I couldn’t believe that in 1950 New York’s most famous house would simply disappear,” he said.
This spring, when The Times contacted the owners, they were surprised to learn that scholars were chasing them home. Mary Kelly, a retired executive of the New York City Transit Authority, bought the property in 1979 with her husband, Ralph (who died in 2013), and she now lives there with three adult sons. Soon after the family moved in, neighbors told them that the building was born in MoMA. Mary Kelly then alerted the museum, but apparently no record of her call was kept.
“I knew it was a famous house,” he said. “This house was not lost. It has all been here at the moment.”
Amanda Hicks, a MoMA spokesman, said the museum is pleased with Croton-on-Hudson’s discovery and said its archival files are becoming more discoverable. Research, he said, “is an iterative and revelatory process.”
Ann, who died in 1988, collaborated at home with her colleagues Alfred Day and Joseph Johnson, and with members of the museum’s staff, including Philip Johnson. Natalie Hoyto. (Team original 51.5-inch The sample The house, which surfaced a few years ago, is back in MoMA.)
The furnishings were practical, mass-produced pieces by leading personalities such as Charles and Ray Eames. Paintings and prints were hung on walnut walls by Georges Braque, René Magritte and Edward Hooper. Light bulbs were fitted in roof coves. The Woman’s Home Companion described the interior as an ideal setting “for the obstacles and endings of family life that are bound to come into any happy home.”
Cornelia Cotton, a nonagenarian in Croton-on-Hudson, who is a writer and gallery owner, remembers visiting Ann House at MoMA (entry tickets were 50 cents). “It was very simple, it was very simple and affordable and attractive,” she said.
For Ann, the commission was not much as a professional springboard. Her daughter, Emily Ann, said she was “extremely polite” and not self-promoting. Located in Los Angeles, he gained recognition during his career for designing simple, sunny dwellings with variable floor plans.
“He wanted to solve problems for ordinary working people,” said Anthony Denzer, Professor at the University of Wyoming. Progressive activism, including support for secession, and interest in Soviet architecture helped Ann land on the FBI’s Communist Security Index of “dangerous, destructive individuals”, Danger in the forthcoming book “Gregory Ann and the Construction of A” Let’s write in an essay. Social landscape. “
Smart found correspondence showing that MoMA had auctioned the components of the house to Isidor Skol, a periodontic technician, and his wife, Marcella Skol, a schoolteacher. Marcella’s father, Hyman Fleishman, a building restorer, disassembled the house in the museum’s garden and then stored the parts in an airplane hangar for some time until the re-assembling began on the Croton property.
Scholes’ daughter, Sondra Skole Bell, said her family “feels very lucky” to be known as the “museum house”. “I’m glad the mystery is solved,” Smart said, highlighting his family’s role in the trip to the house.
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In 1969, Scholes sold the house to owners who neglected the gardens, did not clean up after their two dozen cats and tasted purple wood and green carpet. A decade later, when Kelly went home hunting, he recognized the potential of the property. “As soon as I saw the house, I said, ‘That’s it.’ I said, ‘Don’t go further,’ “Mary Kelly said.
Since her childhood in Yonkers, Kelly said, she had dreamed of living in the kind of glamorous, transparent modernist homes she had seen in films. In a mostly glass house, he said, “You don’t feel locked into anything.”
A local historian, Jane Northshield, occasionally stopped to take photographs. But somehow it never reached the circles of MoMA that Ann House was safe.
Kelly has preserved internal walnut planes, cove lighting, and most room configurations. They added reinforced window mirrors, skylights, pink carpets, crystal chandeliers and stained glass lamps. The walls are covered in paintings and prints, whether it is a reproduction of impressionist masterpieces or portraits of folk art, along with family photographs.
“I love art, I have all kinds of art, I don’t care what it is,” Kelly said. Knickknacks on the shelves include the creamy porcelain utensils that his sons had made as children and the nationwide holiday souvenirs – the “End and End of Family Life” similar to what the Women’s Home Companion envisioned.
The MoMA’s coating of bright green plaster on the wooden exterior “makes it maintenance-free,” said Sean Kelly, the eldest son. He and his brother Scott are retired from the Postal Service and the New York City Transit Authority, respectively; A third brother, Parish, works as a dietary aide in a nearby nursing home. (A fourth brother, Chris, died in 2013.)
The property has 2.7 acres of unusual trees, such as Japanese snowbells and weeping huckleberries. “If it doesn’t give me flowers, it can’t come here,” Mary Kelly said. Neoclassical stone sculptures, old metro signs and metal filagree benches are scattered around the grounds. Sowing of undulating lawn takes about four hours.
“It’s like a paradise here,” Parish Kelly said.
Other researchers who are on the road are filmmaker Christian Robbins and the Architect Catherine Lambert, both of whom have a California. has made Installation About the house and Ann. They plan to interview Kelly for their upcoming documentary, “No Place Like Utopia”. Their own excavations were interrupted by the Kovid-19 outbreak.
Lambert said, “This story has unfolded and unfolded and unfolded – eventually leading all of us to this revelation.” The discovery of Ann’s MOMA house, he said, “complements a more robust understanding of her heritage.”
For everyone who visits, Mary Kelly said, the property resonates: “They want to visit the place. They know it’s different. They are always curious.” But she recognizes, she said, that future owners may adapt it in a completely different way.
“You’d be surprised,” he said, “how people change things.”