I'm sorry to be missing this show at the National Building Museum (it ends Feb. 17). Not only that, I'm sorry I didn't even know that there was a National Building Museum in Wshington D.C. before a Google alert told me that there was a show called Marcel Breuer: Design and Architecture!
Although I never met him, I could have (he died the year I graduated from art school, 1981). My parents were friendly with him and lived in this house (at left) for two summers while designing and building their own modern house in neighboring Pound Ridge, NY. The summers must have been 1949 and 1950, or maybe shift it back one to 1948 and 1949 . . .? But the house I grew up in bears more than a passing resemblance to the house on Sunset Hill Road. Only better: thanks to the radiant heat in our floors and the level rock-ledge the house grows up from, our shoes and leather items didn't sprout hairy green mold as things did at the Breuer house. Built on a hillside, rain or spring water apparently was drawn downhill, and moisture sort of got stuck in the lower floor of the house. A muggy summer meant moldy, green shoes. So goes the family story!
We visited this same house just this past Autumn as part of the New Canaan Modern House Day Tour + Symposium. The agreement with the New Canaan Historical Society was that the tour groups (16 people or so at a time) were not allowed to go in the house - or even peer in the windows! But as soon as we showed up, the gracious and willing-to-answer-questions homeowner invited us right in. A wonderful surprise and happy ending to the MHD tours, and, although I wasn't born until maybe 10 years after my parents rented the house, a sort of homecoming for me.
Here's one of those odd things that happens when you grow up hearing the names of famous people mentioned casually at home in daily conversation . . . I read the bios of these people, and I'm blown away by the brilliance they were recognized for. They spun out and away so obviously from all else that was happening at the time because of that brilliance. Their contributions have made all the difference. – GF