Page N1.2 . 04 February 2004                     
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  • Farnsworth House Saved
  • High Museum Reilluminated

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    Farnsworth House Saved


    Shortly after bidding ended, spokesmen for the two groups announced that the house ownership was officially transferred to the National Trust. "This is a seminal moment in recognizing the importance of modern architecture," said trust president Richard Moe. "Going into the auction we were very unsure about what the outcome would be, but we couldn't be more pleased with the results. We have been working to see this day for almost a decade."

    The single-story, single-room structure is a rectangular steel frame with glass walls that seems to float over the land. It was built on a 58-acre (23-hectare) site as a summer home for Edith Farnsworth, a Chicago doctor who commissioned Mies in 1945, seven years after he immigrated from his native Germany.

    The iconic Farnsworth House is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of residential 20th-century architecture. "This one is in a class by itself," says Beth Newburger, director of communications for the National Trust.

    Biographer David Spaeth wrote in Mies Van Der Rohe: "The Farnsworth house is Mies's summary statement of those spatial and architectural concerns he first realized in the Barcelona Pavilion, and which he further developed in the Tugendhat House.... However, contained in what is a pure expression of its age is another vision, that of a transparent house in a verdant landscape."

    Plans for the site include immediately granting an easement to LPCI that will prohibit inappropriate alterations to the house and property. The house is expected to open to public tours by spring 2004 and will be operated by LPCI under the guidance of the National Trust. The two groups also announced that they are seeking up to $5 million to establish an endowment to help support the site.

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    ArchWeek Image

    The Farnsworth House, by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, has just been purchased by historic preservation groups.
    Photo: Jon Miller/ Hedrich Blessing

    ArchWeek Image

    The single-story Farnsworth House is a steel-and-glass rectangle that seems to float over the land.
    Photo: Jon Miller/ Hedrich Blessing


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