WELCOME! I'm very happy you've found your way to my blog where I post some of the interesting things I've found in my travels and that I'm offering for sale. I hope you find something you'd love to live with - something that inspires you or makes you smile.
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Special Day

I love when unplanned days turn into something special. After waking early and taking care of some errands, I had the rest of my day free so decided to stop into Restoration Resources on Washington St. in Boston where I like to visit occasionally. I was greeting by Walter, the chatty manager, who is always full of stories about the amazing new architectural salvage pieces they’ve acquired. He showed me some big, old, sturdy office doors from the 1800s with old script written across the glass plates. He thought they’d be good for ‘men’ and ‘woman's’ room doors for a restaurant. I agreed.  

He pointed to some impressive marble balusters that were taken from an old mansion on Commonwealth Ave. that is being converted into condos (such a pity.)  He then showed me an amazingly large panned oval glass window and matching arched doorway that stood in some grand hallway somewhere near Boston. These had just sold and were being shipped to Florida where someone was going to make a grand table from the window. 

I didn’t think to take any photos of these amazing things, but I did snap a quick photo of a funky 1950's TV set that apparently still works. (No HDTV here, or color.)

Next I made a brief stop by Cambridge Antique Market where I have my little antique booth. I needed to do some straightening up and assess if there was any way I could cram some more things into the small space. (Nope.)  On my way out, I spotted an old wooden clamp thing that I thought might make an interesting wall sculpture. 

Speaking of wooden wall sculptures, I decided to check out the Paul Bowen exhibit at the Clark Gallery in Lincoln that one of my favorite bloggers (Steve from An Urban Cottage) wrote about in a recent blog post. Steve shares my love for old wood things. He has amazing taste and has turned me on to many new artists. I loved the exhibit, especially this piece.

Nearby the gallery is the Gropius House. Walter Gropius was founder of the Bauhaus School in Germany (1919-1933) and is one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. The home is a place I have always wanted to visit so I stopped by and joined an intimate group of four others for the 4:00 guided tour. I learned that the home was built in 1938 shortly after Gropius came to the U.S. to teach at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. He did not want to live in the city but longed for a retreat where he and his family could get away from it all and relax. He chose Lincoln, MA because it was half way between Cambridge and Concord College where his daughter Ati was going to attend.

He designed the home in collaboration with his family to meet their modest needs and stay true to the Bauhaus design philosophy of maximum simplicity, efficiency and aesthetic beauty. The home is perfectly situated on four acres of land which was formerly an apple orchard. It's fairly small yet I found it very warm and inviting which goes against all I thought about  ‘sterile’ modern design.  Gropius lived in the house until his death in 1969 and everything in it is exactly as it was left when Mrs. Gropius willed it over to become a museum in the mid-80s. 

I must say I was very moved being in the house as the lights were being turned on and the sun was setting pink and blue over the snowy field seen through the living room's wall of windows. There was soft classical music playing (from Gropius’s personal collection) while we walked through the handful of rooms intimately appointed with furnishings, textiles, ceramics and artwork from the pioneers of the modern design movement including Marcel Breuer, Joan Miro, Josef Albers, Henry Moore, Moholy-Nagy and others. I strongly felt the presence of the family and the simple yet refined life they lived there. 

The experience reminded me of another of Steve’s recent, very moving, blog posts where he honored the passing of his home’s former owner, Mrs. Mastrullo, who lived in the home with her family for over 60 years before Steve purchased and renovated it. He can still feel her presence in the home and lit a candle in her honor up in his attic window to let her know that the home she loved was being well cared for.

The light was quickly fading as the tour ended. As our little group walked towards the front door, a woman appeared asking the guide if she could come in to catch the sunset which was quickly progressing. Our guide said ‘certainly’. It was Ati, Gropius’s daughter who is now in her late 80s. Our guide mentioned that she stops by occasionally to make sure everything is still in its proper place. As I passed her in the doorway, I noticed she was very frail. There was urgency in her voice when I heard her say "this may be my last time" and hurried past us as we closed the door behind her.  

As I walked down the driveway, I imagined Ati rushing to the wall of windows to watch the amazing sunset in the home she loved and where I'm sure she still feels the loving presence of her family. I took a photo of the home and the sunset as I walked back to my car. 

I think that moment will be one I remember well into the sunset of my own life.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful day! I'm glad you enjoyed the gallery. The tour of the Gropius house sounds awesome. I've driven past the house but never actually taken tour so I'll have to do that.