Home for an Old Usonian
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT never allowed risky topography to interfere with his design decisions, whether it meant building over a waterfall (Fallingwater) or on a precarious hill in an earthquake zone (Ennis House). When the 1954 Bachman Wilson House near Princeton, New Jersey, was repeatedly flooded by a branch of the Raritan River, an Arkansas museum associated with a school of architecture stepped in to save it.
Pursuant to a sale completed earlier this year, the 1,800-square-foot concrete and mahogany Usonian house is being moved to Bentonville, Arkansas, where it will be open as part of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in 2015.
Wright undertook the commission from Abraham Wilson and Gloria Bachman (a sister of Taliesin fellow Marvin Bachman) while he was working on the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. The most recent owners, architect/designer team Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino of Tarantino Studio (tarantinostudio.com), bought the property in 1988 and painstakingly restored it, using original construction documents from the Frank Lloyd Wright archives.
The Tarantinos regretfully decided to sell after a tropical storm in 2011 sent six feet of river water through the house. All fixtures and furniture designed for the residence were included in the sale. The house and its fittings are being dismantled under the careful supervision of the Tarantinos. When the components reach their new home, the Bachman Wilson House will be reconstructed according to Wright’s specifications in a woodsy corner of the museum’s grounds.
Founded by Walmart heiress Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened in 2011. Once its reconstruction is complete, the house will be available for study and limited programming, including tours. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, ( 479) 418- 5700, crystalbridges. org
Repeatedly threatened by flooding, the Bachman Wilson House is moving to a new home in Arkansas.