How a Frank Lloyd Wright house built in New Jersey ended up in Arkansas

Architecture East Newsletter Preservation Southwest
Bachman-Wilson House Exterior. (Courtesy Nancy Nolan Photography)

Bachman-Wilson House Exterior. (Courtesy Nancy Nolan Photography)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman Wilson House, built in 1956 in Millstone, New Jersey, opened to the public on November 11th in Bentonville, Arkansas. The house was disassembled on the original site and transported to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, for preservation and public display.

Bachman-Wilson House Main Living Area. (Courtesy Nancy Nolan Photography)

Bachman-Wilson House Main Living Area. (Courtesy Nancy Nolan Photography)

Bachman-Wilson House Dining Area and Kitchen. (Courtesy Nancy Nolan Photography)

Bachman-Wilson House Dining Area and Kitchen. (Courtesy Nancy Nolan Photography)

In 2013, when museum leaders visited the house, recent homeowners, Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino, proposed relocation. The Tarantinos’ land had been prone to flooding and therefore required numerous restorations to the home. To preserve the house properly, they knew relocation was necessary. The museum agreed, the structure was disassembled, and every component labeled. Two trucks transported the parts 1,235 miles to the Arkansas. The house is now situated near the museum’s south entrance, overlooking the woodlands and Crystal Spring.

The reconstruction team also consisted of Scott Eccleston (Crystal Bridges’ Director of Operations), Ron Shelby (lead architect with Hight Jackson Associates), and Bill Faber (chief contractor with Bill Faber Construction). The team strove to reconstruct the house as close to the original as possible, reusing most of the mahogany, and recreating the concrete block walls and floors to Wright’s specifications. To further preserve the original structure, efficiencies were added to the re-construction. For example, a climate control system was installed to protect the mahogany, without having to change the interior floor design.

Bachman-Wilson House Entrance. (Courtesy Nancy Nolan Photography)

Bachman-Wilson House Entrance. (Courtesy Nancy Nolan Photography)

Wright’s Bachman Wilson House is named after the original owners Abe and Gloria Wilson and Gloria’s brother Marvin Bachman, an apprentice to Wright. The house is an example of Wright’s middle-income family residences, in his “Usonian” period. Wright’s Usonian Houses were normally small, single story, and consisted of native materials, flat roofs, and cantilevered overhangs–visually uniting the interior and exterior spaces.

Bachman-Wilson House Rear Exterior. (Courtesy Nancy Nolan Photography)

Bachman-Wilson House Rear Exterior. (Courtesy Nancy Nolan Photography)

Tickets became available to the public on November 2nd, and, as of November 11th, the house became available to the public during Museum hours, for no cost. Because of the house’s limited space, tickets must be reserved in advance. Visitors have two options: General Admission, which is a self-guided tour, available each day except Tuesday, or Guided Tours, which are one-hour in length, offered any day except Tuesday or Friday. Regardless, anyone, with or without tickets can wander the surrounding grounds or hike the Crystal Springs and Tulip Tree Trails, which offer views of the house.

Now that the Tarantino family, museum, and reconstruction team have successfully given Wright’s home a safe environment for preservation, generations to come can experience Wright’s magnificent piece of work.

For further information, or to reserve tickets, visit the Crystal Bridges’ website.

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