Three of the most important modernist houses in the Northeast, including the 1964 house Robert Venturi designed for his mother, have been or will soon be put up for sale by their long-time owners, two of them without covenants that would ensure their preservation.
Among those two is House VI, a masterwork by Peter Eisenman on a six-acre wooded lot in Cornwall, Connecticut, completed in 1975. Its original owners, Suzanne and Dick Frank, are about to offer the house for sale at $1.35 million the price includes a Civil War-era schoolhouse converted into a one-bedroom cottage on the property, and, Mrs. Frank says, “We don’t want to put any restrictions on the buyer.” She described the house as “conditions of security and uncertainty working in tandem.” Her husband adds, ““It’s comfortable as well.” …. The couple’s broker, Stephen Drezen of Sotheby’s, conceded that, given the beauty of the site and the prestigious Cornwall location … some buyers might want to tear down the one-bedroom Eisenman and build a larger house. He also says restrictive covenants would prevent someone from adding to the house—even if the addition was designed by Eisenman himself….
Meanwhile, Louis Kahn’s Esherick House 1961 in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood is languishing, five years after its owners, Robert and Lynn Gallagher, first put it on the market. The asking price in 2008 was $2.4 million. Since then, Robert Gallagher has died, and his son, real estate broker Patrick Gallagher, has presided over a series of price reductions, most recently to $1.1 million…. The house is listed with the City of Philadelphia Historical Commission, which means that any facade changes would have to be approved. But, Gallagher says, “You could do anything you want inside.” The high price, even after the reductions, is likely to scare away anyone who doesn’t love Louis Kahn’s design. A typical house in the same zip code, Gallagher says, goes for about $600,000, suggesting that he still hopes to get an “architecture premium” of nearly 100 percent.
Just a block away, Agatha Hughes is preparing to sell the extraordinarily influential house designed by Robert Venturi for his mother, Vanna Venturi, between 1962 and 1964. It is sometimes called Mother House for its original occupant and for its influence on generations of architects.