She launched a campaign to save Marcel Brewer’s home on Cape Cod
Marcel Brewer known to him Mid-Century Modern Buildings In Paris, New Yorkand Washington, D.C. but the Bauhaus-trained Hungarian-American architect spent his summers there Cape CodAnd Massachusetts in Modest cottage is less known than its own design. Completed in 1949, the residence is miles away from the distractions and stresses that often come with celebrities.
Cape Cod Modern House Trust (CCMHT), a local conservation group, sounded alarm bells this week Marcel Breuer’s personal cottage In Wellfleet, Massachusetts may face demolition, however, unless sufficient funds are raised to salvage it.
At present, CCMHT is “now in contract” to purchase the cottage from him Thomas BrewerMarcel’s son, in the spring of 2024 so that it can exist forever, according to A.J press release. But the group “has just under a year to raise funds to save this cultural gem by acquiring the property and restoring the home, preserving Brewer’s original design, and relaunching it as a place of study, creativity, and public access.” Donations are needed to help raise at least $1.4 million of $2 million purchase price, and CCMHT will seek a mortgage to finance the remaining purchase price.”
Today, Breuer’s cottage in Wellfleet contains “the late architect’s books, furniture, art, photographs, and artwork,” according to Peter McMahon, founding director of CCMHT. “It’s basically a repository of Brewer’s life,” McMahon said. AN.
Among those who frequented the home with the Breuer family were Aline and Eero Saarinen, Florence Knoll, Alexander Calder, Walter Gropius, Saul Steinberg, Zante Schawinski, Bernard Rudofsky, and many other legendary artists and designers, CCMHT reported. “Brewer spent almost every summer of his life there until his death in 1981,” said McMahon. “It was there more often than at his homes in New York or Cambridge or New Canaan or Paris. That is why he and his wife and two members of his family are buried there.”
McMahon notes that Breuer’s hut is of historical significance for several reasons, other than the fact that it is the final resting place of the late modern master. “Brewer was really interested in the local Cape vernacular design, the oyster shacks and covered bridges,” said McMahon. “This cottage was the first time he developed what became known as the ‘long house’ which is basically a long house on stilts. It’s a New England cabin mixed with a modern European design using aviators, made from local wood materials.”
“The natives still have this ghostly presence,” said Marta Kuzma, professor of art at the Yale School of Art and former dean of the Yale School of Art, who spent time at Brewer’s home on the Cape this summer. “It felt like Miss Havisham meets architecture.”
“Being in Wellfleet and visiting the restored homes by John Hall and Paul Weidlinger and the yet to be restored home by Marcel Breuer, it just felt like stepping back in time to the 1930 exhibition at the Wachsende Haus in Dessau, with Gropius, Hilbersimer and others participating, Because it shows the possibilities of outbuildings that can be built efficiently in the countryside.
From an art history perspective, Kuzma echoes McMahon’s by pointing out that Brewer’s humble cottage holds immense cultural value. Not far from the townhouse, she notes, are other mid-century homes such as one by fellow Hungarian immigrant brewer Paul Weidlinger, built in 1953. Another period home, by architect Peter Chermaev, completed in 1960, is near the Hatch House. Designed by John Hall and Marni. Hall, an artist whose work is displayed in the Breuer family home. Charles Zehnder’s Kugel/Gips home is within walking distance. Kuzma stated, “The house is a testament to the exchange that needs to happen within Wellfleet’s community of artists and architects.”
“At the time the Brewer House was being built in 1949, and at the time other Modernists were building throughout the 1950s, two things were going on,” she said. AN. Intellectuals like Alison and Peter Smithson were challenging Le Corbusier’s architectural leadership within CIAM. At Breuer’s Cape House, there are materials throughout the house and publications suggesting there was concern about rethinking dwelling and domestic life. Then there was the political repression of McCarthyism. It was the community Wellfleet North houses a progressive group of left-wing intellectuals and artists and yet they seemed not to be let down by this threat.”
“In a coastal port like Cape Cod, one could imagine Brewer might adopt a relaxed approach to living in the summer days, and yet these homes seemed like active laboratories for non-stop experimentation and play,” Kuzma explained. “Marcel and Connie Breuer took a very hands-on approach to their home, experimenting with industrial elements — found materials as furniture, transistor panels as decoration, tatami mats as wall. It’s also where you can see Breuer’s semi-obsession with the possibilities in the functional use of cement block as furniture.” .
Conservationists and fans of modern art have good reason to be concerned. In 2022, Docomomo US, a conservation advocacy group, broke the news that Brewer Geller House on Long Island Overnight to make way for a new “superfluous tennis court”. Docomomo since then paired With CCMHT to rescue Breuer’s cottage in Wellfleet.
Moreover, since 2016, “the Outer Cape has lost on average one significant new home per year,” the CCMHT said. “If the Breuer home is put on the open market, the new owner can demolish the home after the 12-month historic demolition delay and build 3,600 square feet of new construction without the need for alteration, which could also lead to significant disruption to the ecosystem.”
“We have lost many important modern homes due to overvaluation and shortage of land “Supervising the Breuer Geller home on Long Island in 2022,” said Liz Waitkus, CEO of Docomomo US. There is much to study and learn from these humble places and our cultural heritage cannot be replaced. Everyone who cares about the legacy of the 20th century should support this effort to save the Brewer House and its final resting place. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to protect such an important home and make it open to the public.”
Brenda Danilowitz, Principal Curator at the Museum Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. Its distinctive floating porch and blend of American vernacular timber construction with Bauhaus architecture and unevenness mark a fleeting moment in the history of architecture in this country. Its value is enhanced by the startling fact that it has not been altered by time, thus placing students, scholars and architects and to all interested in our architectural history, an authentic example of a very specific era in New England and American life.”
Breuer’s home on the Cape has fallen into disrepair after years of neglect, McMahon said, but with some investment, the log structure on a pristine 4-acre site, surrounded by National Park Land, could be a capsule of Breuer’s business. He said the CCMHT seeks to preserve Brewer’s Koch as an archive and residence. “We plan to do a semester-long work-study fellowship there in archiving and historical preservation,” he said.
CCMHT’s goal is to raise $2 million before spring 2024 to save the house. McMahon said he hopes to raise $1 million to cover minor costs related to maintaining the structure and the other half of the town of Wellfleet under Community Preservation Act.
To find out more about the project or participation, Follow this link.