Modern fans bask on butterfly roof

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“I loved the light and the trees,” said Elaine Blank in response to the question of what she enjoyed the most of her 60 plus years in the house at 2133 Owens Lane. In 1951 Elaine and her husband, local photographer Robert Blank, purchased plans from House Beautiful magazine. Their desire to live in something new and adventurous led them to build this unique butterfly roofed structure. They moved into the completed home in 1953. Last Sunday (June 7) the new owners of the Blank House, KU philosophy professor Dale Dorsey and family, hosted a Lawrence Modern open house reception. After an introduction to the history of the house by Tom Harper, the 75 attendees were treated to an eloquent soliloquy by our resident architecture historian and modernist guru Dennis Domer. Dennis described the 1950’s context that pushed young couples like the Blanks to seek out modernist design. The country was optimistic about the future and the future was all about the new. Dennis reminisced about his own father’s attempt to modernize their home by installing the same type of mahogany paneling as in the Blank House. The paneling in the Blank House is indeed gorgeous, but the question on the minds of most in attendance concerned the roof and its drainage (especially due to our abundance of recent rains). Dale explained that the roof drained into a large center drain that carried the water off the property. A system that many seemed to question, but Dale said it has continued to work successfully. As visitors walked through the house admiring the architecture, observing the light and the views to the exterior trees, Mrs. Blank, our guest of honor, stood in the kitchen and remarked how beautiful the house looked. Although she came mostly to see the wood floors that had been covered with carpet since the mid 1950s, she left with high praise for how the new owners have preserved the house that had been such a part of her life.

Lawrence Modern would like to thank Dale Dorsey and his family for opening up their home and letting our members experience this wonderful example of mid-century modernist architecture.

-Tim

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