Historic modernism on view Oct. 18


Jennifer Steele

Designed in 1950 by KU architecture professor George Beal, the unassuming wooden house at 1624 Indiana — the location of our next event — is an outstanding example of Usonian architecture, a term coined by Frank Lloyd Wright to describe his vision for an organic architecture suited to the United States. Prof. Beal was a Taliesin Fellow and a good friend of Wright, and often hosted him when he passed through Lawrence. He admired Wright’s Usonian ideas and at 1624 Indiana made a significant advancement on Wright’s organic concept by introducing passive-solar design. He accomplished this by inventing a device called the Heliodon to precisely orient the house for maximum heating and cooling. This was long before the LEED rating system for green buildings came into existence.

Lawrence Modern has had its eye on the Beal House since our inception in 2001. When we surveyed 35 + homes in 2009-10, we all agreed that 1624 Indiana was the most important house on our “Bakers Dozen” list. The design, craftsmanship and spatial qualities are simply remarkable. The fact that it retains such high architectural integrity is largely due to former owner Betty Jo Charlton, the first female state legislator from Lawrence. We are also indebted to her son John, the current owner who is equally invested in preserving the home. With the help of Lawrence Modern, John recently applied to get the house on the National and State Historic Registers. He will submit an application for the Local Historic Register later this year.

John has graciously welcomed us for this special gathering. We are also honored to have KU professors Stephen Grabow and Dennis Domer, who knew Beal personally, expound on the house’s significance.

There will be a light potluck, so please bring something simple & delicious to share with modern friends.

Parking will be readily available west of the house in the KU parking lot.

To learn more about the Beal/Charlton house, read on here.

Dennis, Bill, Tim & Tom

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