The popularity for all things mid-century modern (MCM) has risen to an all-time high. Satisfy your curiosity or expand your knowledge of this architectural style with a visit to these innovative buildings that exemplify the movement.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin
Spring Green, Wisc.
Wright, one of the world’s most celebrated modern architects, designed the buildings and furniture on this 800-acre property over several decades. Composed of 20 structures, including the visitor’s center, school, studio, and Wright’s residence, this AAA GEM® attraction embodies Prairie-style architecture. Taliesin’s organic style heavily influenced MCM architects of later years and features low-lying buildings, horizontal lines, open spaces, geometric furniture and minimal decoration.
Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio
The name of this home might not easily roll off the tongue or be familiar to those who aren’t MCM aficionados, but nonetheless it’s well worth a visit. The stunning modern art collection is set amid a backdrop of checkered marble floors and a spiral staircase highlighted with a Cubist fresco. Abstract artists/early modernists Suzy Frelinghuysen and George L.K. Morris outfitted their Bauhaus-style stucco-and-glass home with Cubist art, including pieces by Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso, as well as Art Deco furnishings by Alvar Aalto, Donald Deskey and Gilbert Rohde.
Georgia O’Keeffe Home and Studio
Abiquiu, New Mexico
Georgia O’Keeffe is renowned for her modernist paintings of stark Southwest landscapes and intensely colored, magnified flowers, and her home in Abiquiu reflects her art. The artist purchased the house, set in the cliffs and badlands of New Mexico, in 1945 and lived there 1949-84. While not a typical mid-century home, its décor is a Southwestern take on the style, with adobe walls and wood-beamed ceilings. The sparsely furnished interior features mid-century modern pieces and houses several of O’Keeffe’s works, including the painting “White Patio with Red Door,” the 1945 sculpture “Abstraction” and a mobile by Alexander Calder.
Designed by Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus School of Design, this 1938 house combines natural elements like wood and brick with space-age materials such as glass and chrome. Inside the home, you’ll find knick-knacks that belonged to the Gropius family as well as furnishings by Marcel Breuer; many pieces are made of leather and chrome in true Art Deco style, with a color scheme of black, white and gray accented by red splashes. MCM fans will recognize the living room’s iconic Saarinen womb chair and Yanagi butterfly stools.
Hotel Valley Ho
You could imagine Don Draper of “Mad Men” staying in this Scottsdale AAA Four Diamond hotel. Designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Valley Ho epitomizes the classic mid-century motor lodge, from its floor-to-ceiling windows and neat-o logo to space-age furnishings highlighted with pops of pumpkin, turquoise and lemon. Opened in 1956, it quickly became a favorite of Hollywood movie stars and well-known baseball players like Joe DiMaggio. Today, the hotel is a well-crafted cocktail of mid-century chic and modern conveniences, including large soaking tubs, private patios, in-room yoga, mini bars and a rooftop beer garden.
The Philip Johnson Glass House
New Canaan, Conn.
Imagine living in a house with glass walls. Architect Philip Johnson did, and this AAA GEM attraction is the result of his creative genius. Not only did he build it, he lived in it for 56 years. This iconic home, designed with the landscape in mind, has no inner walls and is appointed with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe furnishings, including Barcelona chairs and a leather-and-chrome daybed designed especially for Johnson.
South Street Diner
When it comes to diners, this Boston AAA One Diamond eatery is the real deal. The 1947 greasy spoon has chrome stools at the counter, neon lights and cobalt vitrolite on its façade. It has been featured in Esquire magazine and various films, including a 2012 documentary. Open 24/7, the diner is popular with clubgoers after hours. Grab a burger or sandwich, or try the scrumptious Boston cream pancakes if you’re craving breakfast or dessert.