Exemplary Mid-Century Home Endangered In Durham

August 3, 2009 (DURHAM, NC) – A 1950’s house going on the market isn’t news. When that house is exemplary of its style and period and in danger of demolition, it is.

The 1958 John and Binford Carr residence in Durham, NC, overlooking Hope Valley Golf Course is for sale.  Triangle Modernist Houses, an archiving and advocacy organization for mid-century homes in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill “Triangle” area of North Carolina, considers it the most endangered house among its listings of modern homes for sale.

Carr residence as seen from the golf course. (Photos by Lewis Clarke)

Carr residence as seen from the golf course. (Photos by Lewis Clarke)

“We’re putting out a national alert to find a loving owner for this exquisite, Kenneth Scott-designed home,” said George Smart, executive director.  “Its location on a golf course coupled with an available lot next door makes this a prime teardown target.”

Kenneth McCoy Scott, AIA, a member of the first graduating class at the School of Design at North Carolina State University, designed the 2337-square-foot Carr residence. His design recalls a group of middle-income family residences designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s called “Usonian Homes.” They were relatively small, single-story houses with carports (a term FLW coined) rather than garages and L-shaped footprints that create an inner garden/terrace. Environmentally conscious before the concept entered the general lexicon, Usonian houses featured native materials and flat roofs with large cantilevered overhangs to protect an abundance of windows. The windows accommodated natural ventilation and lighting and blurred the line between indoors and outdoors. Clerestory windows added more natural lighting.

The "hidden" terrace

The "hidden" terrace

The Carr residence appears to be straight from Wright’s Usonian playbook. From the carport, a door opens onto an enclosed, private terrace and garden. This space as well as the surrounding property features the work of master landscape architect Lewis Clarke, FASLA, who taught at the NCSU School of Design under Dean Henry Kamphoefner.

From the hidden terrace, sliding glass doors open to the interior where large windows at the back of the living space overlooks the golf course. A hall leading to the bedrooms also features a glass wall with exterior views. Natural wood and brick walls that exemplify contractor Frank Walser’s work add warmth to the modern lines and volumes of the interior. Walser (1924-1996) was well-known for his craftsmanship and attention to detail, and as such executed the design concepts of many of the area’s best architects, including George Matsumoto and Milton Small.

The Carrs have been the only owners of the two-bedroom two-bath house that is listed for $665,000 and has been meticulously maintained. Smart is hoping a buyer who appreciates the beauty and historic importance of Kenneth Scott’s design comes forward before a developer grabs the land and discards the house.

Adds Smart, “By getting the word out now, rather than wait, we dramatically increase the chances of preserving one of the finest examples of Mid-Century modern.”

Scott-3400 Westford 1950s (8)
The house is listed with Susan Peak of Peak, Swirles & Cavallito of Durham (919-612-3221. To see more photos of the house, including a collection of black-and-white images from the late 1950’s, go to www.trianglemodernisthouses.com/scott.htm.


1 Comment

  1. However, you already have your old garage in place and a new one is going to take a lot of your additional space and is going to cost you the moon to say the least.carolina carports
    thanks this article.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s