NCMH To Host Public Tour of The Larson Residence

Late architect Jon Condoret’s favorite project will be open to the public for the first time.Condoret-Larson_SM

March 20, 2013 (Durham, NC) – North Carolina Modernist Houses, the award-winning non-profit organization dedicated to documenting, preserving, and promoting Modernist residential architecture, will host a tour of the unusual 1973 Arthur and Florence Larson Residence in Durham on Saturday, April 13, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.

Originally designed by the late Chapel Hill architect Jon Condoret, the Larson home began at 4825 square feet. When the Larsons sold the house, the new owners engaged California architect Fu-Tung Chung to design the renovation, which was built by Landmark Renovation with the late landscape architect, Judy Harmon, designing an entrance path and garden. A further 2011 addition expanded the house to 6040 square feet.

“Jon Condoret considered the Larson house his favorite project,” said George Smart, NCMH Executive Director. “It’s easy to see why. The expansive walls and ceilings, combined with exposed beams, echo the angular exterior.  The house is filled with natural light and views of the wooded surroundings. We are very grateful to the current owners for opening it on April 13 to the public.”

Condoret-Larson2_SMAccording to the Durham Herald’s 1993 obituary, Arthur Larson joined the Duke faculty in 1958 and became only the second James R. Duke professor of law after having served as Undersecretary of Labor, Director of the U.S. Information Agency, and as special assistant in charge of speeches for President Dwight E. Eisenhower. He also served as consultant on international affairs to President Lyndon B. Johnson, the U.S. State Department, and the United Nations.  While the Larsons lived in their Modernist home, they frequently entertained friends and fellow Duke Faculty, often holding classical music concerts in the large two-story-clear living room.

Tickets to the tour are $6.50 in advance or $10 at the door. (Advance sales close a week before the tour.) Admission is on a timed-entry basis every 30 minutes. Photography is allowed anywhere inside and outside the house. Architects can earn continuing education credits for attending the tour if arrangements are made with the American Institute of Architects in advance.

To order tickets, select an entry time, get directions to the house, and for additional information, go to Proceeds benefit TMH’s ongoing mission. Call George Smart with any questions: 919-740-8407.



A Modernist Passing: Death Of The Paschal House In Raleigh

Photo by Colin Campbell for the News & Observer

Photo by Colin Campbell for the News & Observer

Though praised by Frank Lloyd Wright, Paschal heirs tear down their iconic childhood home.

March 5, 2013 (Raleigh, NC) – Despite years of preservationists pursuing every conceivable option to save it, the 1950 George and Beth Paschal House, a Raleigh mid-century modern icon designed by James Fitzgibbon that even Frank Lloyd Wright praised, was suddenly destroyed on Friday, March 1.

Concerned preservationists were completely unaware that demolition was imminent. That very morning George Smart, founder and director of the non-profit Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH), along with Myrick Howard, President of Preservation North Carolina, and Raleigh architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, presented a petition to the City of Raleigh to have the Paschal house declared a Raleigh Historic Landmark.  Such designation would have put a “stay of execution” on any demolition.

As lead petitioner, Smart prepared the extensive documents and hand-delivered them on Friday, March 1, to City officials.  By noon he learned that, without public knowledge, the heirs obtained a demolition permit two weeks earlier and a backhoe was already on site that moment, knocking down the house.

The property will be subdivided into five lots. “We don’t have all the information yet,” Smart said, “but this appears not to be a straight sale. The heirs are partnering with a developer, Anderson Marlowe, to build five $2 million-plus McMansions. That’s not going to be easy in this economy, even in that neighborhood.”

“It’s a tragedy,” Frank Harmon told the Raleigh News & Observer that afternoon. “We’ve lost the greatest example of residential design in the last 60 years.”  The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

“What’s really sad,” Smart added, “is that the heirs could have subdivided the land into four lots and walked away with $2- to $2.5 million five years ago, thus saving the house. And by now it would have been remodeled and loved by new owners.”

“It was an act of vandalism,” an irate Myrick Howard told the newspaper

To read the News & Observer’s full report on the demolition of the 1950 Paschal House:

For a complete history of the house, including the many preservation efforts, go to and scroll down to “1950.”