Palmer House (1950)
Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect
227 Orchard Hills Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
I recently came across this website for the Palmer House which is now available for weekend or weeklong rental. Along with photos and information, there is this video with a tour. It was set up by the new owner of the house who purchased it from the Palmer Family. I decided to look at a few of the snapshots of the exterior I took while the house was for sale – and have posted them here. I toured the house with potential buyers who had owned a Frank Lloyd House on the west side of the state, and were interested in something closer to the Detroit area. I have no interior photos respecting the “no photos” request once we were let inside. Luckly, the interior has been photographed professionally and the photos show up in the many Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian House books. Also, the realtor’s website is still up (as of today anyway) with a series of interior photos including rooms not usually published.
The Palmer House was the first Frank Lloyd Wright house I visited. My first visit was while I was in High School. The Palmer’s had the house open for the Ann Arbor Women’s Club House Tour. I skipped class and stood in line with a group of ladies from the Ann Arbor Women’s Club. I think I was the youngest person in line by at least 30 years. The line slowly worked its way up the gravel drive, past the carport, and up the wide angled stairs to the front door. I remember next to the door there was a large shallow dish on the floor with a bird of paradise flower in front of a large floor to ceiling window. Simple, beautiful, and unusual. This glazing had a 30 degree angle with a glass to glass miter joint. I had never seen a window with a mitered joint like this. I was fascinated. Once inside, I experienced the magic of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture for the first time. The low roof at the entry compresses the space, and then after a carefully orchestrated path to the living room, the space opens up with the trangular ceiling lifted over the living room. The house is layed out on an equlateral triagular grid. All of the walls come together at either 60 or 120 degree angles. This includes the masonry walls which use specially manufactured brick for the corners. I destinctly remember a woman telling her friend as they walked through the living room french doors to the natural garden path toward the tea house “It is an interesting house, but I cannot imagine anyone wanting to live here”. I was thinking to myself that I could imagine what their homes were like, and I could not imagine anyone wanting to live in their homes! As a young high school student taking drafting courses, this visit was one of those memorable milestones which inspired me to become an architect.