Given that it showed the wear and tear of years, some may have viewed the Mathews house — designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and constructed in 1950 in the Lindenwood neighborhood of Atherton — as a tear down. But, according to realtor Monique Anton who had the listing, the buyers not only appreciated the house but are working to restore it.
“In the luxury real estate market it is assumed that people want huge homes,” says Monique. “But some people want a beautiful living space. And that was the case with the buyers. They saw the brilliance of the design and wanted to keep it.”
The house is a pristine example of Wright’s Usonian period, which spanned the last two decades of his career. The Usonian house is in many ways the summation of Wright’s residential design principles, and the Mathews house was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an “excellent” example of the type.
In this home, Wright carefully relates spaces so that rooms are expansive yet still intimate. Large windows and French doors on the terrace side of the house allow flow from inside to out. The brick and redwood walls that separate interior from exterior are not “veneer” walls, like most modern construction, but are the actual structure of the building.
Other elements of the house are also typical of Wright’s Usonians. The house’s warmly-colored concrete floors flow throughout the house and outside to the terrace area. The floor is inscribed with the house’s four-foot equilateral planning grid. All walls and window and door openings are related to this unit. This leads to the generous four-foot openings of many of the windows and French doors.
Because the angles of the parallelogram unit are 60 and 120 degrees, there are almost no 90-degree angles in the house. Wright maximized the use of 120 degree angles, as he felt that they were much more conducive to comfortable human movement than the sharper 90-degree angle.
The house sold for $6.3 million which is the highest price per square foot in the neighborhood at $3,247 per square foot.
Photos courtesy of Monique Anton of Modern Homes Realty