Hudson Valley Architecture: Architect Marcel Breuer’s Mid-Century Modern Houses and Designs in Dutchess County, Upstate NY
With their crisp lines and open-plan interiors, these three residences designed by Bauhaus-trained architect Marcel Breuer still look modern more than 60 years after they were built
Photograph by Will Faller/Vassar College
The Hudson Valley is celebrated for its 18th- and 19th-century buildings — from the stone houses of early settlers to ornate castles such as Olana. Less well-known is the region’s superb collection of works by world-renowned architects practicing at the halfway point of the 20th century. Seek and ye shall find superb examples by Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen, Edward Durell Stone, Paul Rudolph, Philip Johnson, and others. (Seek quickly in Paul Rudolph’s case: His two Valley buildings, both in Orange County, may be demolished in the very near future.)
High on the list of architects working in the period known as Mid-Century Modernism was Marcel Breuer (1902-1981). A Hungarian immigrant trained in Germany’s famed Bauhaus, he may be best remembered for his grand concrete concoctions — buildings like the Whitney Museum in Manhattan — and the tubular steel chairs he designed, which are still in production and fetch up to $2,200. But Breuer also crafted a series of houses that pushed the design envelope while maintaining an eye for elegance, simplicity, and respect for the landscape — hallmarks of mid-century domestic architecture.
Dutchess County is fortunate to have three Breuer-designed houses. Having been built in the early 1950s, all three are now certified senior citizens, yet they remain models of modernity.
A modern home for Vassar College, designed by mid-century architect Marcel Breuer
Expanding a classic, designed by mid-century architect Marcel Breuer
A soaring design, designed by mid-century architect Marcel Breuer