But first, a short detour for Frank Lloyd Wright


Comfy bed at Old Stagecoach Inn

The second day of our beer geek road trip began sunny and bright. (A good sleep in a very comfy bed and a delicious full breakfast at the charming Old Stagecoach Inn in Waterbury, Vermont, certainly helped make the day seem cheerier, too.) Since we had missed the opportunity to do some beer shopping the day before, we made a quick stop at a grocery store to pick up some cans of the locally produced Heady Topper unfiltered IPA. Then it was south and east through the verdant Green Mountains of Vermont, which, not surprisingly, looked much more scenic at 10 a.m. then they had at 10 p.m. At several points, signs warned us of moose crossings (and even a bear crossing), but we saw neither moose nor bear attempting to traverse, at least while we were looking.

Crossing into New Hampshire, we made a stop in Manchester for something that had NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with beer. Yes, friends, it may seem hard to believe, but Elaine and I do share a few non-beer interests. One of them is Frank Lloyd Wright houses. Since Manchester has two, we decided to take a look.

Kalil House

Kalil House: FLW dropped the ball with this one

Now, we will be the first to admit that not everything FLW designed  is a work of art, nor was every house designed properly for its environment. One of the two houses in Manchester, the Toufic Kalil House, is an ugly concrete block construction that, due to 50 years of water leakage along the roof line, (Hey Frank: New Hampshire winters? Hello?) is in dire need of rehabilitation. It’s privately owned and currently on sale for only $1.8 million, so if you have a hankering for a big construction job, get on the phone. It’s highly instructive that the Currier Museum of Arts, which owns the other FLW house in town, has no interest in buying Kalil House. I mean, it’s just ugly.

Zimmerman House

Zimmerman House: The very private front hides the occupants from the world.

At the other end of the spectrum, Zimmerman House is a charming structure that features many of the architectural themes FLW used later in his career — a long and narrow building, a palette of earth tones, a shape chosen to be a recurring theme througout the house (in this case, the 14″ square). The Zimmermans, who had the house built and furnished by FLW in 1950, died in 1988 and bequeathed it to to the nearby Currier Museum of Arts. The museum had the house completely restored to its original condition, and now offers public tours.

Like many FLW houses, privacy is paramount. (FLW was obviously working through some personal issues.) The front of the house reveals nothing of the occupants. Even the front door is hard to find.

rear zimmerman house

The rear is all glass–the interior of the house and the garden become one space.

In contrast, the back of the house is all glass, making the garden seem like an extension of the house’s interior.

FLW always designed the furniture and fabrics for his houses, but in almost all cases, the furniture was kept by the owners when they sold the house and most FLW furnishings are now in the hands of private collectors. In contrast, the Zimmermans were so enthralled by their home and furnishings that they never changed anything — not even the bed cover or table napkins. As a result, the house still contains all the original custom-designed furniture, appliances, decorations and fabrics. It’s like walking into the Wayback Machine and coming out in 1950.

Ironically, FLW never visited this house. He received a complete report and photographs of the site from a surveyor, designed the house in his studio and dispatched a trusted apprentice to oversee construction. The Zimmermans met FLW several times when he was in New York City, but the architect never laid eyes on this particular creation of his.

Fascinating tour; however, having gotten our Frank Lloyd Wright fix, it was time to refocus on beer, so we got on the highway to Portland, Maine. (Although the Beer Bloggers’ Conference actually took place in Boston, about 40 of us were meeting the day before in Portland for a “pre-conference conference”.)

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