Northborough, MA 01532, USA
Coming Soon, For Sale
No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.
— Frank Lloyd Wright
This spectacular Mid-Century-Modern estate was designed by Worcester architect, Doak Martin, clearly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright. The “Vera Green House” was commissioned by Ms. Green and her husband, Albert — industrialists and philanthropists — as a summer getaway on what once was a 180-acre hunting lodge estate property. The approach up the long drive is breathtaking, as the multi-level and cantilevered stone-and-wood house reveals itself on a rise of land overlooking the park-like grounds, rolling meadows and lawns, once called “Whipsuppenicke,” the Native American name for the region. As per Wright’s philosophy, the Vera Green House is proudly “of the hill.”
As noted by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the home is a prime example of Wright-influenced “Organic Architecture.” The MHC further notes, “The flat-roofed horizontality of the house, the natural materials, and the open plan are defining characteristics of the type; the wooded setting of the house furthers the sense that it was brought forth from its surroundings.”
Located in one of the house’s three wings, laid out in a T-shape floor plan, the heart of the home is in the dramatic living room, designed to capture the breathtaking vistas through the floor-to-ceiling (and those are high ceilings) windows, and centered around the granite hearth fireplace, flanked by Wright-ian built-in benches and bookshelves. A bluestone terrace overlooks the renovated Gunite pool, underscoring the vacation lodge atmosphere of the estate.
The bespoke theme carries throughout the home, with built-in closets. Those in the master contain a multitude of jewelry draws, complete with locks, and cedar-lined closets specifically constructed for lingerie. Ooh la la!
The master suite, with his-and-hers bath setups, leads to a study, which naturally also features a stone fireplace. The study also opens to a balcony. The other bedrooms and baths are located in a main-level wing off of the foyer.
Oh, and there’s an Adirondack-style guest cottage!
More from the Massachusetts Historical Commission about Doak Martin:
The architect of the house was Doak Martin (1917-1998). Doak Martin was born in Providence, R.I., the son of Marshall and Helen Martin. His father was a real estate broker who later in life set up an architectural practice. Doak Martin graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and enrolled at the Harvard Graduate School of Design but was unable to finish the program because of World War II. During the war, he served as a combat engineer in Europe and while still in uniform in 1946 was able to attend the Architectural Association School in London. From 1946 to 1951 he served as a draftsman in the office of Kilham, Hopkuins, Greeley & Brodie in Boston and then set up his own practice in Worcester. In the 1956 A.I.A. directory, he put the Vera Green House first in the listing of his principal works. He designed a number of large buildings in the Worcester area, including high schools in Grafton, Holden and Leicester, St. Andrews Episcopal Church in North Grafton, the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Training Center in Worcester, and buildings for the Hahnemann and Fairlawn hospitals in Worcester, the Lodding Engineering Corporation in Auburn, and the Winchendon School in Winchendon. For several years in the late 1960s he worked with a partner, Franklyn Williams, as the firm of Martin and Williams, but in the 1970s the firm, then known as Doak Martin and Associates, was a sole proprietorship. He retired in 1977….
Local tradition implies that Doak Martin had some formal study under Wright, but the Taliesin Fellowship was not able to confirm his participation in the program. It is more likely that Martin was like the numerous young architects in the Postwar period who soaked up Wright’s designs and writings and tried their hand at organic architecture, at least for one or more of their early commissions….
The contractor for the house, Theodore H. Engvall, was from nearby Shrewsbury.
The house is in need of comprehensive restoration but presents a rare opportunity for a buyer with passion and appreciation for well-designed Modernist architecture. Though Modernism in New England flourished in the middle century, extant examples displaying the specific influence of Wright is harder to find, and those set on such magnificent grounds are rarer still.
Price to be determined, likely in the $800,000s.Offered in “as-is” condition. Please contact us with any questions. We will have more photos, floor plans, property video, and other details in the weeks to come.
Aside from our visits to the property and the Mass. Historical Commission report, other sources of this description:
Spinella, Laura. “Frank Lloyd Wright Student Designed This Stunner in Northborough.” MetroWest Daily News, September 21, 2008. http://metrowestdailynews.com.