Crystal Bridges Museum will move Frank Lloyd Wright house from New Jersey to Arkansas

Unusual move is intended to save structure from periodic flooding.

January 17, 2014 |
This Usonian house will be moved to Arkansas to prevent flood damage. Images: Ta

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has announced that it has acquired the Bachman Wilson House, designed in the 1950s by Frank Lloyd Wright, and plans to move it to its facility in Bentonville, Ark. The restored house, which is located in Somerset County, N.J.,  was placed on the market in 2012 by its owners after it was periodically damaged by flooding of the nearby Millstone River. Numerous architectural experts have concluded that moving the house offers its best hope for long-term survival.

One of Wright's celebrated Usonian houses, the Bachman Wilson House will be transported 1,200 miles by J.B. Hunt, an Arkansas carrier, at no charge. The sellers, architects Lawrence and Sharon Tarentino, have agreed to supervise the dismantling and packing process.

The 200,000-sf Crystal Bridges Museum was founded by Alice Walton, who is the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton. It opened in 2011 in a facility designed by Moshe Safdie. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed, though the market price was $1.5 million.

“We’re honored to be able to preserve and share this significant example of American architecture, as Frank Lloyd Wright’s work embodies our own mission of celebrating art and nature,” Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges executive director, said in a statement.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is on record as supporting the move. “Facing a difficult dilemma after upstream construction and water ‘management’ projects contributed to a repeated untenable flood hazard for their property … the Tarantinos reluctantly concluded that the house required relocation,” Janet Halstead, executive director of the conservancy, said in a statement.

The relocation is expected to be complete by early 2015.


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