Now & Then Volume 1, 2023 | Page 6

Photo : Left :
Photos : Above : Mia Reed standing inside Oskaloosa ’ s Carroll Alsop House . Top-Right : A partial view of the kitchen into the living room prior to Reed ’ s ownership and renovations , courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy .
Photos by Axel Vazquez
The Alsop House ’ s kitchen – or “ workroom ,” as Wright liked to call it – is just one example of Wright ’ s use of nature in his designs . The ceiling window allows for different levels of light exposure all through the day .
Photo by Axel Vazquez used by everyday , ordinary American families to live in , and began work on the Alsop family ’ s house in 1947 at the age of 80 , just two years after the war ’ s end .
Wright famously coined the term “ usonian ” to describe a style of architecture that was entirely American . Wright ’ s concept of usonianism referred to the unique “ newness ” of the New World , and reflected his vision of American architecture being freed from Old World conventions . The Alsop House is one of only 60 usonian houses Wright ever designed .
When Mia Reed , daughter of celebrated mid-century modern architect and Wright contemporary Chuck Reed , learned that the Alsop House was for sale , she just knew she had to pay a visit . True to Wright ’ s vision , the Alsop family , who the house had been designed and built for , was just a regular Iowa family , like any other . According to Reed , their family owned a department store on Oskaloosa ’ s town square . Despite the ordinariness of the Alsops , however , Reed says walking into the house instantly impressed her .
“[ The house ] astonished me the second I walked in the door ,” Reed says . “ I thought ‘ take me to your leader .’”
That first visit turned out to be all the convincing Reed needed . She participated in the auction in August of 2021 and successfully purchased the house from the estate of Gordon Bolinger by October of that year . She moved from Wilmington , North Carolina to Oskaloosa to focus on the long process of restoring the house to its original state .
The process of restoring such a treasured work of one of America ’ s most beloved architects is no small matter and involves a lot of decisions about what should be restored and what should not . Reed says the floor , ceiling , and plenty in between requires work before the house can be considered faithful to Wright ’ s original intent .
She doesn ’ t just want to restore the house , however . She also wants to use it as a learning experience to those who visit it . For that reason , while Reed is working to make the house as faithful to Wright ’ s vision as possible , she isn ’ t planning to fix every little bit
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