The R.W. Lindholm House, “Mäntylä,” designed by Wright in 1952 and built in Cloquet, Minnesota, was donated by owners Julene and Peter McKinney to Usonian Preservation Inc., the nonprofit corporation affiliated with Polymath Park in Acme, Pennsylvania. The deal followed efforts by the house’s owners and the Conservancy to find a solution to secure the long-term viability of the house in view of significant encroachment of retail development over the years. The house had been vacant for more than two years and its overall condition had deteriorated substantially, including the failure of the original in-floor heating system. These factors created marketing challenges that proved insurmountable despite the efforts of the Conservancy and the owners.

The building—minus the concrete block and pad—was deconstructed during April and May 2016 and moved to Polymath Park with completed reconstruction planned for spring 2017. Copies of the original drawings will remain with the house, along with other archival material. It will be protected by a preservation easement and monitored by the Conservancy. In 2007, Tom Papinchak (President of Usonian Preservation Inc.) and his wife, Heather, relocated the previously dismantled Wright-designed Elizabeth and Don Duncan House (1957) to the 130-acre park, located a half hour from Fallingwater and also home to two Usonian houses by Wright apprentice Peter Berndtson.

The reassembled Lindholm House will be showcased through Polymath Park’s overnight stays, educational programs and tours. The McKinneys are members of the family that originally commissioned the Wright-designed house and were committed to seeing it preserved. The Conservancy worked with the McKinneys to market the house to potential buyers who would keep the house on its original site as well as those who sought to relocate it. “The decision to relocate the house was a very difficult one for us,” stated Peter McKinney. “The house has been in our family for over 60 years and our son, David, grew up there. The three of us believe this solution is best for the long-term survival of the house.”

“The decision to relocate the house was a very difficult one for us,” says the former owner.

The Conservancy’s Advocacy Committee co-chairs Ron Scherubel and Tim Quigley, AIA, facilitated the deal and will monitor the reconstruction process with Conservancy board member and Buffalo, New York-based architect Patrick J. Mahoney, AIA, to ensure Wright’s design and its built fabric are preserved. Quigley stated, “As with a small number of other relocated Wright-designed Usonians, notably the Gordon and Bachman-Wilson houses, a meticulous reconstruction according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards will be undertaken. Tom Papinchak, a design-build professional, will head the reconstruction team, with oversight provided by the Conservancy’s Advocacy Committee.”

Restoration architect and former Advocacy Committee co-chair John G. Thorpe had been working with Scherubel and others from the Conservancy to find a solution to save the house since August 2015 and until his death in January 2016. In explaining the approach selected, Scherubel said, “The Conservancy has long disfavored moving a Wright house unless its demolition is imminent or its site becomes so compromised that it is unmarketable. Despite efforts to market the house, the McKinneys and the Conservancy concluded that there was no viable long-term future for the house as a residence on its once secluded, wooded site, which had become encroached by burgeoning retail development along a brightly lit and noisy commercial strip.”

The new owners are enthusiastic about the next chapter for the house. “The addition of the Lindholm house at Polymath Park will allow the public to explore what the Lindholm and McKinney families experienced for three generations,” said Tom Papinchak. “Our intention is to keep the spirit of these families and their house alive by providing a platform for our guests to immerse themselves in architecture and find a true sense of what Wright intended for his clients.”

Posted June 8, 2016