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1950s, Modernist, USA

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Toufic H. Kalil House in Manchester, New Hampshire

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Toufic H. Kalil House in Manchester, New Hampshire
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Toufic H. Kalil House in Manchester, New Hampshire (image credit: Paula Martin Group)

An absolute dream of a house, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Toufic H. Kalil House in Manchester, New Hampshire is now up for sale.

A dream because this is so perfectly well-preserved and because of its rarity value too. One of only seven Usonian Automatic houses designed and constructed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

What is Usonian Automatic? Well, Usonian from the United States of America to denote a national style and Automatic because this was intended to be a new and easy way of building modular houses moderate in cost for the streamlined lifestyle of post-war Americans.

Those houses used a concrete masonry building system, allowing materials to be manufactured and sent to the owners in a kit form for self-construction. The problem was that these large-scale puzzles were difficult to assemble, hence why so few actually made it from the drawing board into reality. This one required a total of 4,800 of the Usonian Automatic blocks.

A look around, both inside and out, shows you just how this selection of blocks sits together. Quite impressively, I have to say, especially if you add in the Wright-designed original furnishings and fittings.

The people responsible for putting it together were Dr Toufic Kalil and his wife Mildred, who oversaw its construction back in 1955. Despite the passing years, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy describes the house as being in ‘remarkably good condition’, with the agent adding that the place is in ‘move-in’ condition. Perhaps that’s because the house has never actually left the Kalil family. Until now that is, with this FLW design hitting the open market for the very first time this month.

There is so much to appreciate here. Of course, the striking architecture is the first talking point, a distinctive look as a result of all those blocks, both in terms of the walls and the windows, the latter essentially arrangements of similar glass blocks. Similar ceilings too, as you would expect. But this isn’t just about the concrete.

Check out all that amazing, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed furniture in place here, not least the built-in storage, the seating and the beds as well as the panels of Philippine mahogany wood, a red poured concrete floor, the original kitchen units and fittings, the desks, the lamps, the coffee tables, the internal doors – even the original bathroom. This is as authentic as it comes.

But the two standouts for me are the concrete fireplace and something you might not spot at first glance, the original audio system for the house.

In fact, this is the original and fully functional monophonic, vacuum-tube hi-fi system, complete with a Weathers vinyl turntable, a McIntosh MR55 FM tuner, a Marantz Model 1 preamp, a McIntosh MC60 audio amp, a JansZen Model 130 electrostatic tweeter and a JansZen Model 250 10” woofer. I know some of you love detail like this. The Hi-fi system has been removed, the vacuum tubes fully tested, cleaned and repaired. According to the agent, it ‘sounds fantastic as an audiophile system from 1955’. A wonderful little detail.

It is also worth noting that this isn’t just a house lost in time. Someone has done checks and updates over the years, with the likes of the electrics updated (some LED lights have been added in too) and the structure itself checked, with any issues remedied. See the full list of updates on the agent’s site. Regular maintenance has taken place, which should give a prospective buyer peace of mind.

There is 1,406 sq. ft. of living space here, with the floorplan showing two bedrooms, two bathrooms, the dominant reception area that takes in the living room, the dining area and the kitchen, along with a utility area, a gallery space and a study. Separate from the main house is what seems to be quite a substantial studio too.

There is so much more background detail on the agent’s site for the house, as well as some original 1950s photos from the Kalil family photo collection to browse as well.

So have a look at all of that, especially if you have funds available to buy the place. It is on the market for $850,000.

Images and details courtesy of Paula Martin Group. For more details and to make an enquiry, please visit the website.

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