Bruce Goff’s Freeman House

Built in 1959 in Joplin, Missouri, this house designed by Bruce Goff was recently on the market, allowing me to grab the following photos from Realtor.com.   The house, designed for L. A. Freeman, boasts an impressively intact interior.  The exterior has had easily reversible alterations made to it.   Goff’s use of glass cullet in and around the house is striking and highly memorable.

If you are not familiar with Goff’s work, here is a video made shortly before he died in 1982 which is definitely worth watching:   We Don’t Like Your House, Either!

 

Entry elevation.

 

Goff loved glass cullet, and the Freeman house is full of it!

 

Spire-like chimney and posts crowned with cullet.

 

The cullet-filled planter in the foreground frames the steps to the living room.

 

Fireplace with peripherally sky-lit chimney.

 

The split-level plan has a central stair.

 

Entry/stair/seating/bar/hall.

 

How could anyone not love this place?!

 

Looking up toward the bedroom level.

 

Family room.

 

Another view of the living room.

 

The beautifully intact kitchen!

 

Stair to bedroom level.

 

Bedroom.

 

Bedroom.

 

Bathroom.

 

This photo hanging on an interior wall shows the rear of the house as originally constructed. The fantastic screened room has been replaced by an open deck and the vertical siding – which originally had a natural finish – has been replaced with painted shingles and clapboard.

 

The abbreviated version of the porch as it is today.

 

A scene in the yard…

 

More cullet…

 

…and more.

 

10 Responses to Bruce Goff’s Freeman House

  1. Bruce Goff died more than 30 years ago – in poverty. He and his numerous astonishing works are all still virtually unknown. That such a visionary goes unrecognized neither reflects well on the present nor bodes well for our future.

    I recently purchased an interesting video titled “Goff in the Desert” which was produced by Heinz Emigholz, a German filmmaker. It has a sound track, but no narration or conversation; just background sounds. It is slightly surreal, but a great doucumentary of Goff’s work. I highly recommend it. Here’s a link to it on Amazon: Goff in the Desert

  2. I have been to the Goff Ford House in Aurora IL. It is truly amazing. Worth searching in Google images. And, it is owned by someone who really loves and respects it.

    • I just double checked. If you Google “Goff House Aurora” and click on images, there are a lot of them.

    • I’m happy to learn that the owner of the Ford House loves and respects it – it is my favorite extant Goff-designed house. Its red quonset hut ribs are the inspiration for a greenhouse I am building! I searched for images as you suggested and was not disappointed… great stuff! The video I mentioned in the post got its title from a sign Mrs. Ford placed in her yard when curiosity-seekers began to gawk. Her sign stated: “We Don’t Like Your House Either!”

      • Yes, the owner is great. He thought about putting double paned glass in to help conserve heat, but he knew that the double panes would ruin the reflection in the glass of the quonset ribs, in effect doubling them. So, he simply keeps a hat on inside during the winter. That house is one of the most magical interiors I have witnessed. He used the slag glass and shiny coal for parts of the wall construction – it is like seeing cryptonite glowing in the walls.

        • If only all owners of significant architecture were so caring! Goff’s use of glass cullet and coal was extremely innovative and, as you noted, magical. I am currently remodeling a ho-hum 1960’s house and Goff’s influence will be everywhere! I am having a very difficult time finding a source for glass cullet. I’ve found that most glass manufacturers don’t want to be bothered with it and/or are selling it to others who market it as pricey garden decor. Soooo…. I’ve begun saving bottles (now close to 2,000 of them) and will be melting them down to make my own custom cullet! I will not be using coal, though I do appreciate its appeal. Has the coal weathered well at the Ford House?

          • The coal is holding up really well. It is super bright and shiny – is that anthracite coal? The combination of shiny coal and the vibrant cryptonite green of the glass cullet is amazing. The owner told me a story about an early visitor coming through the house and being shocked by the use of flammable coal as a building material. I had the same thought. Then, either the Fords or Goff said: well, your own house is made of wood, right? That really reset my frame of thought on that issue! Good luck on your own cullet! That sounds so interesting. Is it a certain type of glass? One of my other favorite things about the Ford house is the use of creosote rope applied like trim in rows. If it is warm, you can still smell the creosote a little. The owner had pics of the place when he bought it and painted a piano orange to match the original – definitely fun.

  3. LOL! Love the quip about wood houses… it really shows how conditioned we are in terms of how we think about what buildings should be. No wonder they are mostly boring! My cullet will be made from melted Heineken bottles (green)… we will melt a test batch this winter to see if it will work as hoped or be a total disaster. I’ve also been socking away lots of heavy glass ashtrays of the type Goff favored, both green and clear. I’ve already installed three of them around my stove’s flue above the roof. I was hoping they would catch the sun during the day, but mostly they just look like dark green diamonds… sort of underwhelming. I will do a post on the bottle melting procedure when it happens!

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