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Palmer, William B. and Mary Shuford, House
227Orchard Hills Drive, Ann Arbor - Washtenaw County
Property Type house
Historic Use DOMESTIC/single dwelling
Current Use DOMESTIC/single dwelling
Style Modern Movement
Architect/Builder Frank Lloyd Wright
Narrative Description The William B. and Mary Shuford Palmer House, built in 1950-1951, is a multilevel brick and cypress late period Frank Lloyd Wright house, the plan and design of which is based on the equilateral triangle. The house is sheltered by a long broad hipped roof with deep overhangs. The cantilever extending over the terrace is the most dramatic feature of the house. The walls are finished with brick that ranges from pale pink to light grayish yellowish brown, and the roof with wood shingles and copper flashing. The trim is clear grained cypress. The house rests on a red-tinted concrete mat. The chimney mass rises above the brick base and the roof. A window band encircles the house. Terraces extend from the porch off the living room of the house. Shallow stairs rise gradually to the main front entrance. The house has three wings arranged off the main entrance: Beyond the entrance to the north, the long loggia of the carport extends to the projecting tool shed; to the east is the triangular living room wing; to the southwest the compact bedroom wing. The open interior is fitted with Wright-designed furniture and built-in cabinetry. The unique house is off a quiet unpaved road in a comfortable upper middle class subdivision close to the University of Michigan campus. Accessed from Orchard Hills Drive and the west, the house is carved into the crest of a hogback. The living area of the house overlooks to the southeast a downward sloping informal garden planted with deciduous trees and evergreens, shrubs, ground cover, bulbs and wildflowers. Paths lead from the grassy terrace off the living room, down the hill by the garden house, and meander over and along streams and a collecting pool and through the rest of the garden. The Palmer house exemplifies Wright's open, American organic architecture in which all parts are related to the whole and are linked to the environment in an adaptation of form to nature.
Statement of Significance The William B. and Mary Shuford Palmer House, designed and built in 1950-1951, is significant as one of the finest late works of master architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). The house is considered one of the best of a long series of houses based on a module which is either an equilateral triangle or a parallelogram. The house rests comfortably tucked into a hogback and surrounded by a lush informal garden that drops down the ravine to the east and southeast. The landscape garden possesses superior aesthetic quality and constitutes an important artistic statement. The house and the landscape garden meet national register criterion C in the area of architecture as one of the finest late works of master architect Frank Lloyd Wright in America and in the area of landscape architecture as one of the most luxurious and successful landscapes of all of Wright's commissions. The landscape garden was created in harmony with the house with the advice and actions of knowledgeable friends and from the Palmers' own research and travel.
Period of Significance 1950-1964
Significant Date(s) 1962-1964
Registry Type(s) 03/19/1999 National Register listed
Site ID# P35727