Currier Museum Purchases Second Frank Lloyd Wright House

Nov 15, 2019

The Currier Museum is adding a second Frank Lloyd Wright home to its collection.

The museum announced Friday that it purchased the Toufic H. Kalil House on Heather Street in Manchester. The concrete and glass structure is down the street from the Wright-designed Zimmerman House, which the Currier has opened for tours since 1990. 

[You can find NHPR's previous coverage of the Kalil House here.]

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony inside the home, museum director Alan Chong said an anonymous donor stepped forward to cover the $970,000 purchase. Chong believes the Currier is now the only museum in the world with two Wright properties in its collection.

“Increasingly, art is not about a painting on a wall that you shuffle around every couple of years,” said Chong. “We now look for more immersive environments…and increasingly this experience moves outside of the museum walls.”

The Kalil House was put on the market in September after the death of the house's last occupant, John Kalil, at the age of 101. 

In the 1950s, Toufic and Mildred Kalil commissioned the house after falling in love with what Wright designed for their friends the Zimmermans down the street. Wright, however, delivered a radically different house: The Kalil House is made out of 4,800 individually cast concrete rectangles, reinforced with rebar. The blocks--each about 220 pounds--compose the walls and ceiling of the 1,480 square foot main home, with 350 individual windows allowing light to pour into the living space.

Wright called the building a ‘Usonian Automatic,’ one of just seven built in the United States. 

Wright’s vision for the Automatics was that buyers could participate in the home’s construction by pouring and stacking their own blocks. The Kalils, however, hired a professional builder. The home and a small outbuilding on the property cost around $70,000 to construct.

Toufiq Kalil lived in the house until his death in 1990. His younger brother John then resided in the home until his death in 2018. 

After undergoing renovations including work on the roof, the home hit the market in September with an asking price of $850,000.

The Currier currently offers 90-minute guided tours of the Zimmerman House, which include a short shuttle bus ride past the Kalil House. 

The museum says it is aiming to begin tours of its new property by spring.

“Our donor came forward with two goals,” said Chong. “Preserve a great Frank Lloyd Wright residence, and make sure it is accessible to the public for education.”

(This story has been updated from its original version.)