Modern Preservation

Usonian house remodel by Silent Rivers

This project, a Preservation Iowa winner, involved completely updating this unique 1958 Frank Lloyd Wright inspired ranch home including the living room, dining room, kitchen, bathrooms, floors, lighting, building systems, painting, restoration of a triangular concrete patio, and siding. We also designed and built a sympathetic screened porch addition and landscaping.

Usonian house in Des Moines after preservation remodel by Silent Rivers

Preserving the original design by architect George V. Russell, the Silent Rivers team incorporated the existing built-in shelving and bench seating into our remodeling work.

Usonian house in Des Moines before preservation remodel by Silent Rivers

This ‘before’ photo of the living room space is an example of the many built-in features of this mid-century home.

The “official” cutoff for being considered a “historic” building is 50 years — once a building reaches that threshold, it becomes potentially eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination process involves substantial research into the building’s architectural significance, the part it plays in understanding broad historic movements and development patterns, and/or its association with significant historic people.

Interestingly, many preservationists are wary of the implications as buildings constructed in the 1950s and ’60s become eligible for consideration. While there are many fine examples (this project included) of significant design from this era, it is also a time when building patterns, materials, and methods started shifting away from craft towards mass production.

Iowa has a smattering of significant mid-century modern homes that will start to require major renovation in the coming years. We are glad to be leaders in this movement and look forward to future mid-century projects!

Every year Preservation Iowa selects outstanding Iowa projects in several categories including commercial, adaptive reuse, residential, and public buildings. In 2012 Silent Rivers received a statewide “Preservation at Its Best Award” from Preservation Iowa for our renovation of this home.

View photos and more information about this modern but historic preservation project.

Share this Page: