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Neutra's Kraigher House to Be Saved

click images to view larger

A historic photo of the Kraigher House.


A recent photo of the house.
Images courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation

Richard Neutra’s Kraigher House, a 1937 International Style gem that has been on the verge of ruin for years, has been granted new life through the combined efforts of the City of Brownsville, Texas and the local branch of the University of Texas.

The house was designed for George Kraigher, a Pan American Airways pilot with a passion for Modern design, and is believed to be the first International-style house in Texas. Built of wood and stucco, it contains 1600 square feet on two levels, with the second story set back to create a Corbusien roof terrace and ribbon windows throughout. Kraigher left Brownsville in 1942, and the house began a long, slow decline into a windowless and nearly roofless hulk.

The city bought it for $150,000 in 1999 and last year received a $150,000 HUD grant towards restoration, which it is estimated will cost $300,000. The house made the National Trust’s Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2004.

When restoration is complete, the city will lease the house to the University of Texas at Brownsville for a proposed architecture program. “The Kraigher House is the only residence in [the city] with national significance,” says Ambrosio Villareal, founder of Preservation Brownsville. “That's why it is so important to restore it.”

 

David Dillon

 

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