Roger Brown House in New Buffalo, Michigan

Roger Brown House in New Buffalo, Michigan

Heather Blaha
Sep 22, 2008

New Buffalo, Michigan has been coming up in conversation a lot lately. Three years ago, I took a drive with my dad to see if his grandparents' house was still there (a place he spent many childhood summers). It was! Recently, friends of ours went to the small town for a nearby getaway; this weekend, another friend is heading to the Roger Brown house. Brown was an art star of The School of the Art Institute, who completed his New Buffalo home and studio, designed by George Veronda, in 1979...

The story (courtesy of the Art Institute site):

In 1977 Roger Brown purchased property in New Buffalo, MI, a beach community 85 miles northeast of Chicago. He commissioned his partner, George Veronda, to design a home and studio retreat. Completed in 1979, the Veronda Pavilion, a residence, and the Roger Brown Studio and Guest House, are steel and glass modernist structures tucked into a secluded dunes landscape between the Galien River and the beachfront road. Clearly an homage to Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House (Plano, IL, 1950), the buildings are exquisite studies of geometric forms in the natural landscape.

The Pavilion and Guest House contain furnishings designed by Veronda, and an outstanding art collection assembled by Brown, including works by contemporary artists, tribal sculpture and textiles, works by folk and self-taught artists, and iconic examples of Brown's own work. The site is an integrated environment of art, architecture, and landscape architecture representing the collaborative visions of Brown and Veronda. Brown embraced the considerable transition from an 1880s storefront building, to the airy ambience of Modernism, with ease. The light-filled interiors provided a tabula rasa for the display of objects, and an ideal setting for Brown's bold and imposing Twin Towers sculpture. Installed in the living room, the arrangement creates an eloquent complimentary moment between Brown's and Veronda's architectural sensibilities.

Roger Brown's generosity to the School began in 1995 with his gift of his home, studio, and art collection in New Buffalo. Brown's intention for this gift was to provide an artists' retreat for SAIC faculty and staff, to facilitate the creation, study, and appreciation of art. The Studio, Pavilion and Guest House have been used since 1996 by SAIC faculty and full time staff, who may apply for two-week residencies through the faculty enrichment and sabbatical programs. With this facility the School offers artists from the SAIC community an ideal counterpart to the stimulation of Chicago's urban environment, at a secluded Lake Michigan retreat.

Read all about Roger Brown here, and learn more about his New Buffalo house here.

Images via the SAIC website (most views were taken by Roger Brown or George Veronda, from 1979 to the mid 1980s).

(Re-published from 05-15-2008)

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