After nearly 60 years, one of Marcel Breuer’s last mid-century modern homes has been demolished
As is the case with so many homes, especially in the United States, the beloved Geller I home has changed hands a few times. The Gellers deeded their home to their son and his wife, Burton and Helene Geller, who sold the house in 1992 to Edward and Laura Labaton. Seeing that nearly 30 years had passed since the house was built, the new owners commissioned John F. Capobianco to make some much needed modifications. Like the Gellers, the Labatons sold Geller House I in 2020 to Shimon and Judy Eckstein, who would be the last to enjoy mid-century splendor.
For the same reason young renegades wouldn’t graffiti historical landmarks, design aficionados wouldn’t tear down a mid-century icon – at least, they’re not supposed to. It is an unspoken rule. Perhaps the most egregious violation? It was demolished to make way for a tennis court. The classic mid-century structure was apparently torn down to combine two plots (with room to create a larger house) and build the tennis court.
Breuer was not just an architect and furniture designer who lived through one of the world’s most influential movements; he is one of the most recognizable names to emerge from the movement, and his legacy is proof of that. Marcel Breuer’s chairs, including the coveted Cesca, may have made him famous, but his architectural triumphs will forever be remembered. He designed everything from beach houses on Cape Cod to the Whitney Museum of American Art, a brutalist concrete masterpiece in the heart of New York City. His work is history that, in Lawrence, New York, has been erased. Did we mention Geller House I was Breuer’s first residential project?
At just 19, he enrolled at Germany’s famous BAUHAUS, where he honed his skills and developed his very specific style. Tubular steel pieces, including the Wassily chair, earned him the international fame he deserved. That said, he was not as esteemed for his homes as he was for his furniture. During his time as a professor at Harvard University – throughout the 1950s until the late 1970s – he actually established an architecture practice with his design mentor, Walter Gropius.