AAA Travel Tips / 7 Amazing Mid-century Modern Buildings in the U.S.

7 Amazing Mid-century Modern Buildings in the U.S.

flickr/Mark B. Schlemmer
By AAA Travel Editor Patricia Miller
October 25, 2018
The popularity for all things mid-century modern (MCM) has risen to an all-time high. Satisfy your curiosity or expand your knowledge of this architectural style with a trip to these innovative buildings that illustrate the movement. Visits to these magnificent structures will be among some of the most fun things to do on your vacation.
Exterior photo at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin in Spring Green Wisconsin
flickr/David Silverman
Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin
Spring Green, Wisconsin
(608) 588-7900
Wright, one of the world’s most celebrated modern architects, designed the buildings and furniture on this 800-acre property from the 1890s to the 1950s. Composed of 20 structures, including the visitor’s center, school, studio, and Wright’s residence, this AAA GEM® attraction embodies Prairie-style architecture. Taliesin’s organic style heavily influenced MCM architects of later years and features low-lying buildings, horizontal lines, open spaces, geometric furniture and minimal decoration.
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Black and white Checkerboard Floor
titoslack/iStockphoto.com
Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio
Lenox, Massachusetts
(413) 637-0166
The name of this home might not easily roll off the tongue or be familiar to those who aren’t MCM aficionados, but nonetheless it’s well worth a visit. The stunning modern art collection is set amid a backdrop of checkered marble floors and a spiral staircase highlighted with a Cubist fresco. Abstract artists/early modernists Suzy Frelinghuysen and George L.K. Morris outfitted their Bauhaus-style stucco-and-glass home with Cubist art, including pieces by Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso, as well as Art Deco furnishings by Alvar Aalto, Donald Deskey and Gilbert Rohde.
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Exterior photo of Georgia O'Keeffe Home & Studio in Abiquiu New Mexico
flickr/Ron Cogswell
Georgia O'Keeffe Home & Studio
Abiquiu, New Mexico
(505) 685-4539
Georgia O’Keeffe is renowned for her modernist paintings of stark Southwest landscapes and intensely colored, magnified flowers, and her home in Abiquiu reflects her art. The artist purchased the house, set in the cliffs and badlands of New Mexico, in 1945 and lived there 1949-84. While not a typical mid-century home, its décor is a Southwestern take on the style, with clean lines, adobe walls and wood-beamed ceilings. The sparsely furnished interior features mid-century modern pieces and houses several of O’Keeffe’s works, including the painting “White Patio with Red Door,” the 1945 sculpture “Abstraction” and a mobile by Alexander Calder.
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Exterior photo of Gropius House in Lincoln Massachusetts
flickr/edward stojakovic
Gropius House
Lincoln, Massachusetts
(781) 259-8098
Built in 1938 by Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus School of Design and a pioneer in modernist architecture, this house combines natural elements like wood and brick with such space-age materials as glass and chrome. Inside, there are knick-knacks that belonged to the Gropius family as well as furnishings by Marcel Breuer; many pieces are made of leather and chrome in true Art Deco style, with a color scheme of black, white and gray accented by red splashes. MCM fans will recognize the living room’s iconic Saarinen womb chair and Yanagi butterfly stools.
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Exterior photo of Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale Arizona
flickr/Dru Bloomfield
Hotel Valley Ho
Scottsdale, Arizona
AAA Inspector Rating
(480) 248-2000
It's easy to picture Don Draper of “Mad Men” staying in this retro Scottsdale AAA Four Diamond hotel. Designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Valley Ho epitomizes the classic mid-century motor lodge, from its floor-to-ceiling windows and neat-o logo to space-age furnishings highlighted with pops of pumpkin, turquoise and lemon. Opened in 1956, it quickly became a favorite of Hollywood movie stars and well-known baseball players like Joe DiMaggio. Today, the hotel is a well-crafted cocktail of mid-century chic and modern conveniences, including large soaking tubs, private patios, in-room yoga, mini bars and a rooftop beer garden.
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Exterior photo of The Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan Connecticut
flickr/Mark B. Schlemmer
The Philip Johnson Glass House
New Canaan, Connecticut
(203) 594-9884
Imagine living in a house with glass walls. Architect Philip Johnson did, and this AAA GEM® attraction built in 1949 is the result of his creative genius. Not only did Johnson build it, he lived in it for 56 years. This iconic home, designed with the landscape in mind, has no inner walls and is appointed with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe furnishings, including Barcelona chairs and a leather-and-chrome daybed designed especially for Johnson.
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Exterior night shot of South Street Diner in Boston Massachusetts
flickr/John Stephen Dwyer
South Street Diner
Boston, Massachusetts
AAA Inspector Rating
(617) 350-0028
When it comes to diners, this 1947 Boston restaurant is the real deal, with chrome stools at the counter, neon lights and cobalt Vitrolite on its exterior walls. The greasy spoon has been featured in Esquire magazine and films, including a 2012 documentary. Open 24/7, South Street Diner is popular with clubgoers after hours and is one of the coolest places to eat in Boston. Sink your teeth into a burger or sandwich at this AAA One Diamond restaurant or try the scrumptious Boston cream pancakes if you’re craving breakfast or dessert.
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