At the end of a leafy residential street in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a remarkable home designed by George Nelson is as livable today as it was 55 years ago.
"Sally and I are again toying with the idea of building a house," begins a letter from James Kirkpatrick dated February 8, 1954. "You will recall that you looked over the rather grotesque plans that were made up for us by a local architect at some substantial cost," he continues, "and I in turn recall that upon looking at the plans, you indicated they were not for us which we both certainly agreed with."
The recipient of the letter, and "you" in question, was none other than George Nelson, husband of Sally Kirkpatrick's college roommate, Frances "Fritzi" Nelson. And so in this unassuming correspondence between family friends begins the story of a rather remarkable home. Over the course of the next four years, Nelson, along with his associate Gordon Chadwick, would execute a highly personalized design—a home tailored to the members and lifestyle of the Kirkpatrick family. This itself is not remarkable—it could be said of any architectural commission. What makes the Kirkpatrick House so special—then and now—are the universal qualities that transcend the specifics.