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The Ritcher House is an example of Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian design
Photo by Jerry Blow, courtesy of Raleigh Historic Development Commission
The Ritcher House is perhaps the best North Carolina example of the Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian mode of design. It is one of several Modernist houses built in Raleigh from the 1940s to the 1960s. These houses were the manifestation of architectural concepts embraced by the faculty of the School of Design, established in 1948 at North Carolina State College (now North Carolina State University). Dean Henry Kamphoefner recruited several Modernist architects as faculty members, and was instrumental in influencing other Modernists to come to North Carolina to practice. He also brought internationally known architects to the school to lecture and to lead studio workshops. The faculty designed several residences for themselves, other faculty members, or for a small group of clients interested in new ideas in architecture. Built for the most part on relatively ample, wooded suburban lots, located on what then were the outskirts of the city, a key element in most of the designs is a careful integration of the house with its site.

The Ritcher House was designed in 1951 by George Matsumoto. An experiment in low-cost, modular construction, the one-story building with intersecting flat and shed roofs is designed and crafted with the care given to a piece of cabinetry. The house is built with heavy-timber, post-and-beam framing using a three-foot module that is scribed into a Cherokee-red concrete floor. Integrated carefully into a sloping, wooded site, the Ritcher House presents a mostly closed facade to the street and opens up into a terrace and landscaped yard at the rear. This south-faced glazing is balanced with a deep overhang, so that the living spaces are shaded in the summer and warmed by the sun in the winter, while the north side of the house contains mostly windowless bathroom, kitchen and utility spaces. With operable windows, the house could be naturally ventilated from side to side in the summer, while being radiantly heated in the winter by water pipes buried in the concrete floors. In a jaunty note, the round chimney flues are painted a bright orange. The Ritcher House is a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark.

The Ritcher House is located at 3039 Churchill Rd. It is a private residence and is not open to the public.

 [graphic] Early History Essay  [graphic] Suburbanization Essay  [graphic] Preservation Essay
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 [graphic] Modernism Essay

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