The Small House 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.
One of the most influential architects that Kamphoefner helped bring to North Carolina was G. Milton Small, who moved to Raleigh in 1948 after studying with Mies Van der Rohe in Chicago. Over the next several decades, Small produced a body of work that distinguished him as the most accomplished proponent of Miesian modernism in the area. Among Small's interesting early works in Raleigh is the house he built for himself and his family. In its original 1951 form, the Small House was a compact, T-shaped, flat-roofed frame box. Except for a small entrance hall, the public living spaces of the house were combined in one long, carefully proportioned rectangular room that opened with sliding doors onto a full-width, screened porch. This porch was cantilevered over a brick retaining wall and was oriented to provide the best view over the hillside to the east. Exposed beams and columns provided the framework for both floor and roof and the outside was covered with plywood paneling. Although the house was built at a very low cost, the interior incorporated veneer plywoods of a variety of exotic woods. This use of exotic materials, the definition of space as roof and floor separated by exposed posts, and the large public area that opens onto semi-outdoor spaces are typical Miesian details. In 1961, additions designed by Small were made to the sides of the house to provide additional space for bedrooms, and for separate living and dining rooms. A raised, paved terrace with trees was added along one side of the house to serve as an entrance court. The Small House is a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark.
The Small House is located at 310 Lake Boone Trail. It is a private residence and is not open to the public.
Comments or Questions