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New Jersey Gets a Survey

February 14, 2011

The Modern Movement in the Garden State, has, until now, been an under-studied subject. However, with the help of a series of graduate and undergraduate interns from Rutgers University’s Art History department who are working with DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State, the topic is gradually coming into focus. Creation of a database that brings together basic information on property names, original owners, original architects, dates of construction, and historic and current photos is underway and is beginning to shed light on the variety of Modern buildings and landscapes that populate the state.

DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State board member Meredith Bzdak launched the survey project with the assistance of Nina Rappaport and is now organizing volunteers and overseeing its progress. New Jersey is home to works by a range of nationally and internationally recognized architects, among them Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Eero Saarinen, Robert Geddes, and Minoru Yamasaki. Princeton University, which boasts one of the country’s best known and most architecturally distinguished campuses, attracted and nurtured many talented architecture faculty during the Modern period. Their legacy lives on in Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, as well as in more distant locations across the state. One of the most significant legacies is that of Thaddeus Longstreth (1909–1997), whose archives reside at the University of Pennsylvania. Longstreth, who graduated from Yale and Princeton Universities, worked for Los Angeles architect Richard Neutra early in his career, assisting with such well known projects as the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, CA. After moving to Princeton, he designed many residences for faculty and the Institute for Advanced Study, as well as authoring the Princeton Public Library, buildings for Princeton’s Hun School, and libraries in Millburn and Roxbury.

Giving the survey effort a major boost is the enthusiasm of the project’s first intern, Alyson Goldman, an energetic art history major from Rutgers University. Alyson is sharing her experiences and findings, accompanied with photos, on the Preservation NJ blog. You can read her first post here.

Although great progress has been made, the New Jersey Modern Survey needs your help in uncovering the state’s “lost” Modern heritage. For more information, or to tell us about your favorite modern work, please send a note to our chapter’s email box:

NJ State Museum, GRAD Partnership, 1960s
photo: Ann Keen