Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Freer house

Last night we went to a lecture about Iranian and Turkish Falnama (book of Omens) in Detroit. The lecture was just ok, but it was held at the Charles Lang Freer House (71 E. Ferry) which is amazing.
Charles Lang Freer was an industrialist and art collector and when he died he gave his collection of East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian and American art to the nation creating the Freer Gallery at the Smithsonian.  He left his house to Wayne State University where it now houses the Merrill Palmer Institute of Human Development and Family Life.

Built in 1892, the house is beautiful. On the exterior the first floor is blue limestone and the upper floors are made out of oak shingles. Maybe there are lots of houses like that in the world, but I can't remember seeing one.

The interior was designed to house Mr Freer's extensive art collection and it has 22 rooms with 12 fireplaces. The collection is now at the Smithsonian and the rooms are used as offices and lecture halls, but the wood work, fixtures and other details are meticulously maintained and lovely. My favorite part was that each room that had a fireplace also had a little, built-in, wooden bench next to it, which seems to me to be a brilliant way to survive a long Detroit winter. I wish I'd brought a camera so I could show you a picture.

(the peacock room at the Smithsonian is from the Freer House.)

photos from wikipedia, wayne state and flickr

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