A mid-century modern residence designed in 1958 by architect Kenneth McCoy Scott (1925–1980)—one of the first graduates of the North Carolina State University School of Design—has recently been put up for sale in Durham, N.C., and local modern design preservation advocate Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) is trying to get the word out in an effort to find a new owner who will treasure it. The house is a prime teardown target because of its location on a golf course with an adjacent empty lot that's also for sale.
"It's one of the purest examples in our area of mid-century modern architecture," TMH executive director and founder George Smart says of the two-bedroom, two-bathroom home. The site, he adds, "is prime developer bait: buy both lots, tear down the house, and put up a 10,000-square-foot monster house."
The 2,316-square-foot residence, which Scott designed for John and Binford Carr, appears to have come directly out of Frank Lloyd Wright's "Usonian Home" playbook. It is a small, single-story building with a carport and an inner courtyard, into which most of the living spaces have views via floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors. Brick and warm wood finishes were used throughout the house's interiors. The private courtyard and surrounding property were designed by landscape architect Lewis Clarke, FASLA, ARIBA. The current owners have lived in the house since it was built and have maintained it meticulously. The kitchen has been updated, and a small room—also designed by Scott—has been added to the side of the house.
Modern houses in the Raleigh-Durham area tend to sit on the real estate market for a long time waiting for a buyer, Smart says, "but we're hoping to shorten that by giving it the publicity it deserves." Because there is no preservation easement on the house, he adds, "it's completely unprotected."
The house is "an excellent candidate for National Register [of Historic Places] status, because it's an example of great modernism," he continues, "and because it's basically been undisturbed, hasn't had any crazy renovations, and is in excellent structural condition." His organization hopes to prevent a developer from purchasing the house for teardown purposes and to help find a buyer who will take steps to protect the residence in perpetuity by applying for a preservation easement or National Register status.
The Carr Residence is listed for sale at $665,000. To view the MLS listing, click here. For more information about Kenneth McCoy Scott's work in the Raleigh-Durham area, visit www.trianglemodernisthouses.com/scott.htm.
TMH recently hosted a workshop, "Putting the Ease in Easements: How to Save Modernist Houses from Future Bulldozers," that taught local modern-house owners the ins and outs of obtaining preservation easements. A panel of speakers discussed ways to make the easement process easier, as well as the costs involved. Video and presentations from the workshop are available for viewing here.