After buying a forgotten Neutra (Part 1) and investigating the home’s background (Part 2), John and George find pleasant surprises—from Nakashima, no less—while completing the interior.
In completing interior work on the house, the Hassricks hired George Nakashima to build a floating credenza and sliding panels to partially close the kitchen off from the living room; Neutra reportedly didn’t care for the panels. There is also a wooden sculpture above the door that we have been told was carved and installed by Nakashima himself. It is surprising that in the years that the house was unlocked, with doors wide open, the Nakashima panels were never stolen.
Two of the Hassrick children have stopped by, and the Sawyers, who owned the home up until 2001, have also come to visit. Everyone is thankful to see the house getting back to its original glory, and we have heard some amazing stories from the past.
For instance, I kept seeing the word ‘cage’ on the floor plans and finally learned from the family that it was designed to house their pet monkey, Rosebud, a kinkajou. And during the 1960 Kennedy election, the power went out, so they opened the large glass doors and drove the car into the living room to listen to the news on the radio. Then there are stories of wild parties in the ’60s and ’70s, and about the phallic shape of the pool.
Richard Neutra designed four houses in the Philadelphia area. The Hassrick House had been on the endangered properties list since 2007 and came very close to being demolished. In 2008 it was officially designated historic by the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia and is now protected. It was because of the Preservation Alliance and their involvement that we were able to acquire this home and, in doing so, prevent another unfortunate demolition story.
Today, the house and surrounding property maintain a uniquely warm, natural aesthetic—or as the Hassricks put it, “gemütlich,” agreeably pleasant. In an initial letter to Neutra the couple requested that the house “work efficiently, pleasure the eye, comfort the soul and warm the heart.” Even though there was a time when it sat forgotten, quiet and waiting, the house is very much alive again. We are so fortunate to call it home.