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Architect Edward Loewenstein moved to Greensboro in 1945, after marrying Frances Stern, the daughter of a prominent Greensboro family. He established a design practice and then partnered with Robert A. Atkinson Jr. in 1953, becoming a local leader of modernist design. Over three decades, Loewenstein and Atkinson completed 1,600 commissions, including Loewenstein’s own residence, a masterpiece of modern architecture set in a two-acre wooded suburban lot approximately three miles north of downtown Greensboro. It is surrounded largely by Georgian and Colonial revival structures, some of which date from the 1920s.
The Loewenstein House exhibits many characteristics of midcentury modern design: a single-story, open floor plan that stretches out horizontally on the site; flat and low-sloped roofs; large expanses of windows; an informal relationship to the street; and connections from the inside spaces to the surrounding landscape. In spite of the abundance of floor-to-ceiling windows, the house offers privacy—a wood fence and shrubs screen the entry and major portions from view.
The site design includes elements of the picturesque that complement the house’s clear modernist influence. A curved driveway and walkway leads to the carport and entry. Inside the house, the focus is turned outside by means of large, south-facing slanted windows in the living room. The yard adjacent to the house serves as a sculpture garden set among a stand of old-growth shade trees. Large ceilings and a curved stone wall connect to the residence’s outdoor living spaces and natural surroundings. Loewenstein’s dedication to nature can be seen in the way he handles the openings in the house. The walls of windows, some canted, are placed in a way that brings sunlight in while keeping the heat of the summer sun out. Additionally, the open floor plan, exposed roof beams, and unusual geometry illustrate Loewenstein’s modernist training. One of the unusual features of the house is the fireplace: rather than a traditional chimney, which would have blocked the view and obstructed the light, Loewenstein attached a motor to an underground duct to pull smoke from the house.
Loewenstein became a significant figure in Greensboro not just for the infusion of modernism to the landscape of the city, but also because of his progressive ideas. Loewenstein taught at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, then known as the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina. A house designed by his class of twenty-three female interior design students in 1958 was profiled in McCalls magazine. This course for “college girls” was intended to “demonstrate actual planning, design, construction, and finishing of a home.” It was hailed as “a unique project … an educational first!” for a profession that was largely dominated by men. Loewenstein was familiar with pushing social norms. Loewenstein and Atkinson was the first white firm in Greensboro to hire African American architects and design professionals, among them William Streat (Loewenstein’s MIT classmate) and W. Edward Jenkins.
Today, the house is occupied by the architect’s daughter, Jane Loewenstein Levy. It is a private residence that is not open to the public.
Bisher, Catherine W. “Loewenstein and Atkinson.” North Carolina Architects and Builders. Accessed March 11, 2019. http://ncarchitects.lib.ncsu.edu/.
“Designed by 23 College Girls.” McCalls, November 1, 1958.
“Tracing an Architecturally Brazen Greensboro, 1944-1975.” Greensboro's Treasured Places. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://preservationgreensboro.org/.
Weaver, Laurie. “Heart and Soul Behind Edward Loewenstein’s Home.” Our State North Carolina. Accessed March 11, 2019. http://www.ourstate.com/.
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