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La Tourelle

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Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann House
1924–1925, Benno Janssen. 8 La Tourelle Ln., Fox Chapel

This exquisite eighteen-room fantasy seems more monastery or clubhouse than private residence, and not without reason. At least one of Benno Janssen's sketches refers to La Tourelle as a country house, which it may as well be, given its total isolation in spirit if not in mileage from Pittsburgh. The client was Edgar Kaufmann, an outsider to the clubby Pittsburgh elite for whom Janssen was designing mansions and clubhouses in the same years. Janssen's Longue Vue Club (AL89) stands a few miles away on the opposite bank of the Allegheny, and La Tourelle can best be understood as a private Longue Vue. The roofs have the same high pitch and narrow gabled dormers as Longue Vue, and they are covered in the same Vermont slate. And though the walls here are brick, not sandstone, Janssen gives the massing the same artistic visual fragmentation, juxtaposing the turreted entrance—the estate's namesake—with the main house, the servants' wing, and the equally picturesque garage. Inside, the appointments were no less careful: master ironworker Samuel Yellin forged a wealth of wrought-iron decoration for the house right in the main fireplace. La Tourelle was greatly admired through the 1930s as a consummate achievement in the academic revivalism favored by the nation's rich, but the client's attention was by then wandering to modernism. It was in La Tourelle's rich fake-medieval living room, in 1934, that Kaufmann discussed with Frank Lloyd Wright the building of a radically different country house in nearby Fayette County: Fallingwater (FA28).

Writing Credits

Author: 
Lu Donnelly et al.
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Data

Timeline

  • 1924

    Built

What's Nearby

Citation

Lu Donnelly et al., "La Tourelle", [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/PA-01-AL88.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 101-102.

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