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Bryn Gweled Homesteads

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1940, Robert F. Bishop and others. Bustleton Pike and Gravel Hill Rd.

Bryn Gweled (Welsh for “High Vision”) is another of the regional intentional communities formed by Quakers to address the social and cultural issues of contemporary life. Its most obvious local antecedents are William L. Price's Rose Valley ( DE26) and his utopian Single-Tax community at Arden, Delaware, both founded in 1901. Yet it also drew on Ralph Borsodi's School of Living and Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian community as represented in Broadacre City. Robert Bishop had worked for Wright on the latter's model and later traveled with it on its national tour when he was in the Taliesin Fellowship. With World War II underway in Europe, 80 families led by Bishop acquired a 240-acre farm, which they subdivided to provide each family with a two-acre lot that could be leased for ninety-nine years, on the model of the Arden Single-Tax community. The remaining land is shared open space with a community center, using remnants of the agricultural buildings of the original farm and a pool, again recalling Arden.

Small modern houses, many displaying the hallmarks of European and West Coast modernism, are juxtaposed against a second-growth woodland that is more “machine in the garden” than the triumphant overcoming of nature of early Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra buildings. Several of the more interesting houses are by community founder Bishop, who after working with Wright entered the modernist office of Baader, Young and Schultze. He later worked for the R. C. A. Corporation before opening his own office. On his own he was responsible for several of the more assertive modern buildings of the city including the Philadelphia Health Center No. 1 on S. Broad Street ( PH61) and the WCAU studio on City Line Avenue (see MO1). Bishop's own house, where Gravel Hill Road meets Bustleton Pike, is a good example of his mixture of Wrightian and European modernism with solid walls toward the road, lighted by a raised clerestory, and open toward the yard. More suburban than the far denser Arden, Bryn Gweled marks the fusion of Wright's understanding of the new import of the car in a suburban intentional community.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas
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Citation

George E. Thomas, "Bryn Gweled Homesteads", [Southampton, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/PA-02-BU48.

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