In October 1935, Architectural Forum showcased the modernist Race House as one of 101 small houses that were well designed and sufficiently inexpensive for a Federal Housing Administration–insured mortgage, although construction of this house likely predated the federal program. The FHA was then a new agency created to stimulate the market for moderately priced houses. President Franklin Roosevelt hoped FHA insurance would encourage skittish Great Depression–era bankers to make mortgage loans to people of modest means, part of his New Deal program to create construction jobs. Usually, the agency and the banks favored more traditional styles, believing that a conservative look would have better resale value in the event of default. Race herself originally wanted a Colonial Revival house. But she also wanted to take advantage of the beauty of the building’s site along the Fox River, and Russell convinced her that only an International Style design with expansive windows would provide the desired vistas. His plan allowed all the rooms except a guest bedroom to overlook a rear garden and the river beyond. Consequently, passersby see a blank face, dominated by a one-car garage (whose canopy and carport are a later addition). But the rear elevation conveys a dramatic sense of movement with its juxtaposition of blank stuccoed-concrete walls and glazed voids. The cubic volumes step back from one another to maximize the view from each room. A second-story terrace wraps around the rear. Inside, cork tiles cover the floor, and Vitrolite structural glass clads the fireplace mantels.
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Henrietta Race House
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