When Walter and Ise Gropius left Europe in 1937, they weren’t just fleeing political and artistic persecution—they were smuggling radical new design ideas to the United States, conceptually headquartered in the family home they built in colonial Lincoln, Massachusetts. Gropius designed the home in 1938, after accepting a teaching position at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and it shocked New Englanders with its bizarre glass blocks, chrome banisters, and metallic Breuer-designed furnishings.
With time, as midcentury modernism swept across the country, the Gropius House looked less out of place. It is now a time capsule for the tastes of this pioneering couple, since Ise (also known as “Mrs. Bauhaus”) dedicated the home and their personal belongings as a museum in 1979, 10 years after Walter’s death. Closets intentionally left open display the sleek wardrobe of Ise, who was equally comfortable wearing tailored dresses and jewelry fashioned from metal washers and wire. Gropius worked at a window-facing nook purposely built to house a wide double desk designed by Breuer.