The Lexington Herald Leader put it correctly when they stated that "For the architecture world, there is a collective sigh of relief that one of the most iconic residences in the world, which has had a tumultuous decade, could be safe for now," after the Miller House in Lexington, Kentucky was sold at auction to a buyer who has expressed interest in preserving the home and possibly finding ways to share it with the public.
The home was designed by French architect Jose Oubrerie, a protégé of Le Corbusier and former dean of the College of Design at the University of Kentucky, and completed in the late 1980s. It is notable for incorporating three dwellings in one - designed to accomodate the original owners, who wanted independent spaces for an older couple and their two adult children - with a central atrium that serves as a common area.
In 2017, after some years of being under-used and falling into disrepair, it was was put on the market and purchased by Jennifer Mclure, who restored it. In 2014-16, a McMansion development went up around the home, so when it was announced earlier this month that the home would be auctioned, preservationists were concerned a developer might purchase with the intent of demolishing the home.
Word spread quickly after an article appeared in The Architect's Newspaper in late May that the Miller House would go to auction. A city planner and councilperson in California who grew up near the home even shared a thread about how sneaking into the home with his friends inspired him to take an interest in architecture and urban planning:
Okay, I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations is up on this, so here it goes: I grew up like a quarter mile away from this thing. My friends would regularly sneak inside. It's a truly an incredible building and it's a crime what has happened to it. https://t.co/PhBQld0HOo— Councilman 𝗡𝗼𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗚𝗿𝗮𝘆 AICP (@mnolangray) May 26, 2021
Luckily, in this case, there is reason for hope. The winner bidder at the auction, hedge fund executive Stephen Taylor, is a fan of the architecture. “I thought it was cool, but it was the inside that really sold me,” Taylor told the Herald Leader. “The inside was just stunning — I love all the nooks and crannies. It’s also deceptive from the outside, you think there’s a lack of privacy, but when you get inside you realize you do have a lot of private space and that’s the beauty and brilliance of great architecture.”
He also expressed interest in the possibilities of making it possible for students and architecture professionals to see the building and also getting historic protection for it.
Docomomo US will stay tuned for future updates and share them here.