Begun in 1926 as a sculpting studio, the stone portion was modeled after the local stone barns, the large north window replacing the doors for the hay wagon. An excellent example of organic Arts and Crafts Movement architecture, its massive stone walls, with deeply raked joints revealing the individual stones, taper and curve out at the base‚ much as a tree trunk grows.
Initially, the uphill half had a packed earth floor to support the large logs Esherick used and provided good footing for swinging the axe, his favorite sculpting tool. The downhill half had a basement with a wood floor above, where his woodcuts were carved and printed.
Above the studio, he built a bedroom with his bed at window height so he could watch the deer, enjoy the sunrise, and, in the morning light, see all the farms spread out in the valley below. He used the space beneath for drawers for his clothing. He shaped the ceiling, using an art deco technique, to create a more sculptural space.
Later, in his Expressionist period, he added the wooden living quarters, including a prismatic kitchen with a bath beneath, a dining room, and a bedroom above for his son, Peter. In the 1960s he added the lyrical, curvilinear tower‚ he called it his silo‚ to provide a larger kitchen, and built a free-form deck where he could enjoy the evening breezes.
Wharton Esherick had been attracted to this site in 1913 by an unusually large wild cherry tree shading the old stone farmhouse that would be home for his family. When the tree died, he sawed its branches to make the fanning wall paneling in the studio's dining room. The floor is a curvilinear mosaic of walnut and applewood scraps. The ceiling is of oak boards too checked for any other use.
Esherick's outhouse, built shortly after he completed the Arts and Crafts portion of his Studio, is a three sided Expressionist crystalline form that looks out over the Great Valley. After Wharton installed a bathroom in the studio in 1947, the outhouse slowly rotted on the hillside until it was taken down and its parts were stored. The outhouse has been recently reconstructed under the shelter of Esherick's woodshed.
His 1928 Expressionist log garage, with curving roof surfaces and diagonally skewed ridge, is a playful study in concave and convex. It currently houses the Museum's visitor center.
When the township insisted that he submit plans for a proposed workshop in 1956, Esherick sought help from his friend Louis Kahn. The resulting collaboration shows the tension between their differing design ideas‚ three hexagons, each with three diamond-shaped roof planes, form an arc. Kahn's drawings show straight walls, but Wharton sneaked a slight curve into each during construction. The workshop is now a residence and is not part of the tour.
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