Alden Dow Home and Studio, Midland

4.7
#4 of 11 in Things to do in Midland
Alden B. Dow House and Studio, also known as Alden B. Dow Home & Studio, in Midland, Michigan, was the house and studio that were the residence and acknowledged masterpiece of 20th century architect Alden B. Dow. The quality and originality of his work, as well as his association with Frank Lloyd Wright, have earned him lasting national recognition.Construction for the first studio began in 1934, while the majority of the United States was struggling through the Great Depression. With the Dow Chemical Company located in Midland Michigan, the community had not been hit as hard as the rest of the country. Being that Alden was a child of the Dow Chemical founder, Herbert H. Dow, he had many opportunities within Midland to practice architecture. The first studio was completed in 1935 and construction for the second studio began in 1936. The second studio was completed in 1937. The studio was created as a workplace for Alden’s architectural firm. As well as the two drafting rooms, there was also an entry and reception area and the sunken conference room, which sits below water level. The pond was created by diverting the stream that ran through the property. The studio portion also had a woodshop, an office and Alden’s office which was the buffer between the studio and home. The woodshop has been turned into a museum with a gift shop.Dow built his home and studio between 1937 and 1940. Throughout the home there are visible construction materials including the building blocks that were patented in 1935, "Unit Blocks". Alden Dow’s exploration of block construction began after graduating from the Columbia School of Architecture in 1931 and an eight-month apprenticeship at the Taliesin (studio) in 1933. Alden Dow, along with Robert Goodall, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s draftsman, created a rhomboid block, mostly with a square face in 16 different sizes. This became known as Alden B. Dow’s Unit Block building system. Dow used them to form walls and terraces, as well as decoration elements such as the stepping stones in the surrounding pond on the property. In addition to the unique shape and structural integrity of the building blocks, the other identifying characteristic of the Unit Blocks was that they were made of the cinder that he saw piling up outside The Dow Chemical Company furnaces. His father, Herbert Dow, had utilized this same cinder waste to construct “clinker” bridges in their family gardens (now, Dow Gardens).
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Alden Dow Home and Studio Reviews
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92 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • I was able to get a detailed and behind the scenes view of this house, experiment and working architectural studio. First and most important- the staff is amazing. Even if the place was not interestin...  more »
  • I went with my husband and a friend for the Christmas holiday tour. The guide was very knowledgeable and welcomed questions. The tour group was small (seven of us), so it was easy to ask questions and...  more »
  • I took an out of town business associate on this tour one fall afternoon when it was too rainy to get outside for a hike. Being from San Francisco, she had low expectations yet was very interested in ...  more »
Google
  • Beautiful home and studio. I highly recommend this tour if you're interested in art, architecture, furniture, and design. There's a lot of information about how the home was built, including years and information about the unique blocks used to build the whole complex. The house and studio have all original furniture and design. There's a lot of color everywhere and unique features. Details from the carpet to the trains running throughout the house are exciting and surprising. Everything exemplifies Alden B. Dow's and Mid century Midwestern style. Much of the furniture was designed by Dow and manufactures by Herman Miller. This is a real sneak peak into his life and talent. You can even sit on the furniture. The tour guide was knowledgeable of Dow, his family, Frank Lloyd Weight, Dow's connection to Wright, his influence on style and architecture, and Dow's connection to the city of Midland. In December, there's a Christmas tour and the house is decorated for Christmas. We even got Christmas cookies and cider during a break. However, during the winter months you can't see the pond! If you go dieing spring/summer, you'll get a great view of the pond and Dow Gardens. This is worth the trip and great for locals! A must for Mid-Michigan.
  • Its da BEST HOUSE/STUDIO I HAVE EVER SEEM. its really really...(infinity reallys) NICE and very very... BEUTIFUL AND ITS REALLY NEAT AND BIG AND A GREAT PLACE TO VISIT. ITS INDESCRIBABLE U HAVE TO SEE FOR YOUR SELF. YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY CHECK IT OUT
  • We discover this gem when our son went to college in the area. Went back for a second look and enjoyed all over again! Our tour guide was steeped in knowledge and made it fun to tour. Would highly recommend this Historic Home.
  • Wonderful design.. informative guide.
  • The house and grounds are amazing. Our tour was great, and very well explained. Our tour guide was informative, but the reason it did not get 5 stars. She was sarcastic and very rude at times.

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