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After Nearly 60 Years, One of Marcel Breuer’s Last Mid Century Modern Homes Has Been Demolished

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As is the case with so many homes—especially in the U.S.—the beloved Geller I house changed hands a few times. The Gellers deeded their home to their son and his wife, Burton and Helene Geller, who sold the home in 1992 to Edward and Laura Labaton. Seeing how nearly 30 years had passed since the home was built, the new owners commissioned John F. Capobianco to make a few much-needed alterations. Like the Gellers, the Labatons sold the Geller House I in 2020 to Shimon and Judy Eckstein, who would be the last to enjoy the home’s mid century splendor.

For the same reason young renegades wouldn’t graffiti historic landmarks, design aficionados wouldn’t tear down a mid century icon—at least, they aren’t supposed to. It’s an unspoken rule. Perhaps the most egregious offense? It was knocked down to make room for a tennis court. The classic mid century structure was apparently knocked down to combine two plots (with room to create a larger home) and build the tennis court.

Marcel Breuer joined Jacqueline Kennedy at the ribbon cutting of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.Photo: Bettmann

Breuer wasn’t just an architect and furniture designer who happened to live during one of the world’s most influential movements; he is one of the most recognizable names to emerge from the movement, and his legacy is proof. Marcel Breuer’s chairs—including the highly coveted Cesca—may have made him famous, but his architectural triumphs will forever be remembered. He designed everything from beach houses in Cape Cod to the Whitney Museum of American Art, a brutalist concrete masterpiece in the heart of New York. His work is history that—in Lawrence, New York—has been erased. Did we mention that the Geller House I was Breuer’s first residential project?

At just 19 years old, he enrolled in Germany’s famed BAUHAUS, where he honed his skills and developed his highly specific style. The tubular steel pieces, including the Wassily chair, brought him the international acclaim he deserved. That said, he wasn’t as esteemed for his houses as he was for his furniture. During his time as a professor at Harvard University—throughout the 1950s through the end of the 1970s—he actually established an architecture practice with his design mentor, Walter Gropius.

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