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A Modern Jewel on the James
By Christine Stoddard
Don't ever remind (the now dead) architect Richard Neutra that he briefly studied under Frank Lloyd Wright. Otherwise you might get a ghost knocking on your door. The German-born modernist preferred to claim his vision as a singular one, one that even transcended Wright's.
Though not as famous as Falling Water, Neutra's Rice House in Richmond, VA is well-known in the contemporary architecture world for its clean design, floor-to-ceiling windows, and startling view of the James River from historic Lock Island. Built in 1964, the house stands out in the architecturally rich but traditional city. Most of the Rice House's West End neighbors are American Girl Felicity style homes.
So what makes this 6,000-square foot beacon of modernism relevant to Quail Bell(e)s? Since 2009, the Rice House has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That's a strange accomplishment considering how much of an "Ugly Duckling" it seems compared to Richmond's Agecroft Hall or the Confederate Memorial Chapel, among numerous other more 'Virginian' places. Lock Island also overlooks the first dam and canal of the James, and even served as a foundry during the Revolutionary War. (For the curious, RVANews.com posted a more detailed account of Lock's history in October 2011.)
Currently the Rice House belongs to the Science Museum of Virginia, who rents out the property for special events. But if your pockets aren't deep enough to help you afford such a visit, you now have inspiration for your latest zombie short story. The Rice House will give it just the mid-century flair it needs.