Polymath Park opens second Frank Lloyd Wright home in Mt. Pleasant Township
On Monday, CEO Tom Papinchak welcomed friends and family to the opening of Mäntylä, which is Finnish for “under the pines.”
After dismantling the original Lindholm House and transporting it 1,000 miles from Cloquet, Minn., Papinchak and a small crew spent more than two years — and 9,000 man hours — on its painstaking reconstruction.
“It’s very emotional for all of us involved. I’m standing here just in awe. Is this a dream or is this actually really happening? I’ve been head down, moving forward, for almost two and one-half years on this project,” he said.
As work progressed, visitors often questioned his vision, Papinchak said.
“It kind of reminds me, actually, of my mother. Whenever I was young, she would always say, ‘Don’t just aspire to make a living. Aspire to make a difference,’ ” he said. “We are looking forward to moving in a positive direction. Actually, the Wright direction.”
Mäntylä joins the Acme site’s other Wright property, Duncan House, and two other homes, Balter and Blum, designed by Wright apprentice Peter Berndtson.
Along with nearby Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, the Laurel Highlands now is home to four Wright-designed houses.
Papinchak and his wife, Heather, worked with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and Peter and Julene McKinney, Lindholm family members who resided for years in Lindholm House.
They donated the home and its Wright-designed furniture to Usonian Preservation Inc., a nonprofit corporation affiliated with Polymath Park.
Peter McKinney, whose grandparents commissioned the home from Wright, recalled holidays and family events in the house.
“It’s hard to describe the incredible feeling it gives us to see the house again,” he said.
One contractor, McKinney said, described the original Wright design as a “crazy house”; some cited fears the house would slide down the slope it sat on, or the roof would cave in.
“Our story ends here. But fortunately, Mäntylä’s continues. The next chapter is for others to experience and enjoy this wonderful house. Without the vision, and incredible efforts of (the Papinchaks) and their crew, and the Building Conservancy, we would not be here today, celebrating the future of Mäntylä,” he said.
Tear down, build up
Several years ago, with the home vacant and no buyers, its condition deteriorating, the McKinneys reached out to the Building Conservancy.
The conservancy drafted a request for proposals to dismantle and rebuild the property according to Secretary of Interior standards on a suitable site.
That’s when the Papinchaks stepped in, said Barbara Gordon, executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.
“Nearly 20 percent of Wright’s buildings have been destroyed due to intentional demolition, natural disasters and neglect,” Gordon said.
The Chicago-based Conservancy’s goal, she said, “is to save Wright” by responding to “threats, challenges and issues facing Wright buildings and their owners.”
Before he became known for designs including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and Fallingwater, Gordon said, Wright created a mid-20th century modern house type called Usonian.
Mäntylä, designed in 1952, is an example, Gordon said.
“Usonian houses are truly organic. Each component of the house is related to the whole,” she said.
The day concluded with tours of the home, its dramatic angles, built-in bookshelves, walls of glass and terrace with forest views.
Polymath Park’s properties offer day tours, events and overnight accommodations. The site’s Tree Tops restaurant is open for dining.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .