Saarinen’s Miller House is a classic example of mid-century modernism. Note the copious glass and flattened roof.

Alexander Girard took care of the decor here. He was best known as a textile designer for the likes of George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames.

Famed landscape architect Dan Kiley designed the grounds.

A Dieter Rams 620 Chair

The property’s grandest feature is an allée of honey locust trees that runs along the west side of the house.

A conversation pit!!!

The Saarinen-designed Tulip chairs and table

The Saarinen-designed Tulip chairs and table

The Saarinen-designed Tulip chairs and table

The Saarinen-designed Tulip chairs and table

Co.Design

Gorgeously Preserved Eero Saarinen Home to Open for Tours [Slideshow]

Three years after the death of the last original owner, Saarinen’s beautiful Miller House opens to the public.

For more than 50 years, Eero Saarinen's lovely little Miller House in Columbus, Indiana, sat closed off to all but a select (and lucky) few. Now, with the death of the last original owner, this low-slung gem by a giant of mid-century modernism is opening to the public.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art acquired the house after Xenia Miller — wife of industrial magnate J. Irwin Miller — died in 2008. The couple had commissioned it in 1953, at the height of Saarinen's illustrious career. Starting May 10, the doors will be thrown open to visitors. Tickets go on sale today.

The design wasn't a game-changer like some of Saarinen's other, more famous work (notably the St. Louis Arch and the TWA terminal). In many ways, the Miller House epitomized the Modern style pioneered by Saarinen's elder Mies van der Rohe: It had an open floor plan spread beneath a flat roof and skylights, and copious stone and glass walls arranged around cruciform steel columns.

What's unique is that house has been immaculately preserved, right down to the original landscaping by Dan Kiley and interiors by Alexander Girard. Perusing the pictures here, we're struck by how improbably fresh everything looks (well, almost everything; some of those textiles look like leftover sets from The Brady Bunch). Ultimately, it's a testament to Saarinen's architectural legerdemain that the place still feels totally contemporary. Buy tickets here.

[Images courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art]

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3 Comments

  • Bob Shnorkenheimer

    I think you should add why miller house was even created by j. Irwin Miller. Also, I think you are a little mean when describing the Miller House at the beginning of the article.

  • Scott Cantrell

    While I certainly appreciate your post, I do take issue with your description of the Miller House as "little." We were neighbors of the Millers when my family lived in Columbus in the 80's. For anyone who has actually spent any time on the grounds of the house, or inside, it is anything but "little."

    There is actually a grandness to the grounds, the interior and exterior dimensions when you experience the house in person that is really striking. The photos I've seen do not capture it.

    While relatively large in size (a simple internet search reveals the square footage at over 6,838) what has always stuck me the most about that structure is its lesson in the brilliance of limiting ostentation. That phalanx of large shrubs around the perimeter of the lawn and gardens to limit showy roadside views and the simplicity of the exterior as you approach the house may seem incongruous and nonsensical in comparison to houses of similar size we see being built today, but I would never use the term "little" to describe it.

    I have always guessed that those aesthetic elements are why Mr. Miller - who was clearly a brilliant, generous but humble man - lauded modern architecture so much. Those designing and constructing our current day McMansions could take a lesson out of his and Saarinen's book.

    Scott Cantrell - Chicago, IL

  • peter gillespie

    Here is proof that design adds value. Good editorial choice. Thanks for sharing.