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Alden B. Dow
Home & Studio

WEBSITE | EMAIL | DIAL: 989.839.2744

About the Alden B. Dow Home & Studio

In 1933, as the Great Depression began to wane, Alden B. Dow designed a large sprawling structure that would accommodate a tremendous amount of potential growth of both his own family and his newly established architectural firm.  This became a powerful and exciting statement of his architecture and one of the most important structures in 20th Century American design.   

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989, the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio is shared with the public through educational programming, public tours and researchers utilizing the Alden B. Dow Archives, the repository of Mr. Dow’s architectural records.



Tours

Enter an environment you’ve never encountered before!  Walk out onto the water, see a miniature train travel overhead, sit on an original Charles Eames chair, enjoy a view of the pond at eye level, and discover hidden spaces and passage ways.  These are the kind of experiences visitors become a part of when they participate in a tour at the Alden B. Dow Home & Studio. 

Upon opening the front door to this unconventional world, you begin to wonder “how” and “why” and at once you are filled with possibilities.  From a low and sheltered entry, the reception area soars…natural light, spring green and crab-apple pink bathe the space and quizzically makes it way down to his Floating Conference Room…situated eighteen inches below the pond.  All this and you’ve only walked in. 

Learn about Alden Dow, his philosophy, and the 20,000 square foot structure in which he lived and worked, on a Public or Group Tour.  For more information about Tours or to make reservations, please call 989.839.2744 or visit us at abdow.org.



Education Programs

Sign up for an enriching field trip, participate in an enchanting summer camp, or delve into an inspiring adult education program.  The Alden B. Dow Home and Studio offers opportunities for all ages that address concepts in subject areas such as: architecture, design, and the humanities.  Most programs begin with a guided tour of the Home and Studio, followed by an interactive experience designed for the visual, tactile, and verbal learner. 

Education programs for our younger audiences develop critical thinking skills while fostering an appreciation for architecture, design, and the humanities.  At the heart of the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio’s mission statement is the belief that we must “…preserve, share and encourage exploration of the philosophy of Alden B. Dow through public access to educational programs, tours and research opportunities...” 

For high school and college level students, the Home and Studio provides an active learning environment where architecture acts as the lens through which other subject areas are explored such as history, drawing, CAD, interior design, writing, and the humanities.  An exploration through the Home and Studio provides a foundation for keen observation, critical thinking and healthy debate.   On-site activities or classroom assignments often include creative writing, visual art exercises, computer generated drawings, research projects, or even oral presentations.

Summer camp at the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio helps young people expand their view of the world.  The Home and Studio’s goal for kid’s camps is to teach them to think in new ways, engage them in interactive activities, introduce them to forward thinking ideas, and share time with new friends.  This is done through fun and play.

We are also not just for kids.  Throughout the year, programs are presented for adults interested in expanding their cultural knowledge as well.  Our goal is to provide engaging, thought-provoking and educational experiences.  Visitors see the world through the lens of experimental film maker, Alden Dow; enrich the right side of their brain by joining our book reads; meet people with similar interests at a music performance; and celebrate the ideas and work of Alden Dow by participating in an tour.  Creative possibilities are endless at the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, where “…unique abilities, when put together, naturally create something new…this is called creativity.” –Alden B. Dow.



History

Studio (1933)
Construction began in 1934 and continued through 1937, eventually becoming, “…an improbable ziggurat of glass, copper, and specialty shaped cinder blocks,” states Travel + Leisure April 2003.  The structure intrigues the eye from the exterior and begs you to enter. 

The famous across-the-pond view of the Studio graphically portrays Alden Dow’s ability to integrate his architecture with the environment.  His statement, “…gardens never end and buildings never begin” is best exemplified by this view of the Studio.  This masterpiece continues to delight, entertain and surprise each and every visit.

 

Home (1939)
Picasso’s cubism, Benny Goodman’s “Swing, Swing, Swing”, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma”, and the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, Meis Van de Rohe, and Alden B. Dow ushered in new artistic expressions of the mid 20th century modern age. 

By 1939, Alden Dow had designed over twenty unique and different homes in Midland, many for family and friends.  To his wife, Vada, it seemed as if everyone else in town had a house designed by her husband but her. Their family now totaled four and it was time to make the structural drawings a reality…it was time to add their family home.  This residence was completed in 1941 and continues to awe the imagination. 

The Dows’ home feels like a garden in every room…just like a garden path, surprise is around every corner.  Reflecting colors, textures, shapes, and balance of nature, the home opens into a variety of flowing, colorful spaces, grand in scale yet conveying intimacy and comfort.  As you step in from a low and sheltered entry, your first view of the interior takes your breath away – two walls of windows, color, a vaulted ceiling and expansive views of the terraced garden beyond.



Research

In 1986, Vada Bennett Dow, honoring the significance of her husband's work, established the Alden B. Dow Archives to preserve and document Mr. Dow’s architectural career and to make those records available for public research.  In 2000, the collection became nationally recognized by Heritage Preservation and the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works as a recipient for Outstanding Commitment to the Preservation and Care of Collections.  Located in the original Playroom of the Alden B. Dow Residence, the Alden B. Dow Archives is open to anyone who has an interest in Alden Dow, his architecture or his philosophy of design. 

The collection holds approximately 22,000 drawings, 650 job files, 3,000 publications, 300 16mm motion picture films, photographs, personal papers, model trains, mechanical toys, and decorative arts.  Open to the public by appointment, the Archives welcomes students, scholars, architects, and anyone who has an interest in Alden B. Dow.  Researchers may come and study the original, primary resource materials for over 560 residential, religious, educational, civic, and commercial structures, as well as Alden Dow's sketches, personal papers, speeches, writings, and oral histories.

Contact us with your questions or to make an appointment to visit the archives.  We are happy to assist you with your research needs.  For more information, please call 989.839.2744 or visit us at abdow.org.