Bruce Goff designed two houses in Mississippi during his career. The Gryder House (1960) in Ocean Springs is a frequent topic here on MissPres. The other Goff design was the Gutman House (1958) in Gulfport. It is likely not as frequent a topic of discussion because the house was destroyed by fire in 1986. But several articles published while the Gutmans lived in the home give us great insight to the process that lead to the design. Creating more heartache over the loss of the house is the fact that the article showcased today states that Goff considered the Gutman House “the creation of a life time” and the “best thing that he has done.”
Gutman Residence Culmination Of Much Thought And Planning; Encompasses Dreams Of The Dwellers And The Creator
by Marie Langlois, Daily Herald Staff Writer
Double Tiffany-like blue steel prongs loft a jewel – faceted house among the tree tops overlooking the blue waters of Gulfport Lake in Bayou View.
This white stucco home, a-glitter with bits of green and blue bottle glass that pick up and reflect sunlight or moonlight in myriads of rainbow colors, is a dream-fantasy that has been successfully interpreted into a reality for its owners, Dr. and Mrs. Emil Gutman by the eminent architect-artist, Bruce Goff, of New York.
Goff, who insists, that a residence be tailored to the tenant, calls his home in Gulfport “the creation of a lifetime.” He considers it the best thing that he has done.
The House, its design, furnishing and accent notes did not come about in a day. It is the culmination of much thought and planning by Dr. and Mrs Gutman. Goff discussed at length with the Gutmans their special needs, likes, dislikes and way of life, discovering their individual personalities. Then the final design came. In the interim, Goff became a close personal friend of the Gutmans. He was drawn to them by similar tastes and the chance to put into being his own dreams as well as theirs, on what he feels a home should be.
This futuristic home encompasses the dreams of like minds, the dwellers and the creator, and is best described in the language o the layman as fabulous.
To both the architect and the occupants, it is the ultimate in unbelievable convenience, privacy and livability which takes into consideration the parents, the children, the companionship of one for the other, and the need for individual privacy.
Blues and greens, blending with each other like the trees and water in nature, are the predominate colors used in the spacious, open-to-air-lake-and-sky home, with accents of pumpkin, silver and purple like rays of a setting sun.
The unusual design of the Gutman’s home has created so much interest with its unusual shape, its elevation like a child’s tree house above the ground, its sparkling lights and controversial conjectures as to what it is supposed to represent, that there is a constant stream of cars and visitors passing by and stopping to look and comment.
Many expressed the thought that the basic design is the Star of David, which both Goff and the Gutmans hasten to assure you is not the case.
It is a pure triangle, Mr. Goff states, even to the lighting fixtures under the blue glass triangle that forms the skylight over the sunken, hexagonal lounge in the center of the home.
In fact the base on which the steel reinforced home rests is an inverted triangle of concrete more than eight feet deep. It gives stability that few homes in this area have. On a fill of clay and with steel structural beams throughout, Mr. Goff stated that neither hurricane nor high water will have much effect on the dwelling.
The supervising architect for the house, Bob Faust of New Orleans, is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. Faust lived on the Coast during the construction, supervising each step with the work-men, carrying out in detail the blue prints of Goff and the personal, decorative touches of Mrs. Gutman.
Both Dr. and Mrs. Gutman spared no efforts on details of the home, spending much time and energy in finding just the right tile for the baths, (an imported ceramic pattern on mesh from the Orient) to the exact shade of pumpkin Formica used in the kitchen with its built-in electronic oven.
The house is convenient, having only three structural walls. Like the outside walls and the roof, they are of white stucco sprinkled with crushed glass; no baseboards which eliminated a cleaning problem; and cantilevered furnishing and fixtures for easy cleaning.
The skylight above the sunken lounge makes the structural walls glisten with lights as do the hand-made, specially designed, three-drop lamps. They are made of two triangular cones placed together in the form of an elongated diamond.
Here, in this center living area, is an open fireplace with blue glass hearth, set by hand much as stained glass windows are set, each piece of glass separate and set apart by a grey line. A black steel drum forms the receptical[sic] for fire logs.
The entire home flows together as one continuing picture, made so by wall-to-wall turquoise carpeting, dyed to specifications. In this area is the center living room for hi-fi, television and general entertaining. Adjoining are a family room and private living room for the children, a private living room and den for Dr. and Mrs. Gutman. In the latter room, Dr. Gutman has wall takes for his tropical fish where he can relax and pursue his hobby; and the music room furnishes relaxation for Mrs. Gutman, concert artist and voice teacher.
All of the rooms may be thrown open into one large living-entertaining area, or each may be closed off as desired through the use of Pella doors of hand-rubber Japanese ash. White Formica tops make cabinets and built-in features easy to care for. The dining area and kitchen feature a soft, silver tile, laid in large square sheets which like old silver, take on a polishing.
Although many who view the outside of the house thing it must be small inside, it is not. There are three full-sided bedrooms with spacious closets and turquoise wall-to-wall carpeting; two and a half baths, a large storage and utility room, a large storage and utility room, and sliding built-in shelves with sliding doors for collections and storage of personal. items.
An important feature of the home is that of privacy from the road side and the openness to the view of the lake. Every room commands a seeping view of the water and surrounding land though the sliding floor-to-ceiling plate glass doors, 10 in all, opening directly onto screened porches which serve as private patios fo reach room.
Furniture has been ordered or especially build to suit the rooms in which it is located.
Mr. Goff, who has made several trips here since the construction began, has added his own personal touch in creating to wall murals. He employed the triangle design with splashes of silver, cutouts of the pumpkin-colored Formica and the round smooth medallions cut from the Japanese tile. He also decorated cabinets with bright door pulls and a series of pumpkin colored triangles under each pull.
The home is air conditioned and centrally heated. The bottom point of the diamond-faceted dwelling houses all the mechanism for these units, plus the electrical wiring and plumbing. This arrangement is comparable to cellars in regular type construction and affords a working area for servicemen without their having to enter the home proper.
The front of the home rises up toward the lake waters, resembling the breast of a white sea bird poised for flight, while the design created by the slender blue steel tubing up the diagonal stairway adds to the bird-like effect. the blue and triangular decor has been further emphasized by the use of bright blue crushed glass piled in a triangle in the center of the patio under the house.
Plans call for landscaping with the use of dogwood and redbud trees and a small boat landing on the peninsula which juts out into the lake.
Dr. and Mrs. Gutman and their two children are now occupying their home which has been under construction for more than a year.
Although they have been approached by numerous interested people expressing a desire to see this unusual home, many of them architect and interior decorators, the Gutmans feel that the home is too personal a possession and too new to allow the general public to inspect. The Gutmans were their own contractors.
The Daily Herald, Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi Coast. July 25, 1960, p. 16-
As a side note I’ve always been curious as to why the original construction prints are labeled Long Beach, when the house was built well within Gulfport. The Gutmans lived in Long Beach just prior to the construction of their Goff house, so this is the possible reason for the Long Beach labeling.