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The Austin House

The Austin House, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford

The Austin House

The Austin House, a National Historic Landmark, is the largest object in the Wadsworth Atheneum’s collection and is the former West End home of the legendary and innovative A. Everett “Chick” Austin, Jr., the museum’s director from 1927 to 1944.

Located two miles from the museum in Hartford’s West End, the home was modeled on a grand 16th-century villa near Venice, which Chick and his wife Helen Goodwin Austin had seen on their wedding trip in 1929, the house is 86 feet wide and a mere 18 feet deep. Inside, the first floor is decorated in the 18th-century Rococo style, with silk-covered walls, gilded and painted furniture, and a spectacular Bavarian alcove. A few steps lead from the entry hall down to the living room in one direction, and the dining room in the other. Upstairs, Helen Austin’s dressing room proclaims a radically modern aesthetic. Featuring a black linoleum floor, walls of different colors, chromium light fixtures, and tubular steel furniture, it is one of the first International Style interiors in America.

In the 1930s the Austin House was a gathering place for leaders of the international art world, where Austin and Helen entertained guests including Salvador Dalí, Alexander Calder, Gertrude Stein, George Balanchine, Le Corbusier, Cecil Beaton, Martha Graham, Agnes de Mille, Aaron Copland, and Virgil Thomson.

Visit the Austin House

Make a $25 contribution to the Sarah Goodwin Austin Memorial Fund to receive a docent-guided visit to the Austin House, and complimentary same-day admission to the Wadsworth Atheneum!

To reserve a your visit to the Austin House call (860) 838-4046. Click here to view a list of upcoming dates.

Tours of the Austin House are arranged on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at 3:00 pm, and the 3rd Saturday of the month at 3:00 pm. Advance reservations are required, and groups are limited to 12 visitors. Guests will meet their docent at the Austin House, located at 130 Scarborough Street, Hartford.

Parking is available in the driveway in front of the house. Visits are typically 60 minutes long. Restroom facilities are not available at the Austin House, and guests are encouraged to plan in advance for their comfort.

To protect the carpeting and floor, guests will be provided with flexible shoe covers, or may remove their shoes at the front door. Due to its unusual architecture, the house is not wheelchair accessible and there is no elevator service to the second floor. Verbally-descriptive tours of non-accessible areas of the house are available with a reservation at least three weeks in advance.

 

View images of the Austin House from the book Magic Facade: The Austin House using the gallery below.