The Hippo


Oct 22, 2019








The Zimmerman House. Courtesy photo.

Tour the Zimmerman House

Take a tour: Tours are offered Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Focus tours: The next Birds of the Zimmerman House tour is Sunday, Aug. 9, at 2 p.m. Landscaping a Usonian: The Zimmerman House Garden Tour happens Sunday, July 19, at 3:30 p.m.; Sunday, Aug. 23, at 3:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 18, at 3:30 p.m.
Admission: $20 for adults, $19 for seniors, $16 for students, $8 for children ages 7 to 17
Contact:, 669-6144, ext. 108

The Wright way
25 years of Zimmerman House Tours

By Kelly Sennott

Just before she died, Lucille Zimmerman donated her and her husband’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home to the Currier Museum of Art. The pair had been avid art appreciators; almost all their dishes were made by noted sculptors Ed and Mary Scheier, and they kept their home pretty much identical to how Wright designed it in 1950, right down to the pillows. 

The museum got it all — furniture, photographs, correspondences, books — and in pristine condition, too.
“It came directly from the original owners to the Currier,” Currier Museum of Art Curator Andrew Spahr said via phone. “Many other [Frank Lloyd Wright houses] have had numerous owners; the fixtures were removed and sold, but in the case of the Zimmerman House, everything is original.”
It’s been 25 years since the museum began offering public tours of the house in 1990. Praised for its economy and physique — it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 — the house has seen about 100,000 visitors during its time with the Currier and remains the only Wright-designed building in New England open to the public.
Accompanied by volunteer guides, about 4,500 tourists clad in red and blue shoe protectors walk through its halls to see the single-story home every year. Of those visitors, 50 percent come from out of state, 2 percent from out of the country. 
To commemorate the 25th year of Zimmerman House tours, the Currier Museum Library and Archives celebrates with a focus exhibition of objects from the Zimmerman Family Collection, plus material the museum acquired and produced during the house’s restoration before the tours began.
This year, there are also tours nearly every day, twice a day in the summertime, and a few focus tours that narrow in on the museum’s gardens and bird magnetism. They take about an hour and a half on average, and they begin and end with a shuttle to and from the museum.
On a Friday afternoon tour in late June, visitors came from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New Hampshire and Maine. Despite the warm, sunny weather, temperatures were comfortable, thanks to air conditioning installed in the home a few years back. Russ Gebo drove the shuttle bus (filled to capacity), and volunteers Jane Hills and Jeanne Smith-Cripps led the way inside.
The house is praised for being small but spacious; hallways are tight, but they make the room they open up to appear larger (utilizing a “compression and release” design, the tour guides said). The couch can move around to accommodate entertaining, and throughout the home, there exist repeating patterns and themes: four-by-four foot designs and windows so large, indoor and outdoor spaces become indistinguishable from one another.
Isadore and Lucille Zimmerman, a doctor and nurse, respectively, moved to Manchester in 1935 and had first purchased a 13-room Colonial Revival home not far from the Currier Museum of Art. (The tour includes a glimpse at the house via shuttle.) But they found the home didn’t fit their lifestyle — they were lovers of music and photography, but they had no children of their own, and maintaining such a boxy house with no backyard had become cumbersome.
Which is how Wright came into the picture. The Zimmermans wanted something economical, whose beauty could match its utility. What he came up with was this very private space; though the front windows that line the top of the house are numerous, they’re small and allow only light inside. Within the walls, not a sound from the busy street outside can be heard. The only materials used were wood, brick and cement.
The plants that line the backyard are still in pristine shape; visitors snapped photographs (none were allowed inside) and asked tour guides lots of questions. One guest, a teacher who was visiting the city to take classes at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, revelled in the versatility of the design and how it all works together. Before this tour, she’d once visited the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Chicago. In fact, many on the tour had seen a Wright house before and traveled to Manchester specifically to see this.
“The Zimmerman House is really recognized as one of the top places to see in New England,” Spahr said. “It’s a destination for Wright aficionados, and it put Manchester on the map.” 
As seen in the July 16, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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