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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.

Visiting the Austin House

Tours of the Austin House are canceled until further notice as the unique architecture of the house does not allow for safe social distancing. Learn more about the Wadsworth response to COVID-19.

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