John and I recently spent the weekend at the beautiful Goff House B&B in Cobden, IL.
It’s situated in a landscape that features hills strewn with huge boulders, sharp canyons, and enormous rock formations carved from limestone. (Click on any photo below for a slideshow of larger images–and try to find John in two of the photos!)
The outdoors comes inside at the Goff House to make for wonderful, earthy architecture. (Again, click any photo for a slideshow of larger images.)
It was great to actually live in the space, if only for two nights. I would love to live there longer in order to watch the seasons change incrementally around the structure and to see the structure be changed by the seasons. The rocky house in the spare winter landscape with the bare trees silhouetted against the sunsets and sunrises was beautiful. With relatively early sunsets and frigid temperatures, John and I also enjoyed plenty of time reading by the fire. Breakfasts were good and hearty. There was also a lovely dog named Postal.
The house was designed by architect Bruce Goff for Hugh Duncan, a sociology and English professor at Southern Illinois University in nearby Carbondale, IL. It was designed in 1965 and built (from what I can tell) over the next few years. According to the Goff House website, it was Duncan’s intention to create a house that would achieve “an inside outside environmental delight to compare with Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘falling over brook’ structure in Pennsylvania”.
Duncan’s concept for the house was that “The House should therefore assume a natural place in the rocky Hillside site; It should provide a comfortable retreat for reading and writing in the midst of his thousand of books; it should make and appropriate setting for the social life the Duncans enjoyed, And it should include some Louis Sullivan artifacts as symbolic reminders of the sociological principles of architecture which Professor Duncan discerned in Sullivan’s works and writings.”
Duncan chose Bruce Goff to design this house. Of his work, Goff said, “We desire to enter into and inhabit any great and original work of art – to possess it and allow it possess us, be it literature, painting, music or architecture. This is why architecture is such a powerful art: we can inhabit it physically as well as spiritually in time and space. Someday perhaps it will, like music, become less earth-bound, more flexible and athletic, more ever-changing and free.” From – Bruce Goff Toward Absolute Architecture , David G. DeLong 1988
Here’s the blueprint as artwork. You can see the layout is in essence three interconnected cylinders. A hallway runs along the center to connect the living areas. On one end is the library, the bedrooms are in the middle, and the living area is at the other end.
You, too, can reserve a night at the Goff House. Visit the website to learn how. It’s an indoor/outdoor architectural adventure, so don’t expect a perfectly heated jacuzzi room, antiseptically clean spaces, or the latest in construction.
While John and I were out and about visiting state parks in the area, we drove by an art-full garden. It turns out that it was the back yard of shop in the town of Mankanda, IL. There was a serious burnt-out hippie vibe in the entire town, but the garden was pretty neat. When we mentioned it later to the owner of the Goff House, he said the artists who created the art garden had visited the Goff House for some of their inspiration. I think it shows.