AKA: Hanna, Professor Paul R. and Jean S., House, Stanford, CA; Hanna-Honeycomb House, Stanford, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Architectural Resources Group (ARG), Architects, Planners and Conservators, Incorporated (firm); Taliesin Fellowship (firm); Naomi O. Miroglio (architect); Frank Lloyd Wright (architect)

Dates: constructed 1936-1937

1 story, total floor area: 3,570 sq. ft.

737 Frenchman's Road
Stanford, CA

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County: Santa Clara

Building History

Educators Paul R. Hanna (1902-1988) and his wife, Jean Shuman Hanna (1902-1987) commissioned legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) to design their hilltop residence in the faculty housing area near the foothills above Stanford University. The Hannas wanted the residence to be adaptable to the changing needs of their three children, John (born 1930), Emily (born 1932), and Robert (born 1934). Noted Frank Lloyd Wright experts Richard Joncas and Paul V. Turner have written: "The Hanna house is generally considered a prototypical Usonian, a term coined by Wright to identify the United States. The Usonian was a moderate cost, mass-produced suburban type that Wright developed in the 1930s, consisting of a kit-of-parts assembled on a concrete mat, its prefab walls raised and positioned on a geometric module of prefabricated 'sandwich' walls: boards and battens screwed back to back into studs, creating an insulation-lined inner pocket between the outer and inner walls, which were erected simultaneously. The thin, yet structurally strong walls were fitted into brass boots embedded into the floor. In the 1950s, when the Hannas reconfigured the interiors after their children had moved away, they said the process was simple matter of screwing and unscrewing the walls." The Hanna House's unusual hexagonal geometry also had significance for Wright: "Educators Paul and Jean Hanna commissioned a house that would grow and change with their family, and Wright obliged, believing that the hexagon's 180-degree reflex angles permitted greater 'to and fro' than the conventional right angle. Wright's solution also satisfied the Hanna's wish that their children grow up in an environment receptive to [John] Dewey-inspired educational principles of learning by doing (a large playroom forms an intimate part of the living-dining areas)." (See Richard Joncas, Paul V. Turner, and David J. Neuman, The Campus Guide Stanford University, Second Edition, [New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006], p. 76-77.) The Hannas donated the residence to Stanford University in 1975; the University Provost resided here between the mid-1970s and 1989. James N. Rosse (1931-2004) served as Provost from 1984-1992 and lived in the Hanna House during the quake. He relocated from the house as it became, in less than a minute, uninhabitable.

Building Notes

The Hanna House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and selected to be a National Historic Landmark.

Alterations

Additions and alterations were made periodically to the house after 1937. A driveway and retaining wall was added in 1952 and a pool and summerhouse was added in 1960. Head of the Taliesin Foundation (a group founded by Wright's assistants following his death in 1959), William Wesley Peters (1912-1991), supervised construction of the 1960 additions. Interior walls were also reconfigured in the 1950s, to suit the Hannas after their children left the house for good. The Loma Prieta Earthquake of 10/17/1989 caused significant damage across the Stanford Campus including the Hanna House, as a fault ran through the property. During the quake, soils under the house compacted excessively, shifting and cracking the foundation, walls and chimney. During the early 1990s, facilities administrators at Stanford seriously considered demolishing the compromised house. Recognizing its great historical significance, however, Stanford hired the Architectural Resources Group to restore the dwelling between 1997-1999; following the restoration, it became a campus meeting facility. Naomi Miroglio of Architectural Resources Group was involved in the rebuilding process.

PCAD id: 1210