Exploring Russel Wright's Manitoga.
In 1942, the industrial designer Russel Wright purchased 75 acres next to an abandoned quarry in Garrison, New York. In addition to building his home and studio there, he also thinned trees, created paths, built moss-carpeted outdoor "rooms," moved boulders and diverted a stream to make a waterfall ... all for the purpose of creating what he called a "living theater."
We were recently treated to a tour of Manitoga, including the studio and residence, the latter of which was christened Dragon Rock by Wright's daughter.
The dining area is next to a wall of boulders and the trunk of a cedar tree, which serves as the building’s primary vertical support post. (Notice anything odd about those dining chairs?)
Russel Wright's studio.
The living roof thrives on the studio.
Wright was such a master with the landscape that even when you know he made changes, it still feels random and natural. Navigating these uneven steps on a path near the quarry – which I think he made difficult on purpose, in order to slow you down and make you enjoy the landscape – it feels as if the rocks shifted here on their own.
Tours of the Wright home and studio are available May-October. Four miles of hiking trails through the landscape can be explored year-round. To schedule a tour, go to russelwrightcenter.org.