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Nathaniel Saltonstall (April 24, 1903 - November 13, 1968) was an architect and arts patron. He was a prominent Boston architect and first cousin of former Sen. Leverett Saltonstall. A co-partner in the firm of Saltonstall & Morton, he had a wide span of interests in art and architecture, ranging from designing motels to advising Mrs. John F. Kennedy on White House paintings. A gay man from an old Yankee family, Nathaniel Saltonstall designed the interior of the Napoleon Club (Napoleon's). Saltonstall threw a "boy party" at the Ritz Hotel in 1938 (heavily attended by Harvard students) for Cole Porter to celebrate the opening of Porter's play, Jubilee. Saltonstall also designed a number of architecturally significant houses on Cape Cod.

After attending Milton Academy and the Santa Barbara (Calif.) School, he graduated from Harvard College in 1928 and from the Mass. Institute of Technology School of Architecture in 1931. At Harvard he was a member of the Spee Club. He received a Bachelor's degree from Harvard in 1928, the same year that Walter Gropius toured the United States. The Harvard Society for Contemporary Art (HSCA) was founded in Cambridge the following year" ... for the purpose of holding displays of contemporary painting, sculpture, and decorative art that are frankly debatable, and would otherwise be difficult for people of greater Boston to see" (Harvard Crimson 1931 ). It was the first organization in the United States to display changing exhibits of recent art and held the first Bauhaus art exhibit in the country in 1930, before the landmark show at New York's Museum of Modem Art (MoMA) and MIT in 1931. Saltonstall witnessed both watershed exhibits, acquiring his master's degree in architecture from MIT in 1931. He served as the membership secretary for MoMA the following year.

Saltonstall worked for the firm of Little and Russell while completing his graduate education at MIT. He was an associate partner in Putnam & Cox & Saltonstall from 1931 to 1939, and a partner from 1939 to 1942. During his tenure there, Saltonstall met his future professional partner Oliver Perry Morton, and experimented with Modernism in the design for his own house at 70 Main Street, Medfield, Massachusetts (southwest of Boston).

Saltonstall served in the Army during World War II, first as a Lieutenant in Camouflage Division, then as a Major in the Special Services Art Division. In 1945, Saltonstall established the firm of Saltonstall & Morton with Oliver Perry Morton (died 1964). Oliver Morton's son, Peter Morton joined the firm as a partner briefly from 1953 to 1957, after working with Eero Saarinen and Associates (1949- 1953). He subsequently gained employment with Marcel Breuer and Associates in New York (1957-1959) before establishing himself as a managing designer at TAC from 1959 until his retirement in 1985. Peter Morton's presence at the firm and personal relationship with its founders likely strengthened their affiliations with preeminent Modem architects Eero Saarinen and Marcel Breuer.

Saltonstall & Morton designed the Mayo Colony in Wellfleet (1948-1949), an artists’ retreat cooperative in a wooded setting that encompassed a cluster of modernist cottages and a communal gallery. Saltonstall served as president of The Mayo Hill Colony, Inc. beginning in 1949. Saltonstall designed the cluster of cottages known as The Colony in 1949, which he operated as a retreat for artists, collectors, and patrons. The Colony and the Saltonstall-designed Wellfleet Art Gallery built on State Route 6 around 1952, became an integral part of Wellfleet's art and social scene. The Colony and gallery served as crucial gathering spaces for artistic people in the immediate vicinity, since Wellfleet's population settled more dispersedly across the town than the concentrated creative network traditionally based in Provincetown center. Although Saltonstall conceived of and developed The Colony, he designed its 13 buildings in collaboration with his employees and other artists. The gallery building, near the street side of the complex features a raised relief wall by Xavier Gonzales and the remainder of the complex incorporates landscape designs by Stanley Underhill and furnishings by Charles and Ray Eames and Hans Krull. Edward Whiting, who constructed the Kuhn house, also erected The Colony buildings.

Other commissions included houses at 6, 10, and 16 Millbrook Road, Medfield (ca. 1941); the Solaray House, a prototype solar house at 86 Woodland Street, (South) Natick (1946); exterior alterations to Locke-Ober Restaurant, Boston (1956); interior work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1958); the first Institute of Contemporary Art, 1175 Soldiers Field Road, Boston (1959-1960). Saltonstall was a founder of Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, established in 1936 and known until 1948, when he began serving as a trustee, as the Institute of Modern Art.

Saltonstall was a member of Mrs. John F. Kennedy's Committee for the Permanent White House Collection for American Historical Art, vice president of the Skowhegan (Maine) School of Painting and Sculpture, served on the advisory council of the Friends of Art at Colby College, a member of the Art Collection Committee at M.I.T., and of the Visiting Committee at Wheaton College.

Saltonstall's other memberships included the Boston Society of Architects, Massachusetts State Assn. of Architects, National Council of the Architectural Registration Board, and the Harvard Club of Boston. Saltonstall acted as a trustee of The Boston Museum of Fine Arts and established the Nathaniel Saltonstall Arts Fund in 1959 to support cultural institutions through sales of art in his private collection.

The Samuel and Minette Kuhn House, 420 Griffins Island Road, Wellfleet, is a Bauhaus-inspired, Modem style vacation residence designed by Nathaniel Saltonstall in 1960 for Samuel and Minette Kuhn of New York City. The house is located in a remote section of Wellfleet, Massachusetts and is within the boundaries of the Cape Cod National Seashore. It is expressed as a low, flat-roofed rectangular form defined by square recesses, projections, and interior spaces that are proportionately manipulated within a strict orthogonal grid. The exterior has a solid, grounded appearance achieved through the structure's placement close to grade on a concrete block foundation and the use of dark-colored, diagonally laid pine sheathing boards. The interior incorporates high-quality regional materials and elements of passive solar design. The property encompasses a Saltonstall-designed garage built concurrently with the house, which contributes to its historic and architectural significance. Samuel and Minette Kuhn stayed at architect Nathaniel Saltonstall's Mayo Hill Colony Club (The Colony) located on Chequesett Neck Road near the site of a late-nineteenth-century resort, in the 1950s around the time they decided to build their own vacation home nearby. Samuel and Minette Kuhn initially commissioned Edward Larrabee Barnes to design their summer home in 1956 while their son Thomas was still teaching at Harvard, but then hired Saltonstall in 1957, before Barnes completed draft plans. Local builder Edward Whiting erected the house to Saltonstall's specifications in 1960 for use by the Kuhns during their retirement. Minette Kuhn and Nathaniel Saltonstall shared a passion for contemporary art, which may have enticed the Kuhns to use his architectural design services. The Kuhn family used their Wellfleet vacation house for approximately 40 years, from its construction in 1960 through approximately 2000. Samuel Kuhn sold the property to the United States on July 12, 1973, but retained 25-year use and occupancy rights. Samuel and Minette Kuhn's children and grandchildren, and year-round caretaker continued to occupy the house through extended use permits until2003, when the National Park Service acquired management of the property.

Designed by Saltonstall & Morton in 1961, the house at 1033 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill North, is closely associated with the history of an earlier house on an adjoining parcel, 192 Fairway Road (1952, Walter Bogner, archt.), located immediately north of Boylston Street. Both houses are significant examples of mid-20th century architecture in Brookline. Cambridge architect and modernist Walter Bogner designed the house at 192 Fairway Road for Joseph M. Edinburg and his wife, Dorothy Braude Edinburg. Joseph Edinburg was an executive with Chandler & Farquhar, a hardware and machinists’ supplies dealer then based in Boston. Previously, his father-in-law, Harry B. Braude of Brookline, was president of the company. Dorothy Braude Edinburg was an art collector. The Edinburgs lived in Cambridge before occupying their new house in Brookline by 1954. The Edinburgs resided at 192 Fairway Road at the time they commissioned Saltonstall & Morton to design another house, immediately to the southwest, in 1961. The second house, known as 1033 Boylston Street, has its principal frontage on Boylston Street with a narrow strip of frontage on Fairway Road. The later house was finished by 1963.

Saltonstall and Morton are recognized for their design of the Christian Herter Center art museum in Boston (1960), which served as a model for the design of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (Crisson and Burke 2003). Among the firm's Massachusetts works are the Veterans Housing Development (Boston, 1948), St. Andrews Episcopal Church (Wellesley, 1949), Yankee Traveler Inn (Plymouth, 1950), and the Horizons motel (Truro, 1953).

Saltonstall's distinct characteristics are identifiable in The Colony and two other extant residences he designed on the Outer Cape-the Comfort House (1951), and the Yeston-Nossitor House (1966). Both houses are located on Griffin's Island approximately one-half mile south of the Kuhn property and slightly more than 1 mile northwest of The Colony. A third residence located in Wellfleet, the Stuart Harrod House, has been destroyed by a fire. Each of the houses exhibit Saltonstall's low cubist forms, but The Colony buildings exaggerate the effect through the use of planar vertical walls that intersect with the horizontal overhanging roofs and full-height glazing that fills the surface of each rectangular face. The Comfort house reiterates Saltonstall's affinity for passive solar design through expansive, southeast-facing glazed walls divided by prominent muntin grids; screened-in porches; and open-air walkways sheltered by brise soleil screens. Saltonstall's lifelong passion for Modem art especially influenced the design of the Yeston-Nossitor house, in which he arranged geometric building sections with various height changes, setbacks, and glazed or open spaces. The interior doorways, wall cutouts, and fireplace are created from rectangular openings of varying sizes and orientations that present the space as a highly sculptural volume. The setting of the house features a concrete block retaining wall painted to resemble the De Stijl artwork ofPiet Mondrian.

Saltonstall's Wellfleet portfolio may have additionally included the Surfside Cottages, a platted and partially completed development of late 1950s and early 1960s vacation houses located along Ocean View Drive in east Wellfleet. The cottages exhibit an emphasis on horizontality, overhanging or cantilevered planes, subtle asymmetry, grouped windows, and flat roofs set at slightly varied heights that are similar to Saltonstall' s expression of the Modem style. However, the buildings were constructed with simple, economic materials and may be the work of a local designer/builder familiar with Saltonstall' s architecture.

Saltonstall never married. He died unexpectedly on November 13, 1968, when he was stricken in front of St Theresa's Rectory, West Roxbury, on his way to a funeral. He was 65.


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