26 Sep

Llanrwst the Miller House in Muskoka, Designed by Eero Saarinen

The Miller family have been summering in Muskoka since 1886. In 1950 J. Irwin Miller who was operating Cummins Diesel convinced well known architect Eero Saarinen to travel to Windermere on Lake Rosseau in Muskoka to design him a cottage. Saarinen was never interested in residential design however took on the commission for his fellow Yale graduate and friend. The cottage was built near the family summer home and was a modern style design that represented high art in its day.

Although the Llanrwst or Miller cottage may not appeal to most people it is certainly reflective of the great bond people felt to Muskoka by placing their treasured dreams on our shorelines. Saarinen only designed 7 residential buildings in his life time so to have one in our Muskoka is a treat.

Eero Saarinen is now considered one of the masters of American 20th century architecture with many great achievements credited to him including the Gateway Arch in St. Louis Missouri. Miller became Saarinen’s most consistent client with continuous projects from 1950 to Saarinsen’s death in 1961 at the young age of 51 due to a brain tumor operation.

Additional References:
Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future
Muskoka Famed Modernism


Please click on the image for a larger size

In: in and around muskoka ontario

11 Responses
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  1. Jenn Jilks says:

    Just… WOW! Very intriguing!

  2. Heather says:

    Very industrial looking…I would think they must have an amazing view!!!


  3. Sue says:

    This cottage burned to the ground a few years back, and was rebuilt in its own image to preserve its history.

  4. E G Miller says:

    The Millers have been in Muskoka since 1876, not 1886. Also, the building could not be less industrial because the materials are mostly native: the original bass wood was taken from two trees logged from the property; there wasn’t any steel at all in the old building (the current building dept required it upon rebuilding); and all rooms open out into the air- another feature of the old, but true muskoka cottages.

  5. E G Miller says:

    Also, Eero always gave Milton Goeltz most of the credit because he was the Master Builder/ Carpenter and without him, Eero said the building would not have been able to be built. So, you should credit Mr. Goeltz as well. He was a local builder from the town and brilliant at solving problems that the architect and client presented.

  6. Carol says:

    Re E. G.’s comment above…It is often the under-appreciated tradespeople, who have the necessary skills to carry through the vision. Milton Goetz is one of many, who don’t always get the glory, but get the satisfaction of the problem solving, application of their skills and knowledge of the craft, and seeing that vision come to fruition!

  7. Zishan says:

    “Although the Llanrwst or Miller cottage may not appeal to most people…”- It is unfortunate that people don’t understand art and design. As an industrial designer who has studied architecture extensively, I find the state of residential architecture today to be appalling in both their build quality and aesthetic quality.

    I have respect for historic architectural styles, but the international style (second to the greatness of medieval Islamic architecture) is by far among the two greatest movements in the history of architecture, since the advent of the roof!

  8. Ed Boutilier says:

    Thank you for your comment Zishan. Sadly many of the great architectural buildings on the Big Three Muskoka lakes are disappearing. They are being bulldozed and replaced with new uninspiring builds. Miller cottages are absolute gems that still remain and I hope for many decades.

  9. Jim Carlisle says:

    I am building a home for my family on Lake Champlain, that is inspired by Llanrwst and Saarinen. I will post some photos when it is complete this summer.

    I love Saarinen’s design, having grown up in Missouri, and admiring the Gateway Arch, then flying out of the TWA and Dulles Terminals, and eating at Ezra Styles and Morse Colleges at Yale.

    I hope to visit Muskoka sometime soon and meet the Llanrwst owners there, and learn how to pronounce the name.

  10. Betsy Givan Martens says:

    Classic midcentury modern / Bauhaus-type features:
    – Respecting nature by hugging the landscape, keeping a low profile
    – Window openings that let the outside in
    – Materials used as someone mentioned above (can’t remember; rushed right now)

    FYI: Saarinen also designed the Law School building on the campus of the University of Chicago right here in Chicago proper, in the lovely neo-Gothic and Queen Anne architecture of Hyde Park. It’s got an amazing reflecting pool in front of it.
    Because it’s on the South Side, though, it is largely overlooked when people wax ecstatic about Chicago’s fabulous architecture. Photographer and architecture historian Lee Bey is remedying that with a new book due to come out soon. Wish I could remember the title!

  11. Marty Chapo says:

    My interest in the Millers’ and their relationship to Saarinen was recently piqued by a trip to explore the architectural wonder of a city that is Columbus, Indiana, where the Millers’ primary residence,, also a Saarinen design, is open to the public for tours. I’m a St. Louisan, so this also adds to my curiosity about Saarinen’s work. To the gentleman wondering about the pronunciation of Lianwrst, according to a book I purchased in the Columbus Visitors Center it is pronounced, “lan roost.”

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