interior dragon rock

A New Book Sheds Light on Russel and Mary Wright’s Unconventional Home

Dragon Rock, The midcentury design power couple’s upstate New York home was a laboratory for experimentation with natural materials.

It’s hard to overstate just how unusual a residence Dragon Rock is. Originally intended as a weekend retreat for the midcentury industrial-design power couple Russel and Mary Wright, the home and studio is a far cry from the Bauhaus-influenced Modernism that prevailed when it was built in 1952. Overlooking a flooded quarry in the small town of Garrison, New York, Dragon Rock was a laboratory for the Wrights’ radical ideas and experimentation with natural materials, crafts, and what we might now call biophilia. Today, visitors can wander the property’s miles of wooded paths and explore the house, which has been preserved by Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center.

In her new volume, author Jennifer Golub convincingly argues that this unique dwelling should be included in the pantheon of iconic midcentury houses. She mined the archives of the Wright family estate, the Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW), Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center, and the Russel Wright Papers at Syracuse University to bring together stunning images of Wright’s industrial designs, photographs of Dragon Rock, and biographical details of the owners’ lives. Reprinted lectures and letters are also included to offer a window into the minds of many other people who were touched by this incredible house. 

Dragon Rock at Manitoga cover
RUSSEL AND MARY WRIGHT: DRAGON ROCK AT MANITOGA By Jennifer Golub Princeton Architectural Press, 208 pages, $60
In addition to its cliff-top perch, natural building materials help embed Dragon Rock at Manitoga in the landscape. The flat roof was intentionally covered in moss and vines, while large boulders and tree trunks were used as structural and decorative elements of the interior. Underfoot, rough-hewn stone is interspersed with wooden planks, while salvaged doorknobs and a wall decorated with butterflies encased in fiberglass give the space the character of a handcrafted art installation.

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