Restoration of renowned structural engineer Paul Weidlinger’s Wellfleet, Massachusetts, vacation residence has been completed. According to the Cape Cod Modern House Trust (CCMHT), which led the preservation project, the house is unique among its counterparts. “Compared to other Modernist houses on Cape Cod, which express local building vernacular and relate to nature closely, this building is uncompromisingly rationalistic,” says CCMHT founding director Peter McMahon. Weidlinger, who had an expertise in special structures and was closely linked to the pioneers of 20th-century Modernism, designed his own three-bedroom cottage, completed in 1953.
One of those famous peers, Marcel Breuer, probably introduced Weidlinger to Cape Cod. In 1948, Breuer collaborated with the engineer on St. Francis de Sales Church in Muskegon, Michigan, as Breuer was designing homes in Wellfleet for himself and artist Gyorgy Kepes. Weidlinger purchased a nearby 2.9-acre parcel on Higgins Pond four years later. McMahon notes that the Weidlinger House mimics Breuer’s own house, in that it perches above the landscape, divides public from private interiors, and is also clad in midcentury Weldtex, a fir striated plywood. Weidlinger’s crisp rectilinear form includes a shaded veranda that connects to the hillside via a Corbusian ramp. “The house is an interesting illustration of the structural thinking of one of the 20th century’s most important engineers,” says McMahon. Steel X braces support hybrid stud-wall and post-and-beam systems.