Wharton Esherick Studio

Tredyffrin Twp, Chester County, PA

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Wharton Esherick Studio and Museum

The Studio and Musem is located at 1520 Horse Shoe Trail, Malvern, PA 19355.


In 1926 Wharton Esherick [†] dug the foundation for his studio and completed this complex of buildings in 1966. It was built entirely by Mr. Esherick in different stages. One section is a 1-1/2 story stone gable structure, containing an elongated shed type dormer, large multi-paned picture window and door on the open gable end. It has a steep shingle covered roof. Built Into the opposite gable end section is a three story semi-hipped irregular frame section, constructed of extremely long vertical board, resembling a double keeled boay. This section has random window placement with a door on the second level rear, leading to a balcony porch overlooking a steep slope in the rear of the house. Another door on the second level front is serviced by a winding elevated flagstone walkway and is protected by an irregular shaped shingle roof. To the immediate right of the front door is a three story cement tower with a single deeply recessed window.

Taking a careful look at the interior, one sees the beauty in the use of massive pieces of driftwood-type material to form steps, stair risers and banisters. All of the stairs, furniture, doors, decorated pillars, walls, kitchenware and sculpture are creations of Wharton Esherick. The most Impressive part of the interior is a large twisting wooden pillar with heavy wooden steps that are unsupported except where they are pegged to the central post. A wooden floor of apple wood and walnut resembles a jig saw puzzle more than a board floor. Wooden furniture is built into the rooms as part of them, rather than as adornments. Band hewn rafters and beams predominate the ceilings, while Esherick's sculptures are found virtually in every room of the house.

A studio to the right of the Esherick Museum was designed and built by Louis Kahn and Wharton Esherick. The structure was used chiefly as a shop and is in the shape of a saw tooth with three large bays overlooking the hillside. It is constructed of concrete and measures approximately kO feet by 15 feet. At present is is being-used as a residence. It was built sometime in the 1950's.


Wharton Esherick lived in the Paoli area since 1913. Efe started his house in 1926 and enlarged and modified it until its completion in 1966. Originally it was intended to function as a studio but in 19hO Esherick used it as a studio-home.

Esherick, a native of Philadelphia has had his works presented at World's Fairs in New York, Brussels, and Milan and exhibited them in the major galleries and museums throughout the United States. At present his works are held in more than a dozen permanent collections.

During his lifetime Wharton Esherick did much in the field of woodwork. One of his greater achievements is the work done in the Curtis Bok House. It was considered as one of the most significant works of interior design in the 1930's. Esherick's most famous creation remains to be his studio home. He liked best to use the wood native to his home and remarked "if I can't make something beautiful out of what I find in my back yard, I had better not make anything."

In exterior appearance, one can readily see that the Esherick studio is an integrated conglomoration of diverse styles and motifs. Ordinarily, it is felt that this would not merit National Register inclusion by the fact that any person of means could have such a home designed and built for more than a modest sum. Taking in to account that this complex was designed and built by Esherick himself, it is reminiscent of the early hand crafted structures of colonial times. Interiorly, the structure indicates the unity of an artist and his work and the functional utilitarian nature of art. Significance then comes from architecture, sculpture and the man himself, that lived here, none of which can be separated from the other.

Mansfield M. and Ruth Esherick Bascom, Wharton Esherick Studio/Wharton Esherick Museum, nomination document, 1973, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.CC.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Horse Shoe Trail

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