S. Glen and Virginia Paulsen House

People: Glen Paulsen

Date: 1954

City: Bloomfield Hills

Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, photo by Rob Yallop.

The Paulsen House is a modest, one-story residence with a low-slope, side-gabled roof with moderate overhangs and exposed rafters. The large lot is generally flat and contains clusters of large mature trees and shrubs. Portions of the backyard are more formally landscaped, while the front of the house is in a more natural state. The building has a rectangular plan with the longest elevation facing the street. The long facade is broken up into a series of bays based on an eight-by-nine-foot module. The bays are framed in dark wood trim and each is divided horizontally into three distinct sections. The lowest portion of each bay contains wood paneling painted white; the center section of the bay contains a wood window that spans the width of the bay; and the upper section contains wood paneling painted bright yellow. This pattern is modified in the southern-most bay, which contains two vertically oriented windows and a vertical wood panel painted yellow. There is a two-car garage at the north end of the house. An open breezeway that originally existed between the house and the garage has been enclosed. The house’s main entrance is recessed in the center of the facade. The end elevations are clad in vertically oriented boards. Some of the bays on the rear elevation are fully glazed with fixed panels or sliding doors while the others contain two windows that take up the upper two-thirds of the bay.

The Paulsen House was designed in the early 1950s by architect Glen Paulsen for himself, his wife Virginia, and their two children. An important feature of the house was a “sound-proof” wall designed by Paulsen so that his children could enjoy listening to music in their bedrooms without disturbing the rest of the family in the adjacent living space.

Paulsen attended the University of Illinois and then earned his architecture degree in 1947 from the University of Pennsylvania. The following year he was awarded a fellowship by the American Scandinavian Foundation and traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, to study at the Royal Academy of Arts where he received a diploma in architecture and city planning. He worked in the office of Eero Saarinen and Associates during the early 1950s and also spent a short time with Knoll Associates in New York City, after which he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in 1958. This same year he began his own practice. In 1965 he accepted the position of president and head of the graduate program in architecture at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He later returned to teach at the University of Michigan in the 1970s. During this same period he merged his own practice with the architectural firm of Tarapata and McMahon to form the firm of TMP, which exists today.

The Paulsens lived in the house for approximately ten years after which they sold it to Bernard and Norma Goldman in 1965. The Goldmans, who became friends with the Paulsens, were professors at Wayne State University and had one child. Bernard M. Goldman was a professor of art history and his wife Norma taught Latin at the university for more than forty-eight years. Both were accomplished writers and academics. The Goldmans did not make any significant changes to the house. Bernard Goldman died in 2006 and Norma Goldman died in 2011.