Photograph from the National Register of Historic Places nomination.
by Michael R. Allen
On July 8, the National Park Service placed the Carney-Keightley House near Fenton in the National Register of Historic Places. Located on Hawkins Road on the boundary line between St. Louis and Jefferson counties, the Carney-Keightley House is a unique local connection to the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright. Completed in 1948, the house is the only known architectural work solely attributed to Richard Edgar Carney. Carney was a fellow at Taliesin, Wright’s school for architects, and served as Wright’s personal aide from 1952 through 1959.
Jill O’Neal, owner of the Carney-Keightley House, prepared the National Register nomination. O’Neal describes the house as “unpretentious, modest, natural, economical, unassuming, authentic and totally American.” This is not surprising given that Carney designed the house in accordance with Wright’s Usonian principles for house design. Those principles included compact layout with open living area, placement of the house on a concrete slab, respect for and harmony with the contours of the house site, use of sloped or flat roofs, use of affordable, often mass-produced materials and attention to energy efficiency through careful fenestration. The Carney-Keightley House is only 1,000 square feet and sits on a slab on a wooded site. The house is clad in local stone and redwood and has large windows, screened by the overhangs of the sloped roofs, that emphasize natural light. Carney’s work is a delightfully compact Usonian home that is a totally original work of architecture.
Read the nomination here.