Magazine story: Aldo Leopold's early home an example of his land ethic

Aldo Leopold and wife Estella at Tres Piedras, N.M.

USFS Region 5, flickr

Even when it came to his New Mexico home's architecture, Aldo Leopold was always in harmony with nature.

That's the take-away from the architectural magazine American Bungalow's fall edition. The magazine, popular with those who enjoy early 20th Century bungalow architecture, features Leopold's 1912 house at Tres Pierdras, N.M., where Leopold served as forest supervisor during his early years in the Forest Service. 

Leopold designed and built the house to live in with his new bride Estella Bergere during his time as supervisor of the Carson National Forest north of Taos--many years before founding The Wilderness Society in 1935.

At that time there was no standard ranger-station architecture, so Leopold choose to build his $650 home in the Craftsman bungalow style, says the article. The style, known for its simplicity and artistry, was popular at the turn of the century. 

With low-profiles, natural color schemes and large, accessible porches, bungalows of the early 20th Century were all about harmony, not "accumulation and opulence," writes the article's author Robert G. Bailey. 

"With many design themes in the country to choose from, Leopold chose the Craftsman-style bungalow, whose simplicity would be consistent with his evolving philosophy of the land ethic, wilderness preservation , and the ecological benefits of small-housing living,"  writes Bailey, himself a geographer with the U.S. Forest Service.  

Leopold's now famous "land ethic" philosophy valued balancing human activity on the land with natural processes. 

This is a concept that seems to appeal to the readership of American Bungalow, if you read the publisher's letter by John Brinkmann:

"America owes a debt of gratitude to Aldo Leopold for his efforts in protecting America’s wilderness areas and his help in founding the Wilderness Society, which continues his work. We might also consider following his lead in living a sensible life in a small home on its own little piece of nature."

The Aldo Leopold home is now newly renovated and managed by the Forest Service as part of the Aldo and Estella Residency Program run by the Forest Service and the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

Photo above: Aldo Leopold house by Robert G. Bailey

Explore the story:

AmericanBungalow Issue with Aldo Leopold cover story

Learn more about American Bungalow here.

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