YOKOHAMA – A two-story wooden house built by the late U.S. architect J. H. Morgan in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, was heavily damaged by fire Saturday morning.
No one was injured in the fire, which police are investigating as a possible arson.
The historically significant building had been undergoing preservation by the city government and a local group of residents.
Morgan, known for taking part in the design of the now-demolished former Marunouchi Building near Tokyo Station, lived in Japan from 1920 until he died in 1937 at age 63, according to the preservation group’s Web site.
He built the Western-style Fujisawa house with an orange roof in 1931 as his residence. The house stands in a huge garden of some 6,600 sq. meters.
Neighbors noticed the fire and called the fire department, but more than two-thirds of the total floor space of about 280 sq. meters was burned, the police said.
The city government and the Japan National Trust currently own the building and no one lives there. It has occasionally been opened to the public. It had been due to open again May 19 and 20, according to the Web site.
“Its beautiful fireplace and roof all turned into charcoal black. Our preservation efforts had just begun to move forward. . .” said Junko Tokushige, 46, who heads the citizens’ group preserving the house.
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