Lord Peter Palumbo (1935-)

Lord (Peter) Palumbo was born in London and educated at Scaitcliffe School in Surrey then Eton College where he was a member of The Eton Society – the College’s Prefects – as well as Captain of House. At Eton, Palumbo was Captain of Games, as well as Captain of the school Racquets and Soccer teams. At the University of Oxford, he gained Blues at Racquets and Polo, and represented the University and the Pegasus Football Club at Soccer. For a brief spell he trained as an amateur with the Arsenal Football Club. In 1977, Palumbo would go on to win The Queens Cup in Polo at Windsor Great Park, and The Gold Cup at Cowdray Park.

After gaining a degree in Law, Palumbo began work for the next 30 years in the family business together with his father, who was a successful property developer. Their company developed sites across London, including 100 Pall Mall in St James’s and St Swithin’s House, Walbrook. In July 1962, Palumbo journeyed to Chicago to meet his architectural hero, Mies van der Rohe, and to offer him a commission for a 19-story office building with a new London square at its base (landscaped by Lanning Roper), to be known as Mansion House Square (scale model pictured with Palumbo). The controversial development was finally rejected in the 1980s after a ten week municipal review.

In 1972, Palumbo purchased the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe in Plano, Illinois, USA. This was a stroke of serendipity since it was a photograph of the Farnsworth House that had first captured his imagination as a pupil at school and sparked his lifelong interest in Architecture. The grounds of the Farnsworth House were landscaped by Lanning Roper, and were furnished with the works of noted sculptors such as Sir Anthony Caro, Alexander Calder, Richard Serra, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Goldsworthy and Ellsworth Kelly, to name but a few. The Farnsworth House was opened to the public in 1996 and sold at auction to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2003.

Besides the Farnsworth House, Palumbo also purchased and restored The Maisons Jaoul in Neuilly, Paris, by the Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob in Pennsylvania. He continues to reside part-time at this property, which sits about 15 minutes from Fallingwater, the more famous of Wright’s Pennsylvanian designs.